When it comes to CNC plasma cutting, there are two types of ventilation that most metal fabrication shops must consider for their system: downdraft or waterjet. Proper ventilation is a metal fabrication shop safety must – without it, personnel can experience significant health damage. With a downdraft system, fumes, dust and particles are sucked into a vent that then removes them from the shop either into outside air or into an air recycling system. The other option is a waterjet system which consists of a shallow water bed into which dust; fumes and particles are collected during the cutting process and then filtered out. There are advantages and drawbacks to each option and your decision will be based on a variety of factors including the types of metal you fabricate, workshop configuration, productivity needs, and more. When making your decision, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each method so that you can make an informed decision and choose the right option for your metal fabrication shop needs. Below are the pros and cons of waterjet cutting.

  • PRO: Cuts Virtually Any Material
    • Because all cutting is taking place under water, you can cut almost any material using a waterjet system. Because the method does not require heat, even the most heat-sensitive materials can be cut using a waterjet system. You can cut a far wider variety of materials than with a downdraft system, as well as a variety of thicknesses.
  • CON: More Expensive
    • Though a waterjet system offers greater material fabrication versatility, it will require a higher up-front investment. Waterjet systems are considerably more expensive than downdraft. Additionally, the cost to operate a waterjet system tends to be more expensive than a downdraft system because of the cost of abrasive materials that are required to increase the effectiveness of the cutter.
  • PRO: Cut Quality
    • One of the most significant advantages of a waterjet system is the cut quality that it produces. Because materials remain cool during the cutting process since they are under water, there is no risk of creating a heat affected zone or warping from heat.
  • CON: Slower Than Downdraft
    • Though the cut quality is often far superior to downdraft, waterjet system do tend to have a slower cutting process. Though this may not be a concern for some metal fabrication shops, if cut speed and productivity are a concern, this may be a deterrent.