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Glossary of Key Terms

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360 Brass - Alloy 360 or Brass 360 is an alloy mixture of copper and zinc. Brass 360 is known both for it's strength and resistance to corrosion. It also contains a small amount of lead, which is what makes this alloy very machinable. In the half-hard condition, Brass 360 (Alloy 360) properties are very close to steel. Brass 360 is one of the highest consumed copper alloys.


Abrasive - Used in abrasive waterjet cutting, but also used for grinding, polishing, super-finishing and more. The most common type of abrasive used in waterjet cutting is garnet. Other options include emery, cubic boron nitride, silicon carbide, and more.

Abrasive Flow Rate - The rate at which abrasive is delivered through the waterjet cutting head and nozzle to the material. This flow rate is varied depending on the material type and the thickness.

Alloy Steels - These steels are composed of certain amounts of alloying elements that are added to change the physical and/or mechanical properties of the metal. Most of these elements added include: nickel, chromium, molybdenum and silicon.

Aluminized - Aluminized steel sheets and coils have been coated with an aluminum-silicon alloy, making it great for use in heat exchangers in residential furnaces and commercial HVAC units.

Aluminum Alloys - Aluminum is lightweight and offers moderate strength, as well as good corrosion resistance, formability, and machinability. This is especially the case when compared to steel. Aluminum typically melts at a lower temperature than steel; it's capacity for conducting heat and electricity is about two-thirds that of copper.

Anodized - As in aluminum, the sheet is coated with aluminum oxide which has a low reflective chance with laser cutting. This layer of coating makes the material harder and less prone to scratch or corrode.

Assembly - The process of putting together two or more pieces of material to construct a product.

Automation - A method under which manufacturing processes can operate given technology is available. This may be mechanical, electrical, or electronic. Whichever one it is, automation is the act of performing a task without human assistance.

Axis - In our case, the number of axis decides how free a cutting head is to move while cutting. This number can range from two to five, all relative to the degrees of freedom.


Barrel Finishing - This process of finishing is done in a barrel structure and involves the tumbling of work pieces with the parts that need finishing. The work piece shapes slowly work off the rough edges and eventually put a finish on the parts.

Bonderized Steel  / Phosphated Steel - Bonderized steel undergoes an electrochemical phosphate conversion coating application in order to protect its surface.

Bridge/bridging - Sometimes a piece of metal is attached to a part when it is being waterjet cut so that when the cut is made, the part doesn't fall into the catch tank.

Burr - An edge on a part or rough edge that is often produced from machining or waterjet cutting, and less likely, laser cutting. (See also: Deburring )


CAD - Full term is Computer-aided Design, is software used to help design and/or engineer a part or project with the use of computers. CAD/CAM - Much like CAD, this is software designed to assist in designing parts and projects except this time in 3-D instead of lines, arcs, etc.

Calibration - The method of examining measuring instruments and devices against a tool used to ensure accuracy and stability within those measuring tools. (See also, Inspection )

Carbon Steels - Also considered ‘unalloyed steels' and also ‘plain carbon steels', these metals include iron, carbon, manganese, phosphorus and sulfur.

Cast Alloys - These alloys are cast out of a softened form.

Catch Tank - The basin below a waterjet that catches the water from the cutting head and softens the blow so that no holes are made through the floor. The catch tank also holds abrasive that is passed through the parts.

Cellular Manufacturing - When equipment and workstations are situated to accommodate small-lot production. This set-up allows for fast communication and feedback between operators and also allow multiple tasks to be performed quickly.

CNC - Or, computer numerical control, is used in programming and carrying out a process using previously designed instructions. The programmed numerical control manages the process of action in a specific case and carries out specific commands.

Composites - These materials are composed from different elements with one typically implanted in another.

Computerized SPC - Stands for Statistical Process Control, which is a method of process monitoring through using control charts.

Copper Alloys - This form of copper includes certain alloying elements. The most common copper alloys can be seen in the following groups of: brasses, phosphor bronzes, aluminum bronzes, silicon bronzes, copper-nickels and nickel-silvers.

Countersinking - The act of producing a beveled edge at the top of a hole so that a screw might be enabled to sit flush with the part.

Cross-Training - Training workers/employees to be handy at numerous different tasks to enhance the flexibility of your workforce.

Cutting Bed Size - Terms of measurement to describe the cutting table or envelope size of the waterjet or laser.

Cutting Speed - This measure of speed typically gauges the velocity of the method of cutting travels. A common formula for cutting speed is SFM, which stands for surface feet per minute.

Cycle Time - The length of time required to complete a manufacturing process, such as laser cutting or waterjet.


Deburring - The process of eliminating burr from parts, by using methods such as tumbling, sanding, grinding, etc. Deburring acts as a type of finishing as it smoothes edges and helps in machining parts.

Draft Angle - The angle produced by taper when waterjet cutting.

Drilling - A process in machining that uses a rotating drill bit to create a round hole in a part. This is usually the first step in machining operations; other additional methods may follow to create a cleaner hole.

Dynamic Pierce - This type of pierce is produced by allowing the waterjet to move along the path of the part before piercing.


Economic Value Added (EVA) - A measure of shareholder wealth.

EDM - Short for "Electrical Discharge Machining", which is a slow machining process that removes material from a part in very small sections.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) - Data exchange via computer-to-computer communication. This form of information transfer is efficient and often sent through a third party.

Electropolishing - Stainless steel electropolishing is a "reverse plating" process that utilizes a combination of rectified electrical current and a blended chemical electrolyte bath to remove imperfections from the surface of a stainless steel part, which creates a cleaner, brighter surface. Electropolishing is also referred toas electrochemical polishing, anodic polishing or electrolytic polishing and it can be used to polish, passivate and deburr stainless steel parts.

Enclosed Laser Device - A laser cutting machine in which the bed has been tightly enclosed to prevent the release of radiation fumes that may be present when cutting.

Endmilling - This machining process uses a cutter that is supported on a machine's spindle instead of an arbor.

Exotic Metals - This category consists of any metal(s) that are not commonly used in fabrication. Examples of this might be Hastelloy, Molybdenum, Tantalum, Waspaloy, Inconel, Cobalt and more.


Feed Rate - The speed at which the cutting head moves.

Finishing - Generally speaking, finishing is used to buff or polish the surface, edge, and/or corner of a part by using one or more of the many different forms.

Flexible Machining Centers - Machining equipment that can be easily reprogrammed to fluctuate with the project at hand.

Forming - One of the most commonly used methods of forming is air bending, which is using 3 points of contact to form the angle. This is done by using a hydraulic CNC press brake. The press brake is generally used for bending sheet material into angles that are desired. The machine uses a punch and die set to press downward with force to form the piece of material, ranging from thin sheet metal to thick plating. Often times the metal is overbent to overcompensate for the anticipated spring-back. Here at FedTech, we have precision CNC controlled presses that allow constant and precise control of your flange lengths and angles.

Another common method of forming is called bottoming. This process does not use the three points of contact; instead the sheet is pressed against the sides of the die leaving just a small amount of air beneath the valley of the die.

One other process of forming is coining. In coining, the material is crushed all the way to fill the depth of the die. This method usually requires five to ten times more tonnage to reach the shape, however at the same time, coining achieves a very high level of precision.

A different type of forming is rolling. In this process, the material passes through a pair of rollers in which the final product produced is concave sheet, plate, or in some cases a cylinder. Rolling can be either hot rolled or cold rolled; hot rolling is when the temperature of the metal is above its recrystallization point whereas in cold rolling, the metal temperature is below its recrystallization temperature. Cold rolling has the benefits of producing smooth, finished surfaces, and also has great accuracy with dimensions.


Galvonized Steel - Galvanized steel is the result of applying a protective zinc coating to steel to prevent it from rusting. The coating is used to prevent corrosive substances from reaching the metal underneath and stop the formation of rust. Galvanization is important because it provides long-lasting protection for steel. You can tell when metal is galvanized because the zinc makes a distinctive pattern on the metal called “spangle." Galvanized steel sheet and coils are often used by customers in HVAC and construction.

Garnet - The most commonly used abrasive for waterjet cutting, garnet has the ability to cut a wide range of materials but is still easy on the mixing chamber of cutting head as to not wear it out as quickly as other abrasives might.

Gear Cutting - Often performed by using numerous different methods including milling, broaching, hobbing, and/or abrasive waterjet cutting.

Grinding - A machining process that is used to shape materials that are too hard to be worked with conventional tools.


Heat-Affected Zone - A section of a part whose microstructure and mechanical properties were altered during processing because of heat. Not seen in waterjet cutting, but can occur in laser cutting. ( See the two methods compared )

High Speed Machining (HSM) - A means of using technology to process materials using higher feed rates and higher RPM to provide a more efficient method of tooling.


Inspection - Process of checking a part to ensure that it meets specific dimensions and quality standards. This procedure is often involved with calipers, radius gauges, micrometers, optical comparators, profilometers, height gauges, vertec measuring systems, tape measurers and other forms of measurement.

Intensifier - The pumps used to create high-pressured waterjet streams. These high pressure intensifier pumps used hydraulics to create and deliver the high pressure water through the cutting head.

ISO Certification - A certification used to implement quality standards.


JIT - Also known as "just-in-time" is a term used to describe means used to shorten turnaround time and cut out things that may slow down production.


Kerf - The width of a cut after being processed.


Laser Cutting - Laser cutting uses a resonator to create a beam of light. That light is transmitted through a series of mirrors to a cutting head. Then it goes through a lens that focuses the laser beam to a diameter of about .015". This is used to cut through various types of material depending on where you focus the beam of light. It also uses N2 and O2 gas to assist in the cutting process.

Laser machining - A process in which a beam of light welds, drills, marks, engraves, or otherwise machines a metal. Another form of laser machining is laser cutting which cuts the material with the beam of light. These are often performed at very high cutting rates and are typically computer numeric controlled (CNC).

Lathe - A piece of machinery, or equipment, that is computer controlled to machine round stock. This process is known in the industry as turning.

Lean Manufacturing - An act of continuous improvement within a business to be environmentally responsible by reducing the seven wastes often occurring in manufacturing. These include over-production, waiting time, transportation, processing, inventory, motion, and scrap. By eliminating waste; the quality, cost, and production time can all be reduced when manufacturing a part(s).


Machinability - The extent to which a metal can be machined successfully.

Machining - The process of cutting, shaping, or otherwise changing physical properties about a material. This includes metal cutting, milling, drilling, tapping and others.

Mesh - A term used to describe how coarse an abrasive is. In example, a 120 mesh is a very fine abrasive, while an 80 mesh is an average mesh for waterjet cutting.

Metalworking - Basically can be defined as changing a part by giving it a new shape, this includes processes such as heat-treating, material handling, and more.

Milling - A form of machining where contact is made between the material and a cutting tool to remove material from specific areas.


Near-Net Shape - A term used when describing a manufactured part where extra material is left, to provide exact machining at a later time.

Nozzle - Can include the mixing chamber, the orifice and the nozzle body or can simply refer to the tip of the cutting head which produces the waterjet stream.


OD (Outer Diameter) - The dimension from a round part that measures straight through the center.


Precision Machining - Machining and measuring to exact specifications. This includes four basic areas to consider; dimensions, limits, tolerances, and allowances.

Punching - Process of putting holes into a piece of sheet metal using a die and punch.

Pulse - As seen in laser cutting, is a rapid shot of a laser beam, as opposed to a continuous beam.


Rapid Prototyping - Takes computer aided design (CAD) files and is able to manipulate them to fit accordingly onto a section of material. This allows for tight nesting of parts as seen with waterjet cutting or laser cutting.

Repeatability - The capability of a machine to be able to meet a certain accuracy time and time again.

Rockwell standard hardness test - A test of how hard a material is, labeled using letters A through G, with G being the hardest.


Slat - A commonly used item in laser cutting, as a long strip of material to hold the material being laser cut. These can be made from numerous different materials, the most common being copper and steel. Typically a laser bed can consist of 60 to 120 slats.

Stainless Steels - High strength, heat resistant, steel alloys that contain a minimum of 10% chromium content by mass. These steel alloys range from soft Austenitic (SST 201-374) to Ferritic (SST 405 to 446), Martensitic (SST 403 to 440C) and heat resisting (SST 501 to 502).

Superalloys - Strong alloys that are incredibly tough to machine, many are nickel-based metals. The list includes alloys such as Hastelloy, Inconel, and Monel.


Taper - A term used to describe a gradual and narrowing change. This is most commonly seen in waterjet cutting when the stream is cutting thick material, there may be some taper due to the lag of the cutting stream through such thick material.

Tapping - This method of tooling creates threads in materials including metal, plastic, wood, and more.

Threading - This process adds a multispindle effect to a material so that it may screw or turn as designed.

Tolerance - A range of dimensions that is given for a certain part labeling how close a part must be made to that specific dimension.

Traverse - Movement of a waterjet cutting machine when it's not cutting material. In example, moving the cutting head to it's position it will start cutting at.

Tumbling - A deburring process that is used to put a finish on parts and pieces by rotating them in a container full of finishing pieces.

Turning - Holding a material between two plates and then rotating the part on a cutting tool to achieve its desired shape. Forms of turning can include taper turning, step turning, chamfering, facing, turning threads, roughing, and finishing.


Value-Added Services - Processes or additional measures taken to add more real value to a part or project. Examples of this include welding, drilling, tapping, deburring, machining, finishing, forming, PEM stud insertion, and more.


Waterjet Brick - A product made for holding materials that are being waterjet cut, the waterjet bricks are made from a tough, thick plastic-like material. These waterjet bricks also prevent small parts from falling through the slats of a waterjet bed. ( Click here to find waterjet bricks for sale )

Waterjet Cutting - A cutting method in which high-pressured water (ranging up to 60,000 psi or even higher) is combined with fine abrasive to process thin and thick materials with high accuracy.

Work Envelope - The area in which material is processed on a piece of machinery. (i.e. waterjet cutting table)

World-Class Manufacturer - A classification denoting a 'best-in-show' status within manufacturers. This title is given to some of the best manufacturers in their industries and used as an honorary entitlement.