Kerf Compensation

Laser kerf is the amount of material that is removed or lost in the cutting process, and, if not compensated for in the design plans, will result in loose fitting parts.

Kerf Width

Kerf width can vary depending on a number of factors, including the material, the thickness of the material, the laser module, the beam width and the power, the assist gas, etc.

Follow the steps below to find the exact kerf of a specific material cut with a specific group of technologies, e.g. 3mm stainless steel cut with a 3kW fiber laser, power set to 85%, nitrogen used as the assist gas, etc.

  1. Prepare a sample of the material.
  2. Find the cutting parameters.
  3. Cut a 30mm x 30mm square.
  4. Measure the square with a set of calipers.

The difference between the design and the actual size of the square is the kerf. For example, if the square measures 29.90mm, then the kerf is 0.10mm.

Kerf Compensation

The kerf compensation function offsets the cutting path by exact half the width of the kerf, in order to maintain the integrity of the original part size.

Select the contours, and then select the command Compensate in Home.

Kerf Compensation Settings

In the pop-up dialog, set both the option Outer width and Inner width to exact half the width of the kerf. Click on OK, the software will create new cutting paths, shown in white, which are the same distance from the original all the way around (we set a large value here to help you easily distinguish the new cutting paths from the original).

Kerf Compensation Results

By default, outer contours are offset outwards and inner contours are offset inwards (refer to Contour Type for more information) as the option Inner shrink, outer expand selected in the dialog.

There is a library where you can save kerf compensation settings for different materials with different thicknesses. Click on one of the pulldown-lists of the option Common list and then select the item Edit.

Kerf Compensation Library

There is just a single setting for 3mm stainless steel in the library now. You can add a new setting for another thickness of stainless steel, e.g. 1mm, 5mm, 8mm, by clicking on Add at the bottom. And, you can add compensation settings for another kind of material, e.g. mild steel, aluminum, copper, by clicking on Add Group at the top.

After setting up the library, you can select the corresponding compensation setting by choosing the material and the thickness from the pulldown-lists.

Select Kerf Compensation from the Library

To remove the cutting paths created by the kerf compensation function, click on the button Clear compensation in the dialog or select the command Clear Kerf Compensation in Home>Clear when the contours are selected.

Clear Kerf Compensation

In addition, all the other technologies set on a contour will be applied to the cutting path created by the kerf compensation function, e.g. lead-ins and lead-outs, gaps, microjoints, etc.

Mix Other Technologies with Kerf Compensation

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