Monthly Archives: October 2011

Water Jet Cutting

We realize that we’ve been focusing alot of energy on our new furniture pieces as of late.  The architectural furnishing side of the business is feeling some neglect.  So, this is the first of a series of posts that take a look behind the scenes to see how Ba designs and fabricates… 

One of the projects we are currently working on is a new office space for John Wiley and Sons Publishing in San Francisco.  GCI contractors hired us to fabricate a series of black anodized aluminum panels to adorn the walls of the space.  These panels are defined by cutting away portions of the aluminum to form a positive/ negative vegetative pattern.  The cutouts allow light from nearby windows to fill the negative space of each panel.

To achieve a precise pattern we employed water jet cutting technology. With the use of extremely high pressure, water and garnet (an abrasive) these machines can consistently and accurately cut just about any material in a wide range of thicknesses. 

To get the job started a digital file for each panel is loaded into the computer that runs the water jet.  One at a time the 4′ x 12′ x 3/8″ thick aluminum panels are layed on the bed of the machine.  The cutting nozzle traces one edge of the panel to establish a reference for the cut.  The nozzle begins each cut by penetrating the full thickness of the material with a “pierce”.  As shown in the image below the pierce is characterized by a cloud of water vapor, aluminum dust and abrasive.  The vapor cloud is accompanied by a deafening hissing sound.    

Once the pierce has been made the noise subsides and the nozzle begins its cutting path.  The number of pierces, thickness of material, quality of cut and length of the cut path determine how long it takes to complete a project.  Some take minutes and some take hours.  

When the cutting is complete it’s time to remove the cutouts, lift the “skeleton” off the table and hose it off. 

The panels are currently being anodized and are scheduled to be installed next week.  Look for finished photos on our site in the near future.

Contact us at for information on how we can provide design and fabrication services for you.


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