Waterjet Cost: What Factors Influence the Cost of Waterjet Cutting?

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Waterjet Cost: What Factors Influence the Cost of Waterjet Cutting?

Waterjet cutting has gained a lot of popularity among machinists because of its ability to not interfere with your raw material structure while cutting. However, waterjet cost has been a major bone of contention among many clients.

Many fabricators believe that waterjet costs so much; thus, they prefer to stick to their traditional methods. This may be true in some cases; however, a waterjet’s efficiency is worth its price. On the other hand, waterjet prices may not be as high as you think.

Let’s discuss the different factors that go into calculating waterjet costs and how machinists calculate the cost.

What is Waterjet Cutting?

a waterjet cutter
A waterjet at work

A water jet, also known as a waterjet or water jet cutter, is a fabricating tool machinist use for cutting a wide variety of materials or bulk materials. The waterjet performs this task by using a jet of water with extremely high-pressure. It also mixes water and an abrasive substance for cutting. Machinists use it in sheet metal cutting.

An abrasive jet involves mixing water and an abrasive substance to cut hard metals or other hard materials like stones or glass. On the other hand, if you use ordinary water without adding abrasive to cut materials, it is called pure waterjet or water-only cutting. This is usually used when the materials you want to cut are soft. Such materials include rubber and wood.

Machinists utilize waterjet cutting in fabricating machine parts. You can use it if the material to be cut is sensitive to temperature. High heat is what other cutting methods such as laser cutting uses. Fabricators use water jets when materials like aluminum, plastics, rubber, etc., are to be cut.

Waterjets can attain high accuracy when you need a cutting as low as 0.005 inches (0.13 mm). It can also maintain high precision cut down to 0.001 inches (0.025 mm).

Factors Considered in Calculating Waterjet Cost

Waterjet cost is a significant factor that machinists often consider before deciding whether it’s the best for them or not. Most fabricators often struggle to understand the difference in the cost of operating a plasma cutting machine and a water jet. Here, you’ll find answers to that. Knowing the water jet price and it’s cost of operation can clear your doubt about whether you can afford this fabricating process or not.

The following are the cost factors you may want to consider if you wish to use a water jet:

Cost of water

water jet cutting material
High pressure of water is used in waterjet cutting

This is the cheapest of all the factors to consider, and it is a crucial player in the process. Without water, you can’t cut with a waterjet. The quantity of water you’ll use depends on the quantity of materials you want to cut and its thickness as well. Thicker materials will take more time to cut; thus, they’ll require more water.

Using a national average, you can get 1000 gallons of water for $3.51. Therefore, if your cutting requires 5000 gallons, you’ll spend $17.55 on water. So, depending on the kind of material you want to cut and its thickness, you may require a lesser or higher water quantity. Water is, therefore, one essential factor that contributes to waterjet cost.

Cost of power

Waterjet doesn’t work on its own; you need electricity to power it. This is, therefore, a significant factor that contributes to the cost of using a waterjet. However, unlike water, power requires more money. Let’s do a little math. If electricity costs 7.46 cents per KWh, you will spend 7,460 cents, equivalent to $74.60 if your waterjet consumes 1,000 kWh. If you have a pump between 50HP and 125HP, and it runs for about 6 hours every day, you’ll spend between $3,700 and $9,400 each year.

Cost of wears

Like other machines, waterjet is also not exempted from getting damaged. Therefore, the cost of wear parts is one significant factor you must consider. Some of the common wear parts you may need to replace include focusing tubes, orifice, pump seals, and other miscellaneous parts. You can calculate these parts on a cost-per-hour basis. In that case, you may be looking at an hourly price range of $5 and $22. This means you may have to spend between $7,700 and $32,000 per year.


Cost of Abrasive

waterjet abrasive
Waterjet Abrasive

If you have to cut hard materials and you opt for the abrasive jet, then you must consider the cost of abrasive. It is one of the costliest factors when using a waterjet. Using a typical garnet abrasive should cost you between 22 and 30 cents per pound. This also depends on the abrasive you use and the quantity you purchase.

You can choose either of the two types of garnet. The first type is the hard rock, while the second is the alluvial garnet. The hard rock garnet is also called the crushed rock. It helps to cut large garnet rocks to smaller specific mesh sizes. It is shaper; thus, it cut faster.

On the other hand, you can obtain or mine the alluvial garnet from river beds and beaches. They are smaller in size, which is caused by the effects of the natural forces of water. The grains of Alluvial garnet are round; thus, they cut slower. The hard rock abrasive is more expensive than the alluvial abrasive. Hence, if you want to use the hard rock abrasive, you should expect to have a higher water jet cut-rate.

Averagely, you may have to pay 25 cents per pound. The abrasive flow rate is a factor you must also consider when using abrasive. If you are using a metal plate cutting, you should expect to use between 1 to 2.3 pounds-per-minute. Hence, for every hour spent using abrasive, you’d have spent an average of $18 to $36. If you use the abrasive for six hours per day, you’ll spend between $110 to $220 on the abrasive. That’s $550 – $1,100 per week. If you continue to use it for a year, you will spend between $26,000 to $55,000 per year.

However, if all you need to cut are soft materials like aluminum or plastics, you won’t need any abrasive; thus, you may not have to consider the abrasive factor.

How to Calculate Waterjet Costs for a Project

Calculating how much you’ll spend on cutting your materials using waterjet is easy. There are tools online to do the calculation. However, some factors will influence your calculation. They include:

  • The material types
  • Material thickness
  • The final width of material to cut
  • The final length of material to be cut

You can use some online calculating tool which will factor in various factors to calculate your waterjet costs. A standard waterjet cost calculator will consider factors like the type of raw material meant for machining, the cost of labor, the type of pump to be used for the waterjet cutting, and many other factors. After multiplying this by the average standard rate for the company, it comes up with an estimate cumulative waterjet cost.

waterjet cost calculator
An example of an online waterjet cost calculator

However, these online calculators are only for reference. It is more advisable to request an online quote from manufacturing websites. A great example of this is RapidDirect quoting system. This way, you can get a more personalized estimate for your project. You’ll also get suggestions on how we can help you improve your design for manufacturing for FREE.


Waterjet cutting is a cutting procedure that has applications in various industries. If you have a project that requires small parts cutting or high precision cutting and you want to limit the need for a secondary finish, you can opt for a waterjet. However, purchasing this cutter might be expensive. Therefore, you can outsource based on your project needs.

RapidDirect Sheet Metal Fabrication Services

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RapidDirect Sheet Metal Fabrication Services

Using waterjet cutting for any sheet metal fabrication is a project that must be handled by the best. Giving the project out to inexperienced hands will only lead to an increase in operating costs. This can ruin the goals for the project.

The best way to ensure you minimize costs is to outsource the project to a reliable company. At RapidDirect, we understand all types of machining processes, waterjet cutting inclusive. Hence, we can give the right suggestions to help minimize your costs and still make your project an outstanding success.

Apart from all this, we offer technical assistance right from the material selection stage down to the manufacturing process. We also offer ISO 9001:2015 certification, quality inspection, and material inspection. The best news is all these is available at an industry-beating rate.


Q: How much does waterjet cutting cost?

A: Water jet cutting cost per hour is between $15 and $40. The price depends on various factors, including the type of materials, size of the material, material thickness, etc.

Q: How much water does a waterjet use?

A: Waterjets use between one-half and five gallons of water per minute. This is equivalent to 2 to 19 liters per minute. Not all the water is used for cutting; it also helps to cool down the pump.

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