Waterjet Part Marking Solutions

Waterjet Part Marking Methods

A large majority of consumer products contain some sort of part marking that can be traced back to the original manufacturer. Whether this is in the form of a barcode on a tissue box, the serial number on a computer monitor, or the expiration date on the yogurt you’re currently eating (did you remember to check that?), these markings serve to communicate valuable information; either internally to those involved in the supply chain or externally to the end users. Ensuring that these marks are accurate and remain legible is an important step in the manufacturing process, and many businesses employ standalone systems that handle this task exclusively. At WARDJet however, we believe in streamlining production and maximizing productivity, which is why we offer multiple marking solutions as accessories that expand your waterjet’s overall capabilities.

How Part Marking Increases Overall Productivity

Streamline Your Manufacturing Process with Part Tracking

Part marking is often the first step in tracking a product as it travels through the supply chain. From raw materials to point of sale, tracking parts will provide the manufacturer with valuable information including how long the product spends in each stage of production, the total manufacturing time, and to which sales location the product ends up - all of which can be used to make decisions that help improve the production process.

Simplify Quality Control with Part Identification

Marking also plays an important role in quality control. If a product deficiency is found, serial codes marked by the original manufacturer will provide information about when and where the product was originally created as well as the batch the product was associated with. With the source of the defect isolated, other products from this batch can then be located, reassessed and recalled if necessary – saving time, effort, and money.

Make Product Assembly or Secondary Processing More Efficient

Part marking can be used to show product dimensions, assembly identification, alignment guides or even weld locations for fabrication and assembly personnel. These simple markings can have a large impact on minimizing manufacturing times. 

Marking Parts with a Waterjet

Three of the most popular forms of part marking are etching, dot peen, and inkjet printing – all possible on a waterjet without the need for secondary processing or transferring the material. Not all marking options are created equal, so, let’s take a closer look at which one is right for your application:

Waterjet Etching

Waterjet etching is the simplest way to mark materials on the cutting table due to the fact that no additional tooling is required. Etching is achieved by running the cutting stream over the surface of the material at a speed faster than the required cutting speed. This removes a thin layer from the top of the material, leaving behind a groove where the stream made contact.

Depending on the material, this method of part marking can be accomplished with either an abrasive or water-only cutting head. A variety of factors play a part in the quality of the etch, including pump pressure, abrasive feed rate, and speed of the cutting head. Tweaking these settings may be necessary to get the desired result, so always test on a scrap piece of material before etching on a workpiece.

It should be noted that the use of this method of part marking is limited to certain metals such as steel and aluminum and should not be performed on brittle materials such as glass or ceramic.

Etching Pros Etching Cons
No additional tooling Limited to certain materials
No additional cost Causes additional backsplash/spray
Long lasting physical mark Can affect structural integrity of workpiece


Dot Peen Marking

 Dot peen marking involves the repeated striking of the material with a punch to produce dots that form letters, numbers, and other shapes. This type of part marking creates permanent indents in the material that can be read even if the material is painted or powder coated after marking. This is useful for creating serial numbers and product codes that last throughout the product’s entire lifecycle.

WARDJet offers a fully-custom dot peen marking system that can be mounted directly on the waterjet’s Z-carriage. Encased in a protective metal enclosure, the dot peen mechanism is completely shielded from the abrasive waterjet environment. Trap doors on the bottom of the device open up to allow the dot peen to lower and quickly mark the material, returning to the enclosure once the mark has been completed. WARDJet’s dot peen system allows the manufacturer to serialize and track every part throughout the entire production process.

Dot Peen Pros Dot Peen Cons
Permanent marking method Limited to mostly metal materials
Does not affect structural integrity of material Marking head will eventually wear and need replaced


Inkjet Marking

Inkjet marking differs from the other forms of product marking because no contact is made between the material and the marking device. As the inkjet printer moves across the material, tiny droplets of ink are systematically propelled from the printhead, landing on and marking the material. These droplets can be arranged to form serial codes, barcodes, or other graphics.

WARDJet offers inkjet marking solutions for customers that desire a contactless form of product marking. Custom-fit to the Z-carriage, the inkjet printhead is mounted next to the cutting head and is driven via the waterjet controller. The inkjet is capable of marking a large range of materials without permanently altering the physical properties of the material itself. Because this method of marking uses ink, marking the material before cutting is recommended as the water left over from the cutting process may affect the adhering properties of the ink.

While an inkjet printer uses heavy duty ink that can mark almost any material, it is not the preferred method of marking for materials that require further finishing processes such as grinding, painting, or powder coating as these processes may cover up or remove the ink.


Inkjet Pros Inkjet Cons
Does not alter the physical properties of the material Mark can be removed or covered up
Viable for a large range of materials Ink must be replenished once depleted
Contactless marking Ink doesn't adhere to all materials



Having the ability to mark materials opens up many opportunities for manufacturers and can help increase overall productivity. It is the foundation for implementing a smart tracking system, simplifies quality control procedures, and can shrink fabrication and assembly times.

 If you are looking to expand your business’s capabilities by adding a part marking system to your waterjet, we would be happy to discuss the best solution for your application. Get in touch with one of our waterjet specialists by filling out our contact form or by calling 1-844-WARDJET.

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