Leading Edge Fabricating, Inc.

Specializing in Waterjet Cutting, Custom Welding, CNC Machining, Fabrication & Knife Making

Phone: 231-893-2605

Knifemaker Considerations for Waterjet Services

Customer satisfaction is our priority. With a little bit of up front planning,waterjet cutting your details will more than pay and for itself in time savings, raw material utilization, abrasivebelt usage and often overlooked safety factors. The following information is a list of considerations to think about when planning your designs or project and maximizing your ROI.

We require our customers to complete a RFQ/ORDER FORM with basic information before we start the quoting/order process. Please be aware that depending on your scope of work it may require an investment in time for engineering in order to create the data required to answer your questions and accurately quote your project. This will require a deposit to get things going and that deposit may be applied to the project if or when it turns into an order.  Please keep in mind we work with a wide variety of customers; materials and designs,so do not be offended if any of this seems like common sense or unnecessary.


The RFQ/ORDER FORM will be the “Controlled Work Instructions”  that will be used to process your request for quote and/or order. Any changes that are made will require a revised copy in a new email. The email subject line will need to be changed to reflect your revisions. 

Unless you’re a mechanical engineer or an experienced CAD jockey / designer, do not let the design process hold your project up. We offer CAD services and reverse engineering, and have licensed seats of MasterCam, SolidWorks, SpaceClaim, and Flow Expert CAD/CAM software. We can work from customer provided templates, drawings, CAD files, and working models.

1. RFQ/ORDER FORM - Your RFQ/ORDER FORM needs to be attached with your email inquiry. Clearly label your attachments with file names, revisions level, raw material, etc. that match up with your work instructions. Remember these will be the “controlled work instructions” that will be used to process your order. Any change in your order will need to be done with a revised RFQ/ORDER FORM attached to an email with “CHANGE ORDER” in the subject line. We do not accept verbal work instructions or changes but encourage you to call and discuss if there are any questions.

If you do not have your design developed and are only looking for budgetary layout and yield estimates we can possibly ballpark some pricing based on your scope of work. If you’re looking for design review, layouts and detailed information we require a general order to be activated. Setting up this kind of information is part of processing an order and is based on your RFQ/QUOTE FORM. If you have a specific budget you are working with please share it instead of running us through the expense of the quote process only to find out our estimates do not meet your estimated budget. The “economy of scale” needs to be taken in account when planning a project; prototype quantities are more costly based on piece price than full sheet orders.

2. RAW MATERIAL - When you design your parts take into consideration the stock material sizes that are readily available. Most standard raw material sheets run oversize for cleanup to nominal thicknesses. They will need to be finish ground to the desired thickness.

Hot Rolled Thickness Range

3/32” .103”/.113”
1/8” .140”/.156”
5/32” .172”/.188”
1/4” .270”/.305”

2.1 Customer provided raw material is accepted and can be drop shipped to us from any supplier you choose. Please keep in mind that small pieces of bar will cost more per part than cutting full rows or larger full sheet pieces of raw material. The economics of scale should be considered when you plan your project.

2.2 We are an authorized distributor for Niagara Specialty Metals and stock various alloys of CPM material.  We work from standard 24” x 36” sheets and have a 6” x 36” best yield minimum charge amount. We also keep a variety of Ti 6-4 on hand for folder projects and specialty tools.

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2.3 If Leading Edge is providing titanium you have a choice of either Hot Rolled or Cold Rolled. Cold Rolled titanium contains residual stresses from the manufacturing process that can be released when cutting the shapes causing the material to move. This may result in parts that are not flat and may require a straightening operation.  Hot Rolled titanium has less residual stress but it will be oversize the same as CPM materials and will need to be ground to finish thickness.

2.4 Residual stresses are locked-in stresses within the raw material even though the object appears to be free of external forces.  Residual stresses in a metal can be large enough to cause distortion or cracking. Raw stock from coil, sheared, plasma cut or torch cut edges of sheets will have a much greater warpage due to the stresses induced.

3. CAD FILES - Exporting and importing files and drawings between different software packages has the potential to cause problems that need to be mitigated. For flat 2D work provide your CAD designs in older DXF or DWG formats, newer formats are using splines instead of arcs and lines. CNC controlled shape-cutting machines run on arcs and lines, not splines.For standard waterjet orders draw exactly how you want the part cut; holes undersized and if necessary have your profiles with clean up stock added. If you send finish geometry drawing there will be CAD charges added to the order for us to generate the waterjet geometry.

3.1 Name your cad files with “WJ” in the file name to make it easier to identify them from finish design files.

3.2 Geometry must be drawn as arcs and lines, or polylines, NO SPLINES. For standard waterjetting, draw single layer 2D geometry with all endpoints connected and no overlapping lines.

3.3 If your design was created in a 3D CAD software package and your only looking to have 2D parts cut, please create and export a simple 2D DXF waterjet file. When saving, if you have the choice use "R2000-2002 Binary drawing (*.DXF)" as this has the highest compatibility between all software types. Newer DXF format choices seem to convert arcs and lines to splines. Including a pdf is also recommended along with critical features dimensioned. This will be used to verify the file geometry is cut as intended and can also be used to inspect your parts.

3.4 When designing waterjet parts make sure to add clean up stock on profiles and hole diameters. Our Flow XD waterjet is very accurate so normally cleanup stock can be kept to a minimum (.010 - .015” range has been sufficient).

3.6 Include a 1” x 1” square next to the part in your CAD file for scale verification.

3.7 For secondary machining, define smaller features in a scaled up view for easier clarification.

3.8 DO NOT tolerance anything that does not require a tolerance. DO tolerance fits for pivots, counter bores, and any other critical features (see example drawing). Include hardware you intend to use for any secondary machining operations so it can be used to verify fit up.

3.9 A general tolerance note for hole locations and other common features is perfectly acceptable and preferred. Typically, you do NOT need a +/-0.003” tolerance on a screw hole location. Tolerances cost money, therefore, the more tolerances, the more the part costs. The tighter the tolerances, the more the part costs.

3.10 Dimension logically and clearly. Note anything that might need clarification. Keep all dimensions of a feature in one view if possible. A machinist having to hunt all over the drawing for dimensions to a feature has the potential to cause errors and add expense. Try to apply dimensions in a logical flow of the most probable machining sequence for the part. Keep all milling and finish information separate from waterjet blank information. Do not dimension features that are not necessary for the work we are doing.

3.11 When drawing profile geometry, use inside radiuses that match up with your small radius contact wheel selection for easy access to cleanup. If you are providing us with templates, note whether you have added or need us to add cleanup stock to any details.

4.  DRAWINGS AND TEMPLATES – We are only as good as the information you provide us.  We can turn your hand drawings and templates into CAD and pdf drawings for your verification and approval.  These drawings can then be used in conjunction with the templates of the design you provide for us to laser scan.  

5. WATERJET EDGE QUALITY -We use a state of the art taper compensating Flow 5 axis XD waterjet. We normally program projects using 60% feed speed on profiles and 40% on lock bars and internal features that are difficult to access for clean up. This gives a very clean edge that is easy to clean up with very little effort. We can program using rougher edge quality but it is typically more cost effective to use better quality settings that will save you clean up time and abrasives. Better edge quality settings will save you money in the long run.

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5.1 When doing Folder Liners or Frame lockbar areas we program the cut using slower feed rates (40%) than normal outside profile cuts (60%). Also, you have a choice of “Dynamic Cut” (.040” wide cut) OR a “Line on Line” cut. Typical line on line cut produces .025” - .035” wide slice that’s visual from the outside. Both ways provide excellent results so it is a personal preference choice. If not noted in work instructions we default to the Dynamic Cut on lockbars. The clean edge quality on the lockbar face can easily be hand finished saving you time and money.

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6.  MATERIAL – You can supply your choice of material drop shipped to us from your preferred supplier or choose from our Niagara Specialty Metals CPM inventory. If you drop ship material to us make sure to have your supplier clearly mark the material with your name and have them include a packing list for positive identification.

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6.1 If you are sending templates or parts for reverse engineering along with raw material make sure to note it on the packing list or clearly mark the package.


7.  ORDER COMPLETION DATES – We take completion dates seriously and strive to deliver on time.

            7.1 SHIPPING METHOD – We typically ship via USPS using Priority Flat Rate Boxes. Unless otherwise specified we will return ship using USPS.  Please make requests for different shipping methods or express shipping on the RFQ/ORDER FORM. Upon completion of your order we will notify you with a tracking number.

8.  PAYMENT POLICY – Payment is due upon completion. Payment methods are cash, check, VISA, MasterCard and PayPal. Fees for credit card and PayPal will be added.

9. PIECE OF MIND - We stand behind our work, which is based on the RFQ/ORDER FORM, written work instructions, templates, working models, and/or CAD files.

Your satisfaction is important to us and it is a collaborative effort.  If you can provide us with clear concise written instructions, we in turn will provide you with prompt service, the highest quality parts and on time delivery.

Nobody likes surprises.  Problems can and do arise and often can be traced to a breakdown in communication.  That is why we stress clear concise detailed written work instructions.  If a problem arises, we will work to make it right.