Wazer Pro is making desktop water jetting more affordable

Before Wazer came along, “water jet cutting” and “affordable” didn’t belong in the same sentence. That changed in 2016, when the company launched the world’s first desktop water jet cutter, pre-selling $1.3 million worth of units.

Fast-forward to today, and Wazer says it has over 3,000 cutters in the field across 60 countries, used by everyone from small workshop owners to major corporations like SpaceX and Tesla. The company today announced it is launching Wazer Pro, representing an upgrade over its predecessor.

The company’s journey began in 2012 as a research project at Penn Engineering, when co-founders Nisan Lerea and Matt Nowicki were determined to create a low-cost, small-format water jet for the university’s machine shop. The goal was to provide students with a tool capable of cutting precise parts in various materials. This idea quickly gained traction, and by 2016, Wazer had launched the world’s first-ever desktop water jet on Kickstarter, raising over $1.3 million.

The biggest complaint about the original Wazer was that maintenance could be a bit of a pain — removing the slurry from the bottom of the cutter, for example, had some room for improvement. Hence the Pro model. According to Lerea, this new model is designed chiefly to address the feedback from the existing customer base. The customers wanted more power, more productivity and the ability to cut thicker materials. So that’s what the company delivered, offering over twice the cutting power of the original Wazer machine. This translates to a 2x to 4x improvement in cutting speed and the ability to handle thicker materials, including aluminum, glass, plastic, tile and up to ⅜-inch thick steel.

Wazer’s water jet cutters are small enough to fit in most workshops.
Image Credits: Wazer

Lerea likens the Wazer Pro to a 21st-century version of the band saw, a staple in workshops for over a century.

“We’re reinventing the band saw. It’s a tool that’s been around for 100 years, unchanged. You are still manually feeding in sheets of material,” says Lerea. “A water jet, because it can cut any material, it really is the right technology for a universal 21st-century band saw.”

As someone who’s used industrial-scale water jets on a regular basis as part of prototyping and light fabrication, I agree: Water jets are better in many use cases, but they have traditionally been reserved for extraordinarily well-equipped workshops. Making high-precision cutting accessible to more users and applications is genuinely exciting.

More productivity, more power

“This machine has the least amount of maintenance required of any water jet, which really increases productivity,” Lerea said. The Wazer Pro also features an advanced abrasive collection system, which collects all the abrasive material during the cutting process. This means users can simply dump the collected material and continue working without major interruptions.

For existing Wazer Desktop users, the company says the transition to the Wazer Pro will be seamless. The new machine uses the same software, making it easy for users to adapt. Additionally, Wazer offers a trade-up program, enabling current customers to receive a significant discount on the Wazer Pro by trading in their old machines.

“We want our existing customers to benefit from the productivity improvements without shelling out an additional $19,000,” Lerea explained, before reiterating that the upgrade program benefits the customers, but the side effect is that it enables Wazer to refurbish and resell the traded-in units.

Priced at $18,999, the Wazer Pro remains significantly more affordable than traditional water jet cutters, costing upward of $100,000. Of course, a $100,000 unit will have features that Wazer does not — a far larger cutting bed being the most obvious one — but it turns out that many people simply don’t need an enormous water cutter.

Wazer’s growth has been impressive, with the company now employing around 40 people split between its R&D facility in New York and its production facility in Shenzhen, China. Since its last funding round in 2019, Wazer has been profitable, funding its operations and development through cash flow. This financial independence has enabled them to innovate and grow without the constant pressure of seeking external investment.

Looking to the future, Lerea sees many opportunities for further innovation in the water jet space, suggesting that Wazer envisions a comprehensive product line of water jets tailored to various applications and user needs.

A unicorn with the TechCrunch logo cut into it, cut out of a piece of mirror. Precision glass cutting is one thing that water cutters are particularly good at.
Image Credits: Haje Kamps / TechCrunch

One surprising market segment that has embraced Wazer’s technology is the world of art and design. Lerea shared the story of Alison Eden, a glass artist in Brooklyn who uses the Wazer to cut intricate glass pieces in her studio.

“Every single piece used to be cut by hand, but with the Wazer, she can produce four times as much,” Lerea said. Eden, incidentally, is the perfect example of the kind of user who wouldn’t need an industrial-size water jet but who can increase their throughput with a desktop-size device.

With the launch of the Wazer Pro, Wazer continues to make life interesting for the water-cutting incumbents.

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