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Protomax Waterjet

Protomax waterjet cutter

Locations & Availability

TEC2Available during staffed hours in the Co-Lab Studio at TEC Garage

The Protomax Waterjet is ideal for cutting flat, rigid materials up to half of an inch thick, such as: 

  • Metal 
  • Plastic 
  • Stone & Ceramic 
  • Fiberglass & Carbon Fiber 
  • Non-tempered Glass
What to Bring 

Bring your Material (with extra room for clamps and tests), your Fusion360 file, and a USB drive.

Pro Tips 
  • Fusion 360 will give you the most control over your toolpath.
  • If your material is really thin or flimsy, sandwich it between thin sheets of steel so that it doesn’t bend.
  • Only fill the hopper up halfway. If there’s a clog, then we might need to throw all of the garnet in the hopper away!
  • If dimensional accuracy is really important for your part, you can measure the kerf on your material by cutting a shape you know the exact dimensions of (like a square) with 0 offset, and then measuring how different the cut part is from the dimesions you expected it to be. Divide that by 2 and you have your offset! 
  • The waterjet slowly abrades the nozzle as it cuts, so on long cuts the offset at the start can be different than the offset at the end. 
  • If your part falls into the waterjet, just cut a new part with tabs. Reaching into the waterjet is something you want to avoid if possible. 
  • Be careful when working near the slats, they’re often rusty and sharp. 
  • If you hold your part in with two thin (1.5mm) tabs on opposite sides, it should be pretty easy to twist your part free.
  • Is the waterjet working? 
    • If the waterjet doesn’t have a sign saying it’s Out of Order, then yes it’s working.
  • How long will my job take?
    • The thicker your material, the harder it is, and the length of your toolpath will all contribute to how long your job will take. 
    • When you set up your path on the waterjet, the status screen will display a pretty close estimate for how long it’ll take to cut, but there’s no way to tell until it’s there. The average job probably takes around 15 minutes, but many run in just a few minutes while others take hours.
  • Do I need to add tabs?
    • If your cut is large enough that it won’t fall through the slats, then no. 
    • If your cut is small enough to fall through the slats and you don’t want to keep it, then no. 
    • If your cut is small enough to fall through the slats and you don’t want to keep it, but it’s lined up with one of the slats, then yes. 
    • If your cut is small enough to fall through the slats but you do want to keep it, then yes.
  • What do I do if it doesn’t cut all the way?
    • Make sure the waterjet isn’t out of garnet (the abrasive in the hopper), and add a scoop or two if so. 
    • Then try reversing the waterjet until it’s over an area where it did successfully cut through the material and resume the job. If this is happening in large parts of your toolpath, make sure you set the thickness and type of your material in the Path Setup screen. You can increase the thickness of your material to slow down the waterjet, which will help ensure that it cuts all the way through.
  • What do I do if the water stopped?
    • First of all, check and see if the waterjet clogged and get a staffer to help if so. 
    • If that’s not the case and there are no flashing errors, then the water pressure is too low. Our water pressure comes straight from the city of Durham, so if a lot of people flush toilets at the same time, that’ll trip the water pressure sensor on the waterjet and the water will shut off. This tends to happen around 4pm. 
    • You can try to wait a bit, reverse the waterjet, and try cutting again. Otherwise, you might just have to come back later.
  • How many clamps should I use?
    • If you hook your finger under your material, can you lift it up and down? Does your material move if you try to shake it side to side?  
    • If the answer to either of these questions is yes, then add more clamps. The goal is to immobilize the material, because if it shifts to the side, then your cut will be off. If it’s not held down firmly, then it could hit the nozzle, which will clog the waterjet.


Availability: Staffed Hours, Location: TEC, Material: Metal, Type: Cutter