Current specifications require AWJ-cut aluminum parts for fatigue critical aerospace structures to go through subsequent processing due to concerns of degradation in fatigue performance. The requirement of secondary process for AWJ-machined parts greatly negates the cost effectiveness of waterjet technology. Some cost savings are envisioned if it can be shown that AWJ net cut parts have comparable durability properties as those conventionally machined. To revisit and upgrade the specifications for AWJ machining of aircraft aluminum, “Dog-bone” specimens, with and without secondary processes, were prepared for independent fatigue tests at Boeing and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). Test results show that the fatigue life is proportional to quality levels of machined edges or inversely proportional to the surface roughness Ra. Even at highest quality level, the average fatigue life of AWJ-machined parts is about 30% shorter than those of conventionally machined counterparts. Between two secondary processes, dry-grit blasting with aluminum oxide abrasives until the striation is removed visually yields excellent result. It actually prolongs the fatigue life of parts at least three times higher than that achievable with conventional machining. Dry-grit blasting is relatively simple and inexpensive to administrate and, equally important, alleviates the concerns of garnet embedment.

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