Machines that you would once only have found in industrial settings are becoming neater, more compact. Small enough in fact, to fit on a desktop and plug into a standard domestic mains outlet. Just such a machine is the WAZER water-jet cutting machine that can cut through steel, stone, glass, ceramics, carbon fibre and other hard materials. It may be a bit pricey for the average maker’s workspace but for a small company or startup it would be an ideal tool for accurately cutting out prototype profiles.
Along with more compact and lower-cost 3D printers and multi-axis milling machines a water-jet cutter looks like the next must-have machine for the workshop. It cuts using a high pressure water jet loaded with an abrasive powder. In this case the jet is around 1.5 mm diameter, equating to the smallest feature which can be cut. Unlike a laser cutter, heat build up in the material is minimal. This reduces any distortion or structural changes to the material (e.g. hardened steel) and allows a highly accurate cut without ragged edges. You would normally expect to pay around 100,000 euros for a high-quality professional machine with this sort of specification.
WAZER is a startup hoping to raise the necessary capital via Crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Early bird backers have snapped up the first batch of machines for $3,600 and you can add around $1000 to that price when WAZER starts its regular production run with the second batch of machines. The last time I checked, with 37 days to go, they had over 900 backers pledging $1.25 million which is way over their target of $100,000!