Abrasive water jets have recently become a popular tool for mechanical machining. With its great advantages of geometric and material flexibility and its ability to cut hard-to-machine materials the technology is quickly spreading throughout many industries. With this near net-shape production becomes feasible, while significantly reducing the time necessary for secondary operations like programming, clamping, or tool changing. This allows a significant optimization of the overall manufacturing process chain. In this paper different approaches to increase the economic and technical efficiency of cutting with abrasive water jets are analyzed. Experimental analysis of the speed of abrasive particles show that the kinetic power of the particles mainly depends on the hydraulic power of the waterjet. Merely increasing the pressure of the jet did not yield any improvement in its acceleration capability. To obtain the most effective cutting performance a high level of hydraulic power through large nozzles should therefore be utilized. Additionally, recent advancements in cutting path control software have proven to significantly decrease the total ‘time to product’ and to increase the precision of the part. Those improvements in both software control and cutting power enable abrasive water jets to become an integral part of many industrial manufacturing processes. This will widen the scope of possible applications of this innovative and promising technology.

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