The Ancient Greeks already understood some 2,000 years ago that constant dripping will wear away stone. Now scientists at Chemnitz University of Technology have shown that an abrasive water jet can cut through not just stone but also super-hard technical ceramics and steel several meters thick - with unprecedented precision and speed. The university is at HANNOVER MESSE 2018 to demonstrate the potential this technology offers.
The concept of abrasive water suspension jet technology, in which the abrasive substance is added directly in the high pressure range, is in itself well established. It has been used for high-performance cutting in applications including oil exploration, nuclear power plant decommissioning and explosive ordnance disposal for some 30 years now. However, in mechanical engineering, only the less effective injection method has so far been used. To improve the technology for this sector, the Chemnitz researchers have developed an innovative NC machining center with high positioning accuracy that also significantly improves cutting quality. "Developing both the suspension jet cutting technology and the machinery has boosted efficiency and jet stability, resulting in machining opportunities that have never been possible before, such as cutting through technical ceramics," explains Dr. Martin Dix, head of the Cutting Technologies research group at the Professorship for Machine Tools and Forming Technology. Initiated in 2016, Project EroJET ("Using suspension jet technology for high-precision erosion-machining of difficult materials") has shown that virtually all substances can be cut three times faster than with the conventional injection jet process - and with the highest precision. Thanks to the huge potential that this optimized suspension jet technology offers, project manager Markus Dittrich is now preparing a spin-off company to be launched this year with the support of the SAXEED start-up network.