The 3 most costly mistakes when cutting large workpieces – and how to avoid them

15 Feb 2022


Sectioning large workpieces does not have to be time-consuming. Avoid these three mistakes to vastly improve the efficiency of your cutting process.

Learn how to:
- Save time with more efficient clamping
- Optimize speed and reduce costs with the right cut-off wheel
- Improve speed, quality and reproducibility with automatic cutting

When it comes to materialographic analysis of large workpieces, cutting is the foundation of a good process. But due to their size, sectioning large workpieces can be difficult. According to our materialographic experts, there are three main challenges when sectioning large workpieces – and each one can add additional time to your process or compromise the quality of your results. 
This quick troubleshooting guide shows you how to improve your efficiency and reproducibility when preparing large samples.

Mistake #1: Wasting time on clamping

Correct clamping is crucial for your efficiency. This is especially true when materialographic cutting large workpieces. 
If you don’t use the right clamping tools, the time you spend clamping large workpieces can quickly grow out of proportion with the rest of the sectioning process. Worse still, large workpieces are more likely to move if not clamped properly. This can mean extra clamping time is required during cutting or, worse still, ruined samples. 

The solution: Better or customized clamping tools

If you often work with large pieces, make sure you have a good selection of clamping tools to choose from, as having the right tool at hand can save a great deal of time. 
If you often work with similarly shaped pieces, customized clamping tools are by far the most efficient option. Not only does a customized clamping tool save you time, but it also gives you an easily reproducible process by ensuring alignment between your sample and the cut-off wheel and reducing the risk of cut-off wheel deflection. 

Mistake #2: Throwing away time and resources with the wrong cut-off wheel

When sectioning large workpieces, wear on the cut-off wheel is bigger per specimen than on smaller workpieces – simply because more material has to be cut. If your cut-off wheel wears too fast, you may have to change it in the middle of a sectioning sequence, which is a time-consuming process. Therefore, you should aim for the least wear possible – and try to get the maximum number of cuts out of each cut-off wheel per sectioning sequence. 

The solution: Find the right cut-off wheel for your sectioning task
Many factors – from the feed speed and cooling level to the material and geometry of the section – can influence cutting quality, speed and thermal damage. Our cut-off wheels are optimized for specific sectioning tasks. Choose the right one, and you can vastly reduce cut-off wheel wear to maximize your use of resources and shorten your cutting time.

Mistake #3: Reducing quality by using the wrong cut-off machine

When sectioning large workpieces, the large contact surface between the material and the cut-off wheel means there is a bigger risk heat being generated. As a result, thermal damage can be a problem. Thermal damage is a burning in the material’s surface, which changes the micro-structure of the material. This damage has to be removed through plane grinding – and so adds more time to your overall process. 

The solution: Combine the correct cut-off machine, accessories and consumablesOptimize your sectioning of large workpieces by choosing a cut-off machine, cooling unit, clamping tools and cut-off wheels to best suit your tasks.

Many cut-off machines include special automatic cutting modes, which ensure optimal feed speed, constant results and less wheel wear. With Struers’ machines, you choose between three different automatic cutting modes:

AxioCut Sweep for fast sectioning and optimum wheel economy
The cut-off wheel moves back and forth, swiping across the specimen to avoid overheating. This makes it possible to cut large workpieces quickly, without thermal damage, while minimizing wear on the cutting wheel. 

AxioCut Step for even faster sectioning
The cut-off wheel moves up and down the sample, minimizing the contact area and avoiding overheating and thermal damage. Cutting is faster than with the AxioCut mode, but cut-off wheel wear is greater.

ExciCut for cutting hard materials without thermal damage
ExciCut uses an oscillating movement of the cut-off wheel to reduce the contact area between the cut-off wheel and the workpiece. This enables you to cut very hard materials in large sizes without thermal damage. At the same time, it makes it possible to use harder cut-off wheels, which have a longer lifetime and reduce your costs.