Cutting of thin material, c.f. stencils, stents and thin wafers, is an important market for laser machining. Traditionally this task is performed using flash-lamp pumped, free-running Nd:YAG lasers. Using the water-jet guided laser technology, we experienced that the use of Q-switched lasers leads to superior results while cutting a variety of thin materials. In this technique, the laser is conducted to the work piece by total internal reflection in a thin stable water-jet, comparable to the core of an optical fiber. Utilizing this system, we obtain burr-free, slightly tapered cuts at the same speed as the classical laser cutting and without distinguishable heat affected zone. The main difference is, except the water-jet usage, the pulse duration which is approximately 400 ns instead of 20 to 200 μs in the case of free running lasers. Up to 40'000 high quality apertures per hour can be achieved in stencil mask cutting with the new system. We will compare qualitatively the two possibilities: conventional laser cutting with free-running lasers and water-jet guided laser cutting with Q-switched lasers. The results will be discussed in terms of the different physical effects involved in the material removal upon both methods. In particular the importance of molten material expulsion by the water-jet will be pointed out and compared to the action of the assist-gas. The mentioned effects show that the combination of short pulse laser and water-jet will be beneficial for the production of a wide range of precision parts.