I’ve been using Lightburn a bit over a year now and I’m starting to make some mechanisms that require high tolerances. So I’m going through and trying to calibrate my laser to a higher degree of accuracy. I calculated it’s kerf using one of the well known methods to the 1/1000 of a mm. The thing I can’t definitively seem to figure out is if we should put the entire calculated kerf value in and it gets cut in half in software, or should we divide the kerf in half prior to entering it??
I ask this because I’m assuming that, on a microscopic level, the kerf should be split between the left and right of the travel path. And the name Kerf really means the entire width of the removed material. The input field doesn’t say half of the kerf, just ‘Kerf’, hence my confusion. Any definitive answers from the developers would be super appreciated. Thanks.
Those tolerances are pretty extreme. Even my pro cnc machines have a repeat accuracy of .004".
1/1000 of a mm is orders of magnitude higher than that at .00004" well beyond the repeat accuracy of most laser and cnc machines.
Boy, I really miscommunicated here, apologies. No, my kerf is definitely NOT 1/1000 mm (boy don’t I wish!). If that was the case, I wouldn’t even be bothering. What I meant to say is the tool I’m measuring this all with is accurate to that place. And ‘jkwilborn’, you ask what the well known method is and then post the picture of said well known method. I was measuring the kerf of cut acrylic on a 60watt chinese laser exactly as you have illustrated. My value was similar to what you are showing in your photo.
My main confusion just came down to the input field in Lightburn being labeled ‘KERF’ which seems to indicate that one would input the actual kerf value. Nowhere in the docs does it state any detailed description of calculating it, nor that the value should be input as half the calculated value. Maybe if the input field was called ‘Kerf Offset’ or ‘Kerf Compensation’ it would be a bit more intuitive. That is all. Thanks everyone for the replies.
Nothing I have done to date has really ever required things to be so accurate, but now I’m trying my hand at making small mechanisms with gears I am hoping to cut on the laser. So at the scale I’m working at, being off by 0.5mm would be a problem. So just looking for any gains I can get.
The wording is actually “Kerf offset”. The offset is the clue here. It basically uses the same mechanism as Offset Shapes tool. Which implies that it’s going inward or outward the amount specified, which would need to be half the measured kerf.
Depending on your use case of cutting and fitting parts, you may also explore “Offset Shapes” to make your parts fit better. The setting for “Inward” and Outward" distances and whether the settings apply to inner and/or outside shapes are also available on a part-by-part basis.
totally agree… I have had plenty of times I have to offset by a slight amount for fitting parts. I do mostly cnc cutting and a fair amount of laser cutting and sometimes just making that part as many times as it takes to dial in my offsets… I have most of these offsets memorized for my workflow now and fitment is not as much of an issue after years of practice.
If the kerf is computed correctly, it allows me to make very snug parts without much of a problem. I used to cut small parts out to figure out a snug kerf to make it fit, but found using 1/2 the kerf on both halves does an excellent job in a myriad of applications.
I don’t suppose there is a mechanism in Lightburn to manage rectangular beam shapes?
I can get one axis perfect but the other is sloppy. Right now I’m either adjusting the model after I know layout orientation (tedious) or setting a happy medium kerf offset that leave one axis a bit too tight and the other a bit too loose.
For kerf, no. But there’s a similar concept called “dot width” that is meant to adjust for width of dot when doing engravings. It accounts for the bluntness of the dot rather than assuming that the dot is infinitely small.
Another strategy that I’ve employed is to rotate your design such that you’re cutting at a 45 degree diagonal. This effectively averages the rectangular kerf. It’s most effective when most of your cuts are at right angles.
Most machines have the X axes or head/drag chain riding on the Y carriage meaning the Y axes can’t be as fast as the X axes. When you change the X axes in some other direction where Y needs to move, it usually slows down the whole process…
Your digital calipers may well show increases of 0.001 MM, but I would defy anyone to actually measure precisely any item either internal, or external to that precision. Many factors involved here, temperature, humidity, error of measurement of instrument, operator feel, condition of instrument , period of calibration, to name but a few.
Personally, I would use a good set of feeler guages to measure the kerf width, but even at that you simply wont get any better than 0.01 mm, if even that precise, with standard readily available measuring equipment,