Why is Kerf Width Important?

Industrial fabrication requires extremely low tolerances and highly accurate metal cutting. Kerf width is a critical aspect to precise cutting and will factor in no matter the type of metal in production.

Kerf width refers to the amount of material which is removed during the cutting process. Just as a wood saw would remove a small section of the plank that it is being used on, reducing it to sawdust, so any metal cutting procedures will have a kerf.

What determines kerf width?

The incredible machinery that we make use of takes the guesswork out of determining the kerf when setting up a product for cutting, and many programs compensate automatically for kerf during setup.

If a programmed shape is 10 x 10 cm and the cutting tool removes 5mm all round, then it’s easy to see how your final part is going to be affected. Therefore, one needs to compensate for this, based on the tool and the product.

“Rather than re-program the part at a different dimension, the CNC will take care of this automatically just by telling it which direction to offset, and by how much. Most modern CNCs take the actual kerf amount and automatically offset the tool path by 1/2 of that amount so that the finished part comes out very close to the programmed dimensions. That is why the kerf value is often referred to as “kerf offset”. (Source)

Each cutting process removes a different amount of material. For example, plasma cutting will typically remove 0.381 cm while a waterjet cutter will take only 0.0889 cm.

Besides the cutting tool, there are further factors which will affect the kerf width. For example, the product thickness is a determining factor, as a thicker piece of metal will logically require more power and slower cutting speeds – both of which will increase the kerf width.

If you have a project which requires precision metal cutting by professionals, we’d like to invite you to call on the Steelmor team.