Laser systems and plasma systems can cause heat distortion to the material they cut, whereas waterjet systems use pressurized water to cut a wide variety of materials. And unlike plasma cutters, waterjet and laser cutters aren’t restricted to cutting metal. Therefore, laser cutters and waterjet cutters are ideal for manufacturers that need a system that will cut metals, woods, and plastics.
When choosing between a laser and waterjet cutter, you should consider how thick your materials are and the cut quality you need. Waterjet cutters can be used on thin and thick materials, whereas laser cutters are limited to thin materials. However, waterjet cutters are not ideal for cutting precise, intricate lines.
The main drawbacks for waterjet cutters are noise, waste, and operating costs. When running a waterjet cutter, you need to protect your eyes from debris and your ears from loud noises. Additionally, cleanup can be time-consuming. Waterjet cutters use a combination of water and abrasives to slice through messy materials, which creates far more waste than laser cutting. And though the upfront cost of a waterjet cutter is less than a laser cutter, operating costs are higher for waterjet systems.