High pressure water jets cutting

Hi All

Has anyone an idea if there is a small laser or water jet cutter
available on the market.

i have lots of 316 stainless discs about 12 inches dia (300mm) 2-3
+4mm thickand want to cut figurines etc out of them. small 3 inch
maximum? diameter? animals birds fairies etc What can anyone suggest.

I can scribe engrave etc detail on them- polishing them afterwards
is no problem

thanks in advance
Frank Thomson

Hi Frank,

Generally, water jet cutters or laser cutters tend to ne a little on
the expensive side, more than laser welders initially & more up
keep. For the most part both these devices require some kind of dxf
or other electronic file as input to control them.

Unless you plan to make a steady use of it/them, it might be more
economical to locate a local metal working shop that has one or both
of these machines. Most shops like this will take input files & your
raw material & turn it into whatever you want. B aware that if you
use a water jet & any precious metal the metal that’s removed as a
result of the water jet cut is lost to you.

If you find a local shop, it’s best to find out from them what
format they like the input files in. I’ve had work done by both types
of shops & it was satisfactory in every instance. In some cases,
depending on the material, laser cutting isn’t an option.


Has anyone an idea if there is a small laser or water jet cutter
available on the market. 

Yes, small laser cutters are available, but they are pretty
expensive. Easily 10K by the time you add accessories.

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


Joan Schlaifer at Schlaifer Enameling Supplies has been working with
a water jet cutter. Their goal isn’t to be incredibly fast on turn
around but to produce a quality product for artists. I found them to
be responsive and reasonable on cost.

As usual, no relation to Joan or her company…just something I
thought I would pass along. You can find her at this great URL!



Not sure if I actually know how to post to Orchid but hopefully this
will work…

I am in the process of working with a waterjet company right now on
doing a production run for a necklace I designed. Previously I made
it on a laser cutter I had access to at my school so all my work was
already in a digital format. Overall the company has been pleasant to
work with but the process of them figuring out tolerances and
processing the job has taken several months of them test cutting and
sending me samples. To cut costs they are able to stack 3 layers of
the material together (silicone).

Buying a waterjet would be very expensive. $100,000 would be a low
estimate and there are no “small” waterjet machines. There are small
laser cutters but they will not cut through metal. To cut thin steel
you will need a 200 watt laser which puts you in a very different
price bracket ($60,000). The most inexpensive and inobtrusive laser
on the market right now is Versalaser from Universal Laser Systems. I
believe their cheapest model is around $7,000 but you will be
restricted to cutting paper, cardboard, and thin plastic…actually
you can cut fabric too which is pretty fun.

I’m also working with a photochemical etching company on some steel
pieces. I would recommend that over waterjet or laser for thin metal.


Has anyone an idea if there is a small laser or water jet cutter
available on the market.

Yes, small laser cutters are available, but they are pretty
expensive. Easily 10K by the time you add accessories. 

You will not find a metal cutting laser for 10K, you can’t even find
a metal welding laser for that cheap. There are laser cutters used
on plastics, wood rubber etc that are relatively inexpensive, but not
for metal. Cutting metal requires output power in the thousands of
watts and that kind of power does not come cheap much closer to
$100,000 or more.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


The types of lasers needed for cutting through stainless steel are
generally CO2 lasers, which use a combination of CO2, nitrogen, and
helium that continually flow into the vacuumed out chamber, and are
shot at nearly the speed of sound into the resonator chamber by a
special compressor. It’s pretty crazy stuff, and they are usually
something like 10 feet long. It takes at least around 600 watts to
cut through metal, with a more normal number of around 1000 to 1500
watts. There are used machines of that wattage in the $35,000 range,
but special optics, tanks of gasses, and replacement parts are
hugely expensive. Don’t forget that these will also take huge 3 phase
electricity in the order of dozens of amps at 440 volts. These lasers
usually cost $500,000+ new. They would cost thousands of dollars to
move. They usually work with straight G-Code rather than drawing
files as well. I used to work on such a machine. I now have a sealed
tube CO2 laser of about 120 watts, which is approaching the upper
limit of “cheap” lasers ($26K used), and it still won’t go through

You would do very well to go to the Thomas Register and find
qualified laser manufacturers. It is a very steep and expensive
learning curve to get good parts, and as I mentioned, the equipment
is very expensive. They would probably charge a one time artwork fee
of maybe a hundred or two dollars and charge for time on the machine,
maybe $20 per part or less.

Bruce Boone
Boone Titanium Rings

Wire EDM may suit your purpose. If you have a digitised drawing it
will cut almost any pattern and you can stack the sheets together.
You will need to speak to a company that specialises in cutting very
hard metals as they are most likely to have such kit.