AJS Profiles Cuts 450mm Thick Steel With Kerf 'Monster Machine'

Continually maintaining a delivery lead time in the region of 2-3 days can be a daunting prospect for most manufacturers, but for Smethwick based AJS Profiles Ltd, it has become a promise that enables it to outperform its competitors. For anybody purchasing steel profiling services, long lead-times are often the norm and that's why AJS has become the envy of the industry with its capacity, capability and of course short turnaround times that have generated growth in the region of 45% over the last two years.

As one of the largest and most successful steel profiling companies in the UK, AJS Profiles has maintained its commitment to customer satisfaction by investing in the most productive and reliable plant. Over the last few years, this has seen the West Midlands company invest heavily in oxy-fuel and plasma cutting technology from Kerf Developments.

AJS Profiles Cuts 450mm Thick Steel With Kerf 'Monster Machine' 1

Until the first Kerf machine acquisition in 2011, AJS Profiles had a 22,000sq/ft facility with cutting machines from a variety of vendors that were all selected on their merits. However, reliability and the consequent lack of support from some machine suppliers led to the purchase of a Kerf RUR3500G multi-head oxyfuel cutting machine. The productivity, training, ease of use through the Burny control unit and the support from Kerf, led to the installation of an RUR2500P high definition plasma machine just a

month later. 

Over a three year period, the build quality and productivity levels of the Kerf range has been second to none. This addition of Kerf machines and new staff has underpinned the phenomenal growth levels that took the company from its long-serving 22,000sq/ft facility into an additional 25,000 sq ft in May 2014. With new employees taking the staff numbers to 25 and an increased floor space, the subcontract supplier to the aerospace, nuclear, automotive, construction and rail industries has now embarked upon filling its remaining floor-space with more Kerf machines.

As AJS Profiles Ltd Director, Mr Neil Webb comments: "Bringing in new staff and increasing the plant list and capacity levels have generated huge growth and a lot of this was initially consumed by the third Kerf machine we bought last April, a RUR3500P high definition plasma machine with a 6m by 3m bed. As the order book filled, we wanted a machine that could rapidly cut the most common steel thicknesses from 3mm to 32mm. The performance of the RUR3500P theoretically absorbed the workload of two alternate oxy-fuel machines and gave us the capacity to maintain our lead times despite a huge influx of work. With the business enjoying growth, 2014 saw us purchase an additional three Kerf machines."

The glowing endorsement for the Kerf reliability and service was confirmed when AJS Profiles took delivery of a multi-head oxy-fuel cutting RUR3500G machine in October. In fact, the growth at AJS Profiles and its confidence in Kerf then noted the profiling specialist buy a second machine in October

2014 from the 2nd hand market, an RUM4000G multi-head oxy fuel machine. The final acquisition in November 2014 can only be described as a monster of a machine. The RUM3000G multi-head oxy-fuel machine has high powered cutting heads for efficiently cutting through steel profiles up to a staggering 500mm thick. The plant list at AJS now stands at 10 cutting machines (6 from Kerf) that is complemented by the UK's largest range of Lumsden Grinding MACHINES capable of processing diameters up to 3430mm.

AJS Profiles Cuts 450mm Thick Steel With Kerf 'Monster Machine' 2

Whilst the UK's largest range of Lumsden grinders is impressive, its undoubtedly the new Kerf RUM3000G that heats the enthusiasm and shop floor at AJS. As Mr Webb continues:

"The specification of the RUM3000G says it is capable of cutting up to 450mm thick material and we have already cut steel profiles at 330mm. It’s so powerful I wouldn't be surprised if it could cut plates over 600mm thick! Having this capability takes us into new markets that are far beyond that of our competitors."

To process such gigantic profiles, the Kerf RUM3000G is a bespoke solution that incorporates a cutting head from OXY-ARC that has been designed with gas inlet pipes that are 3 times thicker than standard to increase the flow of oxygen and propane. The machine gantry is armour plated to protect the cables and connections from heat. With the RUM3000G generating such heat, the machine also has air-conditioning units inside the gantry to dissipate the heat. 

Concluding upon  the rapidly expanding line of Kerf machines at AJS Profiles, Mr Webb says: "The broad range of Kerf cutting machines enable us to process steel profiles up to 10m by 3.4m with a thickness ranging from 3 to 450mm and probably beyond. The machines can accept payloads beyond 20 tonnes and it is this robust build quality, reliability, the modular ability to extend the bed sizes, the cut quality and above all the service that keeps us buying Kerf machines. We initially bought Kerf on a

promise of quality, reliability and support - the company has never let us down on these promises and this is key to AJS maintaining its reputation for rapid turnaround work."

Steel Manufacturer Benefits From the Latest Kerf Profiler

Evolving from a small blacksmiths to a 1.5 acre site, John Thorburn & Sons Ltd has grown beyond recognition during its 70 year history. The family run business that specialises in the construction, agriculture and commercial steel-working sectors has always invested in the latest technology to underpin its continuous growth. This investment has now seen the Scottish company invest in an UltraSharp plasma cutting machine from Rochdale based Kerf Developments.

Employing over 50 staff that operate a variety of turning and milling centres as well as punching, pressing, fabricating and guillotine equipment, the modern-day business primarily manufactures, fabricates and erects agricultural buildings and structures. To manufacture the numerous components that constitute a complete steel building structure, Duns based John Thorburn & Sons relied upon its guillotine, punching, steel working and fabricating equipment until the arrival of a Kerf RUR2500 plasma cutting machine.

Commenting on why the company bought the Kerf RUR2500, Managing Director Mr John Thorburn says: "We recognised that our method of cropping, punching and drilling plates was cumbersome, time consuming and slowing down our throughput. All our jobs had to be handled and re-worked on a variety of different machines to arrive at a finished part. Additionally, we had to stock a large range of steel bar widths and thicknesses and this was taking a lot of floor space. Kerf has instantly eliminated all of these issues."

Steel Manufacturer Benefits From the Latest Kerf Profiler 3

John Thorburn & Sons investigated the various options and it arrived at the conclusion that Kerf Developments had the most suitable solution for its needs. The Berwickshire business specified the RUR2500 with a 6m by 2m bed, so it could comfortably fit 4m by 2m by 20mm thick plate on the machine. This size cutting bed enables the company to use the nesting facility on the Kerf machine to cut up to 50 stanchion base plates in a single set­up.

Raising the Bar on Profitability

The stanchion base plates that are required in considerable batches for the assembly of agricultural buildings were previously cut from 400mm by 20mm thick steel bar that was 6,400mm long. By purchasing 4m by 2m by 20mm thick plates instead of bar, the company instantly reduced material costs by over 30%. In fact, Mr Thorburn has calculated the change from bar to plate has taken stanchion material costs from £15 to less than £10 per unit. Furthermore, the nesting software supplied with the RUR2500 machine enables John Thorburn & Sons to set up a plate and instantly cut a batch of parts, further maximising material utilisation and reducing costs.

"The material savings have been significant for us, but this is just a by-product of the Kerf plasma. We bought the machine to streamline productivity and it's certainly done that. Stanchion plates used to require manual cropping, punching and drilling. This prolonged process would require several machines and it was a full-time job for our staff. The production time used to be almost 20 minutes per plate; the Kerf plasma has reduced this to less than 2 minutes. That is a massive cycle time saving, which is enhanced by the fact that our staff can set the Kerf machine up and then carry-on with welding jobs."

Taking the setting up and nesting process a set further, the 6m bed enables John Thorburn & Sons to set up a range of plate sizes, meaning a complete inventory of parts for a project can be processed in a single set-up. The 275 amp machine is powered by the Lincoln Electric Spirit plasma unit and by utilising Kerf's Ultrasharp technology, the customer can cut profiles, holes and slots with impeccable precision levels and edge finishes.

Steel Manufacturer Benefits From the Latest Kerf Profiler 4

The ability of the Ultrasharp system to cut precision holes from the 20mm thick steel plates has cut cycle times on the end plates the company produces for steel building rafters. As Mr Thorburn recalls: "Some end plates would need up to 12 holes per plate with different location points and diameters. This would require each plate to be cut, have the first hole punched or drilled and then the second hole and so on. This process would see each plate handled multiple times, slowing the production cycle. Each plate used to take upwards of 30 minutes to produce, the Kerf RUR2500 now does each plate in less than 3 minutes. This means a batch of plates that would take 3 days to produce can now be made on the Kerf machine in a few hours."

As well as achieving the desired impact on production times and throughput, John Thorburn and Sons has also been making savings on its gas consumption. As Mr Thorburn continues: "We were using high volumes of oxygen and acetylene for manual fabrication work. This cost of £600 per month has been eliminated and whilst the Kerf plasma has consumable costs, they are nominal compared to what we were spending previously. "

Kerf Takes The Business Forward

As a result of acquiring the Kerf UltraSharp plasma machine, the Scottish company has streamlined production, reduced steel stockholding, freed machine tool and labour capacity and reduced material and consumable costs. As a result of releasing this extra capacity, the company has now started offering subcontract cutting services as well as targeting a wider variety of work in its core market segments. As Mr Thorburn continues: "We are now taking on work such as cattle handling parts, steel flanges, grain handling, cattle feeding systems and much more. The RUR2500 has made a huge difference to our business and as we move forward, the Kerf machine will propel us into new market segments with our new capabilities. We're delighted with the machine; it's done everything we wanted and much more."

John Thorburn & Sons - April 2021

About Kerf

Founded in 2001, Kerf Developments have grown over the years to become the leading supplier of profile cutting machines in the UK and Ireland.

The company was originally formed to provide a repair and support service for customers operating a range of profile cutting machines. These machines were varied in size and capabilities. From small magic-eye gas cutting machines through to automated plasma and high pressure waterjet cutting solutions.

As the company’s reputation for repairing and in some cases upgrading older machinery spread – predominantly through word of mouth, additional engineers were employed to provide additional cover for the UK and Ireland. 

It was a chance request from a customer who stated that his older machine had reached the end of its life and needed replacing that journeyed the Kerf team towards machine development. The customer asked Kerf and it’s engineers to design and build a new machine using their considerable experience of what were the “best” products available.

The first machine was built using a rail based design which helped to isolate delicate electronic systems from shock loading, particularly when loading and unloading large steel plates from the machine. The control system selected was from Burny which has proven itself to be very reliable in challenging industrial applications across the world.

Heavy duty downdraft cutting tables were selected and the plasma unit was a high definition system supplied by Hypertherm.

After the installation, news of the productivity and reliability that the new machine provided along with the quality and accuracy of the parts being cut spread, and further orders for similar machines came flooding in.

The simplistic design and choice of best in class products are still in use today with new machines utilising the current Burny control systems, INOVA electronic torch height controls, and with the latest best in class UltraSharp plasma systems supplied by Lincoln Electric.

The success of the company has been based on providing quality products at competitive prices and backing the equipment up with effective customer service and support be it for oxy-fuel, plasma or waterjet cutting technology.

If It's Not Burning, It's Not Earning!

To realise its ambitions of being the UK's leading independent profiling and processing company, the P.P. Group has consolidated its business interests by bringing its three manufacturing facilities in Salford, Gorton and St Helens, under one roof - a brand new 110,000sq/ft 6 acre site in Oldham. Moving to its new factory in 2017, the £9m investment included a 36m oxy-fuel and plasma cutting cell from Kerf Developments.

If It's Not Burning, It's Not Earning! 5

The significant investment is testament to the success of a business that has a 5% 'book debt' limit on its client base. By limiting and spreading the risk ratio of its client base, the company has continually evolved to a position that it is now profiling, processing, fabricating and welding beyond 12,000 tonnes of steel every year. To emphasise how central the Kerf RUM4500g oxy-fuel and RUM4500p high-definition plasma cutting machine has become to the strategy for continued growth; the machine is processing over 400 tonnes of steel each month. This equates to almost 40% of the material that passes through the doors of the 100 employee company.

Discussing the installation of the Kerf RUM4500 cell, P.P. Group Managing Director, Mr Peter McCabe says: "In our previous factories we had 9 by 4m plasma cutting machine for processing steel up to 40mm thick and a 22 by 5m flame cutting machine for materials up to 200mm thick. The machines were more than 10 years old, they were unreliable and this was compounded by poor service and support. Additionally, the machines were expensive to run, not particularly user friendly and the machine configuration didn't suit pendulum loading. We made the business decision not to bring the machines to the new factory. We looked at replacing them with a more efficient, productive, cost- effective and user friendly solution. Kerf Developments had exactly what we were looking for."

With plasma and flame cutting being central to business activities, getting the most suitable machine was critical. The bespoke production cell configuration selected by the P.P. Group was a 12m by 3.5m bed with an RUM4500p single gantry 400amp Lincoln Electric high definition plasma cutting head with UltraSharp cut technology and a 24m by 3.5m table with two RUM4500g gantries, each with four oxy-fuel flame cutting heads - all on a single platform. This single bed configuration has streamlined workflow and improved throughput whilst the 8 oxy-fuel heads have improved productivity by more than 35%.

"Since we installed the Kerf RUM4500 system, the cell has been operating 24 hours a day and 6 days a week, it is a major contributor to our growth. If it's not burning, it's not earning. Prior to the Kerf installation, we didn't have the confidence to sell our capacity as the old machines were inefficient, unreliable and the machine beds were too high. Our business has grown by 10% in the year since we moved to the new factory and the Kerf cutting cell is a major contributor to this growth."

If It's Not Burning, It's Not Earning! 6

The height of the bed on the previous machines made loading and unloading a challenge for staff. The Kerf RUM system has a larger bed than the previous two machines combined, and it is positioned at an ergonomically suitable height that makes loading and unloading convenient for operators. The large bed also allows the company to conduct pendulum cutting, this enables staff to load one plate or unload parts while the machine is cutting another plate. This immediately reduces processing times by 50%. The 12m bed section of the Kerf plasma machine was designed purely for pendulum cutting, as carbon steel plates are supplied in 6m lengths as standard.

"The Kerf system has reduced cycle times by 50% due to the facility for pendulum cutting. The Burny 10 LCD CNC control unit is very easy to use and it makes programming profiles fast and efficient. The kinematics of the Kerf machine combined with the Burny 10 control and the Ultrasharp cutting technology enables us to nest our parts with precision and proximity that wasn't previously feasible. This is reducing our waste material and allowing us to cut more parts from each plate."

"The Ultrasharp technology has also improved surface finishes on cut profiles and this has drastically reduced hand finishing operations. One operator would previously be spending 4-5 hours a day hand finishing parts and this is no longer necessary. Added to this saving, the efficiency of the Kerf machine has reduced our consumable consumption by at least 30%. We cannot praise Kerf highly enough. The service has been exceptional and we have the confidence in the machine and the Kerf support to build our profiling capacity around this machine. The Kerf RUM4500 cell has delivered productivity gains, throughput efficiency, labour and consumable savings and cost reductions. We couldn't ask for anything more from an equipment supplier."            PP Group January 2021

About Kerf

Founded in 2001, Kerf Developments have grown over the years to become the leading supplier of profile cutting machines in the UK and Ireland.

The company was originally formed to provide a repair and support service for customers operating a range of profile cutting machines. These machines were varied in size and capabilities. From small magic-eye gas cutting machines through to automated plasma and high pressure waterjet cutting solutions.

As the company’s reputation for repairing and in some cases upgrading older machinery spread – predominantly through word of mouth, additional engineers were employed to provide additional cover for the UK and Ireland. 

It was a chance request from a customer who stated that his older machine had reached the end of its life and needed replacing that journeyed the Kerf team towards machine development. The customer asked Kerf and it’s engineers to design and build a new machine using their considerable experience of what were the “best” products available.

The first machine was built using a rail based design which helped to isolate delicate electronic systems from shock loading, particularly when loading and unloading large steel plates from the machine. The control system selected was from Burny which has proven itself to be very reliable in challenging industrial applications across the world.

Heavy duty downdraft cutting tables were selected and the plasma unit was a high definition system supplied by Hypertherm.

After the installation, news of the productivity and reliability that the new machine provided along with the quality and accuracy of the parts being cut spread, and further orders for similar machines came flooding in.

The simplistic design and choice of best in class products are still in use today with new machines utilising the current Burny control systems, INOVA electronic torch height controls, and with the latest best in class UltraSharp plasma systems supplied by Lincoln Electric.

The success of the company has been based on providing quality products at competitive prices and backing the equipment up with effective customer service and support be it for oxy-fuel, plasma or waterjet cutting technology.

Irish Manufacturer Cuts Bottlenecks & Costs With a Kerf Plasma Machine

As a general welding and fabrication subcontractor, Clonakilty Engineering Ltd was finding that its growth potential was being held back by the lead-times of its supply chain. To eradicate the lengthy lead-times and costs of using subcontract laser cutting services, the County Cork based manufacturer has invested in an RUR2000p high definition plasma cutting machine from Kerf Developments.

Founded in 1989, the Irish subcontract company has witnessed steady growth since its inception, working with high profile companies such as Intel, Pfizer and ABP foods to name a few. However, when the company moved from its long term 3,000sq/ft facility to a new 10,000sq/ft factory in 2011, its ambition for growth had evolved. As Clonakilty Engineering's Workshop Manager, Mr David Guest recalls: "When we moved to our new factory, we realised we had the space to acquire a laser cutting machine. However, the level of business as we came off the recession couldn't justify the investment. We have steadily grown by 10% year on year since the downturn, this prompted us to investigate the laser cutting market."

Irish Manufacturer Cuts Bottlenecks & Costs With a Kerf Plasma Machine 7

The company didn't have the facility to laser cut its material in­house and this caused considerable bottlenecks in its workflow. By subcontracting out its laser cutting of stainless and mild steel sheets from 3 to 25mm thick, the lead times for the Irish company were extended by up to 4 days, which wasn't feasible for many customers. The manufacturer of steel components for the construction, medical, science, agricultural, food and pharmaceutical sectors investigated the laser cutting market and immediately took a liking to the Kerf brand of machines.

Changing Perception

As Clonakilty previously relied on its subcontractor for laser cutting, the company had little experience of the process. By speaking to Kerf, the Rochdale based cutting specialist; both parties identified the high cost of laser machines and that Kerf's high definition plasma range of machines could deliver precision and cut quality similar to that of a CNC laser cutting machine at a much lower cost. As Mr Guest continues: "I was of the perception that we needed an expensive CNC laser cutting machine. I explained our type of work to the Kerf engineers and they suggested a demonstration on a lower-cost plasma cutting machine. I was really surprised by the +/- 0.25mm precision level, speed and cut quality of the Kaliburn high definition plasma unit on the Kerf RUR2000p machine. We instantly made our decision to invest." For 14 employee Clonakilty, business would never be the same again...

The Benefits Delivered By The Kerf Plasma...

The immediate benefit was that Clonakilty eliminated the bottleneck created by sending steel sheets to its laser cutting subcontractor.

Irish Manufacturer Cuts Bottlenecks & Costs With a Kerf Plasma Machine 8

Turnaround times with the external supplier fell from 4-5 days and the company now sets its jobs up almost as soon as they cothe profiles internally has instantly eliminated the monthly cost of subcontract cutting.

By cutting its own steel profiles, Clonakilty is also cashing-in on the return from its steel scrap, which its subcontract supplier was previously sending for disposal. At the current scrap rate of €130 Euros per tonne, the business is generating an additional return of €700 to €1000 Euros each month.

Furthermore, by utilising the Kerf nesting software within the Burny 10 LCD control unit, the company is processing more parts from each steel sheet. As Mr Guest continues: "The financial, material and time savings have been phenomenal. We can utilise all our remnants from larger jobs and use them to produce small jobs and this is cutting our waste material whilst maximising our profitability. At present, we are producing a 2m diameter flange and an 80mm square bracket in batches of beyond 500, so our workload and material usage is very diverse. Being able to control this internally is making a huge saving. Furthermore, I am really surprised by the low running costs of the Kerf machine. We've made over 50,000 piercings and use the machine almost all day every day - and the cost of consumables and running the machine are both remarkably low."

Moving Forward With Kerf

When Clonakilty specified the Kerf RUR2000p, it wanted a machine table to suit its requirement to manufacture 4m long steel staircases. So, Kerf duly obliged with a 4.5 by 1.5m bed on the machine. This also enables Clonakilty to place more sheets and respective components on the machine, which is helping it to further increase its eye watering turnaround times. What it also provides, is the facility to expand the scope of the work taken on by the subcontract company. As Mr Guest says: "Our business has gone from a steady 10% year on year growth to over 30% since having the Kerf machine. The majority of this business is attributed to our acquisition of the Kerf RUR2000p. We have been able to increase the complexity and intricacy of our work when required; and this has stopped us from turning work away on the grounds that it previously had an unfeasible lead time or the margin was too small. In fact, the Kerf machine now sees us providing a subcontract cutting service to new and existing customers as well as enabling us to profile all our parts."

"The results have been really impressive. Moreover, the service, support and friendly approach of Kerf means that when we eventually need another machine, Kerf will be our first port of call," concludes Mr Guest.

About Kerf

Founded in 2001, Kerf Developments have grown over the years to become the leading supplier of profile cutting machines in the UK and Ireland.

The company was originally formed to provide a repair and support service for customers operating a range of profile cutting machines. These machines were varied in size and capabilities. From small magic-eye gas cutting machines through to automated plasma and high pressure waterjet cutting solutions.

As the company’s reputation for repairing and in some cases upgrading older machinery spread – predominantly through word of mouth, additional engineers were employed to provide additional cover for the UK and Ireland. 

It was a chance request from a customer who stated that his older machine had reached the end of its life and needed replacing that journeyed the Kerf team towards machine development. The customer asked Kerf and it’s engineers to design and build a new machine using their considerable experience of what were the “best” products available.

The first machine was built using a rail based design which helped to isolate delicate electronic systems from shock loading, particularly when loading and unloading large steel plates from the machine. The control system selected was from Burny which has proven itself to be very reliable in challenging industrial applications across the world.

Heavy duty downdraft cutting tables were selected and the plasma unit was a high definition system supplied by Hypertherm.

After the installation, news of the productivity and reliability that the new machine provided along with the quality and accuracy of the parts being cut spread, and further orders for similar machines came flooding in.

The simplistic design and choice of best in class products are still in use today with new machines utilising the current Burny control systems, INOVA electronic torch height controls, and with the latest best in class UltraSharp plasma systems supplied by Lincoln Electric.

The success of the company has been based on providing quality products at competitive prices and backing the equipment up with effective customer service and support be it for oxy-fuel, plasma or waterjet cutting technology.

The Evolution of the Plasma Cutting Process

The plasma cutting process has been around for many years and is proving to be a very flexible and cost effective method of manufacture. Systems are available that can cut 1mm thick parts right the way through to 60mm thick parts. The process is being used to cut aluminium, mild steel, stainless steel and the toughest wear resistant material.

Manufacturers from around the globe make great claims for their plasma units being the “best available” and “market leading”, however, many of the issues that might allow them to reach such a high accolade are out of their control.  

Plasma units form a key part of the cutting process, however, it’s the sum of the complimentary parts that controls, holds and moves the plasma cutting torch that will ultimately define the cut quality.

Historically early CNC profiling machines were fitted with single or multiple oxy-fuel cutting heads.

CNC Profiling Machine

These machines were built using large heavy castings and/or structural beams and driven around at relatively slow speeds using gearboxes with large motors.  Machines are still available to this day that still utilise this type of design.

Modern high speed precision plasma cutting machines need to be able to accelerate, decelerate and change direction in a smooth controlled and vibration free manner.  To achieve this requires a more refined machine design that includes the following features.

Key COMPONENTS FOR ULTIMATE MACHINE DESIGN

The Evolution of the Plasma Cutting Process 9

The key components that would form the “ultimate” machine design would include ……..

The Evolution of the Plasma Cutting Process 10

As the saying goes “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and that is very much the case with a plasma cutting machine installation.  A well designed machine that is serviced on a regular basis and fitted with the manufacturers’ original parts and consumables will reward you with years of reliable operation.

All you need do now is find a manufacturer who can deliver a machine and plasma unit to the above specification and who has a reputation for providing you with the quality of service and support that this type of technology requires!

The key to the success of Kerf is Independence

Kerf Developments and its team of experienced engineers have developed a wide range of profile cutting machines. These include solutions for oxy-fuel, plasma and waterjet cutting applications.

The company remains owned and managed by the original founder of the Company. Key to the success has been the belief that equipment should be selected on merit. We believe that all of our machines utilise best in class elements that offer excellent performance and reliability.

Being completely independent brings significant benefits for our design team and indeed our customers. We are able to evaluate new products as and when they are launched and establish if they are suitable, reliable and cost-effective for our customers.  We will only offer new products to our customers when our engineers are completely satisfied that they meet our in-house standards.

When applying these standards and beliefs to the specification for the “ultimate” plasma machine we have highlighted what we would recommend and the reason for the choice.

The key components that would form the “ultimate” machine design would include ……..

The bridge on Kerf plasma machines are strong portal frames manufactured from steel. They are fully welded, stress relieved and subsequently machined. They provide an excellent solid base onto which we mount the drive systems. The design of the RUR and RUM machines are such that other aspects (such as control system) can be replaced or upgraded if required to support new technology as and when it is available. A good example of this being the development of the UltraSharp precision plasma cutting technology.

The Evolution of the Plasma Cutting Process 11

A reliable and predictable CNC control and motion system that can position the cutting torch exactly where it needs to be in a smooth and controlled manner. The controller should be able to provide feedback to the user and communicate with the plasma unit to set power settings, speeds, feeds and gas pressures where appropriate.

Burny controller systems

The Evolution of the Plasma Cutting Process 12

Over the years Kerf have supplied a range of BURNY controller and drive systems. Our reason for opting for this unit goes back to the formative years of the Company where at the time we only offered service and repair for third party machines. It was clear at the time that the BURNY units were very reliable even in the most hostile of environments.

The modern BURNY systems provide reliable control and drive systems that feature ease of use and reliability. Furthermore for an OEM they provide Kerf with the highest possible levels of support which is something that we value greatly. There are lower cost options out there in the market; however, for our new oxy-fuel, plasma and waterjet machines Kerf specify a BURNY control system

The spring loaded EasyGlide drive system that we use in conjunction with the Burny systems eliminate backlash and reduces power consumption throughout the motion control system.

Precision electronic torch height control that can maintain the exact pierce and cut height for the plasma process. This needs to be vibration free as any movement or vibration in the torch will transmit into similar marks on the cut profile.

The Evolution of the Plasma Cutting Process 13
Our choice of electronic torch height control is the INOVA.  The unit is extremely stable and provides precision height control.

The unit lowers the torch assembly down to the workpiece and sets the initial pierce height.

Having pierced the material, the INOVA unit then maintains the correct cut height above the plate and is constantly being adjusted as the head moves over the plate.

Safety breakaway device for the torch. This needs to be “rigid” but also able to protect the torch over the life of the machine.

These are typically either magnetic or maintenance free pneumatic style. Whichever style is selected the torch needs to maintain its rigidity as it operates during the cutting process.

Kerf can provide either a magnetic or pneumatic torch protection system.

Given the environment in which plasma machines operate our preference is for the maintenance free sealed pneumatic type.

The unit is linked to the e-stop system and once activated stops the machine immediately should the torch come into contact with anything on the machine cutting bed.

Independent downdraft cutting tables that are not connected in any way to the motion system.  By remaining stand alone, the tables will ensure that vibrations are not introduced into the motion control system whilst cutting.

The heavy duty tables that Kerf supply have been designed to efficiently collect the dross in bins and at the same time extract the fumes generated by the cutting process.

The bins are approximately 500mm wide and controlled by pneumatic rams that open and shut baffle plates. 

By extracting the fumes from the area immediately under the cutting torch and immediate surrounding area the tables are highly efficient.






Advanced CAM software that can take base CAD geometry and apply appropriate technology to the part to ensure consistent high quality profiles are cut.

This should include intelligent selection of cutting speeds for holes, slots and other internal features together with intelligent strategies to pierce and lead-in and lead out of cut profiles. Failure to do so will impact consumable life and subsequent cut quality.

The strategy of some machine suppliers is to offer their own dedicated software system. It is often seen as an easy option. Longer term however it does tie you as a user to one particular style of machine.

Kerf’s strategy is to work with leading independent global suppliers whose systems are not tied to any particular process or machine type.

This then allows our customers the freedom to invest in new equipment at a later date without having to compromise on selecting the most suitable machine manufacturer or scrap their previous investment in CAD and CAM databases.

The value of your production database should not be underestimated. It is worth significantly more than the initial cost of the software.

Picture map 1

Kerf has worked with several independent CADCAM suppliers over the years. There are systems on the market that offer differing levels of user control and automation.  For installations where customers already have a CAM installation Kerf are happy to work with customers and their suppliers for the creation of a machine efficient post processor.

For new installations or where UltraSharp cut quality is required our most popular system is the Lantek Expert system.

In addition to industry leading nesting algorithms the software offers fully automatic nesting, remnant and material management, automatic tool path selection, intelligent lead-in and lead-out strategies and strong data import facilities.

The software produces UltraSharp quality programs irrespective of the origin of the base geometry.

The Evolution of the Plasma Cutting Process 14
The Evolution of the Plasma Cutting Process 15

In addition Lantek offer a range of complimentary software products that streamline the production process together with support for other machine tool types such as punching machines, laser cutting machines, press brakes etc)

Plasma Units

The Evolution of the Plasma Cutting Process 16

As a supplier investing in numerous plasma systems we need the confidence that our supplier is offering reliable products and have the infrastructure to support us.  As the World’s largest supplier of welding and cutting systems Lincoln Electric have delivered excellent products to us and have been there to support Kerf and its customer base. As a key strategic partner we could not ask more from them.

The team at Kerf have no doubt that the Lincoln Electric Spirit II based systems fitted to our machines offer unrivalled price performance and have proven reliable operation. They offer excellent cut quality, consumable life and cost of operation.

Summary

When investing in this type of CNC technology you are doing so with a view to decreasing your costs and increasing your profits. This can be by possibly bringing work back in house or perhaps to offer a cutting service to others. Therefore the machine needs to be fit for purpose, reliable and when things go wrong, as they sometimes do;  you need the backing of a team of service and support engineers who know what they are talking about.

A high performance plasma cutting machine can reward you with returns in excess of a hundred pounds an hour if you are able to produce high quality parts. To counter that, a machine that lays idle waiting for spare parts, an engineer to arrive or simply for a call back from the supplier to resolve an issue will be costing you a similar figure plus the additional costs that the downstream disruption causes.  Furthermore the knock on effect it has with your customers and possibly their customers is potentially even more costly and damaging to your business.

The true value of a good quality machine, serviced in line with the manufacturers guidelines, backed up by a team of service and support engineers (with the availability of spare parts from stock!) should not be underestimated.

What Is High-Definition Plasma Cutting?

High-definition plasma cutting machines are a clear cut above standard systems. While this may not necessarily be relevant to you if the cut quality is not high on the priority list, it is crucial to know enough about these innovative tools to decide which plasma cutter is right for your needs.

For some, the additional accuracy, improvements in cut quality, and cutting speeds make high-definition plasma cutters a no-brainer, while others may not require this level of performance and are better off sticking with standard CNC plasma equipment. 

By developing a deeper understanding of the various plasma cutting approaches, you will better appreciate how beneficial high-definition plasma cutters can be. Even if you don’t opt for it right away, it can form part of your future work processes if and when you decide to upgrade your production line. 

Here is what you need to know about high-definition plasma cutting technology, how it improves over standard CNC plasma cutting, and whether it is the right option for you.

working with plasma cutting machines can make your workplace more efficient and productive, they are not without dangers.

Different types of metal cutting

Before you learn more about the benefits of high-definition plasma cutting, it is important to understand the different approaches to cutting metal and how they differ from one another.

One of the most effective forms of metal cutters is a conventional plasma cutting machine. This is a relatively low-cost solution, which allows you to cut metal far more quickly than if you were to use a laser machine. 

Alternatively, you could use an oxy fuel cutting machine, which is exceptionally accurate and is ideal if you are looking to create intricate designs on cut surfaces. They have a small plasma torch, which allows it to reach awkward, narrow, or minuscule areas of a piece of metal. 

Lastly, you could use a waterjet cutting machine, which is ideal if you are looking for an environmentally friendly and cost-efficient cutter that can be used in a wide variety of industries and tasks, such as profile cutting. It uses a mechanical sawing action to cut through materials rather than a thermal approach, such as plasma. The result is that it can cut through almost any metal with minimal waste. 

Benefits of high-definition plasma cutting

Now that you have a detailed overview of the alternative cutting solutions on offer, it is time to learn more about how high-definition plasma cutting machines can be of service. 

You are probably wondering why you would bother with the high-definition solution when the conventional plasma cutting machines are already so effective at cutting a wide range of both ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals.

The answer is that HD plasma machines allow you to cut thinner materials at a higher cutting speed, providing a high quality finish for cut parts. 

High-definition plasma cutters are similar to standard CNC machines, but they have a greater level of control over their plasma arcs, resulting in a superior cut quality. 

Therefore, it is best to treat high-definition plasma cutters as standard cutters that have been enhanced in every measurable way. If you are looking for the finest quality cuts, completed at high speed, without spending eye-watering amounts on operating costs, then this is a compelling option to consider.

Indeed, given the impressive cutting speeds and consumable life of its constituent parts, high-definition plasma cutting systems might be a more cost-effective solution than seemingly cheaper alternatives. 
If you are interested in high-definition plasma cutters, contact us now.

How Does a Water Jet Cutting Machine Work?

Are you thinking about investing in a water jet cutting machine?

If yes, then it can be a good idea to first find out how this high-speed cutting tool works.

Offering unrivalled precision cutting and the ability to cut a wide range of different materials, read on to find out exactly everything you need to know about this superior cutting process and how it can benefit your home or business.

What is a water jet cutting machine?

A “Waterjet Cutting Machine” is an industrial tool that uses high-pressure jets of water generated via a high-pressure pump – and that pump generates a lot of pressure – to cut through a variety of different materials. Waterjet cutting is most commonly used during the fabrication of machine parts in industries such as mining and aerospace.

There are many benefits to this type of cutting, including the ability to produce intricate cuts in metal without warping or affecting tempers.

How does a water jet cutting machine work?

As briefly touched upon above, water jet cutting relies on jets of water, sometimes combined with an abrasive, to cut through materials.

The abrasive is added in the nozzle so that you can easily switch between water and abrasive cutting depending on the type of material that you are cutting, or you can use a mixture of water and abrasive.

The abrasive waterjet nozzle uses the configuration of a mixing chamber and a tube to ensure efficient cutting. Although, if you are cutting soft material, an abrasive jet may not be needed, and a simple jet of water will be enough to make a clean cut. These cutters permit the production of accurate parts with minimal experience.

What materials can a water jet cutting machine cut through?

A water jet cutting machine can make sure you are cutting a wide variety of materials in no time due to its high-velocity cutting stream and the unique design of its cutting head.

Some materials that you can effectively cut through using a water jet cutter are:

In fact, there are very few materials that cannot be cut using a water jet cutting machine, unlike other cutting tools that are limited to only metals. Just remember to be careful when cutting soft materials.

What are the benefits of water jet cutting?

As well as the ability to cut through a wide range of different materials, there are many other benefits to choosing this method of cutting, including:

If you would like more information about how water jet cutting machines work or you want advice on how to choose the right water jet cutting machine for you or your business, then “contact us” here today and one of our friendly and knowledgeable team will do our best to help you.

What Materials Can a Waterjet Cutting Machine Cut Through?

Waterjet cutting machines are incredibly useful tools because they can easily cut through an incredible range of materials. Many cutters or drills have a difficult time cutting through dense materials like concrete or metals, but waterjets take it in their stride.

This is why they are regarded so highly in a variety of industries – from aerospace to healthcare, automotive to construction.

However, it is important to note that waterjet cutters aren’t invincible cutting machines that can be used on everything. Every tool has its limits, and you need to know exactly which materials it can cut, at what width, and with what quality.

Not only will this give you a clearer idea of whether it is the right type of cutter for you, but you will be able to get the most out of your waterjet cutter if you already have one.

For example, although waterjet cutters can theoretically slice through up to 12 inches of the following materials, it is not practical in everyday use. This is because you no longer get a clean cut and the cutting time becomes longer than is desirable.

Instead, it is better to stick to cutting depths of three inches.

In no particular order, these materials can be cut with a waterjet cutting machine:

Metals

First off we have metals, which waterjet cutting machines have the ability to cut through with ease, in a way that other cutting tools simply can’t match.

There are several reasons why metal is usually difficult to cut accurately. There are issues with stress and thermal distortion which results in a jagged, uneven cut. 

However, because waterjet machines use a cold-cutting method, the metal is not burnt or distorted by the heat involved. Not only does this provide a neat finish to the cut, but there is less waste afterward.

This even includes hardened tool steel and copper materials.

Glass

Another material that is often associated with water jet cutting is glass. Usually, glass is a time-consuming and resource-heavy material to cut, because of the number of tooling alterations required. 

Not so with waterjet cutting machines, which can accurately cut glass and provide the delicacy required, thanks to their unique cutting process. However, tempered glasses cannot be cut with a waterjet tool.

Composites

Composites - such as carbon fiber - are inherently brittle when cut. This is because a lot of the time they are thin materials. Other cutters cause burn marks and other blemishes, but when they’re cut with a waterjet they are preserved immaculately. 

Plastics 

Waterjet cutters are great for cutting plastic and reinforced plastics because they provide a neat cut without emitting any hazardous fumes, as there is no heat-affected zone involved. 

Stone

Waterjet machines can also cut stone. This is because these cutters don’t require any meaningful force to be pressed down on the stone, which is where other, more established cutting methods fail.

If you would like to find out more about waterjet cutters, contact us here.

Can a Plasma Cutter Cut Aluminium?

Plasma cutting is most commonly known for its ability to cut stainless steel, but you may be wondering if it can also be used to cut aluminium.

Within the below blog, you will discover if plasma cutting systems have the ability to effectively cut aluminium as well as how you can achieve a high-quality, clean cut.

Can you use a plasma cutter on aluminium?

Yes, you can use plasma cutting machines to cut through aluminium as it is an electrically conductive metal. Typically, plasma cutting can be used to cut through aluminium that is less than 6 inches thick, with the thicker the metal, the harder it is to cut through.

If you are interested to know more about how plasma cutters are able to cut aluminium and other conductive metals, then it is by using a concentrated stream of ionised gases that creates heat and essentially melts the metal. Therefore, all you need to cut through aluminium is a compressor (to provide compressed air), some form of gas, and a plasma cutting machine.

The best mix of gases for cutting aluminium with a plasma cutting machine is argon, hydrogen, and oxygen.

What level of cut quality can I expect when plasma cutting aluminium?

If you are worried that aluminium has too low a melting point to be cut accurately using a plasma cutting machine, then you needn’t be. Although it is true that the melting point of aluminium is lower than other metals, as long as you use the correct gases, you can get a clean cut on both thick and thin aluminium.

Furthermore, due to advancements in plasma cutting technology, you can now enjoy good angle variation that is comparable to mild and stainless steel.

How can you achieve a high-quality cut on aluminium?

To get the most precise cut when using a CNC plasma cutting machine on aluminium, you need to make sure that you use the settings detailed in the owner’s manual that came with your cutter.

You should also ensure that you move your torch in one direction only and make sure that it is a set distance from your workpiece.

Is laser cutting better for cutting aluminium?

Although laser cutting offers a highly fast and effective way to cut steel, it is actually not the best option when it comes to cutting aluminium. This is because you can’t use oxygen to laser cut aluminium. Instead, high-pressure nitrogen is needed, which provides much slower cutting speeds. Plus, you need a large amount of nitrogen to do this, which can prove costly.

When to NOT use a plasma cutter for aluminium

Most of the time, you can cut an aluminium plate or sheet using a plasma cutter. However, there are a few instances when this method of cutting should be avoided, including:

Are you looking for a new plasma cutting machine? Contact us here, and one of our friendly and knowledgeable team members will help you pick the right machine for your cutting needs.