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Waterjet cutter, control station, and high pressure pump.

The waterjet cutter is an advanced and highly capable 2D cutting tool. We currently have the Maxiem 1515 waterjet machining center in room 2211 of the MRDC.

The waterjet's power breaker is protected by a combination padlock.


  • The waterjet can cut 2D profiles in almost any flat material.
  • This waterjet has an A-Jet 5-Axis Cutting Head, meaning that it can also cut at an angle to make chamfered edges or countersunk holes. Ask a Prototyping Instructor to learn how to use this feature.
  • The functional cut envelope of the waterjet is about 59" x 50" (1,499 mm x 1,270 mm).
  • The usable table size of the waterjet is 59" x 64" (1,498 mm x 1,625 mm). This number accounts for the L-bracket. Material to be cut in the waterjet must be smaller than this.
  • The waterjet has a kerf of about .0210". Features - specifically holes and small radii corners - that are smaller than this may not turn out as expected.

Safety Reminders

  • Never put your hands inside the cut envelope when the machine is running or the jet is turned on.
  • Wear safety goggles and use the spray guard.
  • Wear hearing protection if you're cutting with the water level low.
  • Be aware of the pause button and emergency stop and know how to use them.
  • The waterjet must always be supervised when it is running a cut.

How to Use

For a basic introduction to the waterjet and how to use it, check out this 30 minute tutorial video.

Usage reference


Make sure you enter your information in the ledger by the waterjet. Include name, email, date, ending pump hours, reason for cut, and Professor/Project Name/Notes (If applicable).

General Tips

  • The waterjet cutter has a step-by-step reference manual at its control station. Use it!
  • If you aren't sure about a material setting or scaling, test the setting on a scrap piece before wasting expensive stock.
  • Refill your garnet often!
  • Clamp everything, and use the weights to hold lighter pieces down.
  • Do a dry run to ensure the jet head won't crash and that you've scaled correctly.
  • Rest your hand near the emergency stop/ pause button whenever the machine is in operation.
  • Always supervise the machine when it's cutting. Even for long jobs stay in the room and check the cut every so often to ensure machine safety and job quality.

Common Terminology

  • Kerf: Refers to the width of the cut. For this model it is .021"
  • Quality: Refers to the smoothness of the cut. Quality of 1 is low, quality of 5 is high. Higher qualities take longer to complete and use more garnet.
  • Garnet: Refers to the abrasive sand. It is incredibly expensive, sensitive to contamination, and must be cleaned out of waterjet tank every month.
  • Nozzle: Refers to the cutting tip of the machine. It is sensitive and can break easily if it impacts a part or other object.
  • Nozzle Guard: Refers to the yellow cup that covers the nozzle. It helps with sound suppression, protects the nozzle, and should be flipped down when the waterjet is running.

OMAX Layout

  • The OMAX Layout software that drives the waterjet uses DXF files to generate tool paths. The simplest way to create a DXF file is in SolidWorks by generating a 2D drawing view in 1:1 scale and saving it as a DXF. You can also use AutoCAD by drawing in 1:1 scale and saving in DXF.
  • Ensure that you select the right scale (metric or standard) when OMAX Layout imports your DXF. It will always ask if you want it in metric, click no for standard (inches).
  • Before editing or scaling anything, use the Clean Drawing function to remove any drawing artifacts that will corrupt your cut path. This is important especially if you've designed in AutoCAD. Do this every time.
  • For 90% of jobs, the default cut quality of 3 is going to be good enough, anything higher is going to take longer and use more garnet. Consider a lower setting if edge quality is not a concern (will be a rougher finish).


The waterjet can cut essentially anything flat you put in it, but different materials need to be treated differently. OMAX Make has a lot of presets for materials, pick the one that most closely matches your material's hardness and enter the correct thickness of the material. Do a test cut if you aren't sure about your setting cutting all the way through.

Ductile Metals

  • Carbon Steel
  • Stainless Steel
  • Aluminum
  • Titanium
  • Brass

Set up as default high pressure setting. For thin sheets be aware of any bowing or bulging that may cause the jet tip to crash.


  • ABS
  • Nylon
  • Lexan (use caution, certain qualities and thicknesses split and crack)
  • Kydex
  • Acrylic (use caution, certain qualities and thicknesses split and crack)

Set up using a plastic material setting, use the low pressure setting for the jet. Note that some plastics may float, if cutting multiple parts make sure they don't float under the head during the run.


  • Plywood
  • Particle Board
  • Chipboard
  • Fine grained wood
  • G10 (Micarta)

Set up using a plastic material setting with similar properties to your composite. Use low pressure setting. Plywood is known to delaminate sometimes depending on the quality of the wood, do a test cut using your settings first. Always clamp wood.


  • Ensure you set your zero points correctly. Be aware of what the different zero points reference.
  • Do a dry run to check for any issues. Have a hand near the pause button and watch for possible crashes.


Waterjet won't cut all the way through material.

  • Check material and thickness settings
  • Ensure z-axis is zeroed properly

Cut paths are messed up

  • Ensure material is clamped firmly on bed, since lighter material may wobble
  • Check kerf line in OMAX Layout to ensure kerf and lead-in paths are on the correct side of features

Garnet hose pops out of the head

  • Caused by back pressure in the nozzle, usually occurs when z-axis zeroed improperly
  • May also occur when sheet is not entirely level and the jet nozzle gets too close, can be resolved with strategically placed weights
  • Clean out the hose, dry it, and reattach it firmly to the jet assembly and the garnet valve assembly to ensure no wet garnet is in the hose

Jet isn't firing

  • Pump might need to be reset to clear Pump Fault (check orange display on pump unit)
  • Ensure pump is turned on

Jet will not move under manual control

  • Check OMAX Make display for red flashing Fault indication
  • If fault present, press black and green button simultaneously (on side unit by control computer)
  • If fault does not clear, release red E-stop button