Watching Our Water Ways

Environmental reporter Christopher Dunagan discusses the challenges of protecting Puget Sound and all things water-related.
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Amusing Monday: Flow Man and serious slicing

March 8th, 2010 by cdunagan

It’s time to revisit our old friend Flow Man, who always finds a way to “cut through” the most complex problems.

In his latest video, Flow Man comes to the rescue of a snowboarder. This particular athlete is about as far from an Olympic medalist as you can get. Flow Man’s nonsensical, but amusing, answer is to put a ragged edge on the snowboard.

When I first started posting the Adventures of Flow Man, I didn’t know that the corporate headquarters for the company responsible — Flow International Corporation — was located in Western Washington. The company was started by former Boeing engineers who saw the advantages of cutting with high-pressure water jets.

With its corporate headquarters in Kent, Flow employs more than 700 people in offices in Indiana, Michigan, Canada, Brazil, Germany, UK, Sweden, Spain, Italy, France, Taiwan, Japan, and China.

As for the benefits of water-jet technology, Wikipedia is running a well-written, basic article about the history, technology and benefits of high-pressure water. What is impressive is that jets of water can make cuts as fine as a human hair. One of the strong selling points is the low temperature, since most cutting techniques generate heat that can damage the cutting material. See this video overview of the technology.

What can’t be cut? According to the Wikipedia article, water jets don’t work for tempered glass, diamonds and some ceramics.

Other recent Flow Man videos ask these questions:

Can water cut a rug?

Can water cut a cheeseburger?

Can water cut a bowling ball?

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Food for thought

"In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught."Baba Dioum, Senegalese conservationist