Life Cycle Environmental and Economic Comparison of Water Droplet Machining and Traditional Abrasive Waterjet Cutting

Academic Article


  • Abrasive waterjet (AWJ) cutting is a manufacturing technique, which uses a high-speed waterjet as the transport medium for abrasive particles to erode and cut through metal workpieces. The use of abrasives has significant environmental impacts and leads to the high operating costs of AWJ cutting. Therefore, it is important to investigate whether other metal cutting approaches can perform the same tasks with reduced environmental and economic impacts. One such manufacturing innovation is water droplet machining (WDM). In this process, the waterjet, which is immersed in a sub-atmospheric pressure environment, is discretized into a train of high velocity water droplets, which are able to erode and cut through the metal workpiece without abrasives. However, the cutting velocity of WDM is two orders of magnitude slower than AWJ. In this paper, a comparative life cycle and life cycle cost assessments were performed to determine which waterjet cutting technology is more beneficial to the environment and cost-efficient, considering their impacts from cradle to grave. The results show lower environmental and economic impacts for AWJ compared to WDM due to the AWJ’s ability to cut more metal over the service life than the WDM. Further sensitivity analyses give insight into how the change in abrasive rate is the most sensitive input for the AWJ, whereas the machine lifetime and electricity usage are the most sensitive inputs for the WDM. These results provide a valuable comparison between these alternative waterjet cutting technologies.
  • Authors

  • Guglielmi, Giovanni
  • Mitchell, Benjamin
  • Song, Cuihong
  • Kinsey, Brad
  • Mo, Weiwei
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • November 2021
  • Published In

  • Sustainability  Journal
  • Keywords

  • abrasive waterjet cutting
  • life cycle assessment
  • life cycle cost assessment
  • metal cutting
  • sensitivity analysis
  • water droplet machining
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 12275
  • End Page

  • 12275
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 21