Calculating the true cost of cut-off wheels in various applications goes well beyond the purchase price. 

What’s the difference between price and cost? Calculating the true cost of cut-off wheels in various applications goes well beyond the purchase price. 

Some operations choose cut-off wheels based solely on the initial price of the product. But the true cost of a wheel should also factor in the application, product lifespan, changeover frequency, efficiency, productivity, and labor.

Looking at more than the purchase price to consider a product’s total cost can help operations optimize cut-off wheel life and performance — saving time and money in the long run. 


When it comes to cut-off wheels, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Cut-off wheels come in many sizes, styles, and grain types. The best choice for a specific job will depend on factors like the thickness and type of material being cut, the power source and tool —whether it’s an electric, battery, or pneumatic tool — and potential space constraints.

For many operations, cut-off wheels are viewed as a commodity when actually, cutting speed and wheel life are two of the most important factors in performance and results. Management wants to minimize costs and labor, and users and welders want to get the cutting done as quickly as possible. 

Typically, wheels designed for long product life don’t cut as fast, while wheels that cut very quickly don’t offer as long of product life. Often, operations are forced to choose what is more important — cutting speed or product life.  

Selecting the right product for the material and using proper technique also play important roles in wheel performance and life. 


Choosing cut-off wheels based on the purchase price can result in using a lower-performance wheel that poses numerous problems, including: 

  • Shorter product life, which increases the number of wheels being used and therefore increases consumable costs. More frequent changeover, which increases the amount of time users spend on non-value-added activities — those that don’t contribute to throughput — and labor costs.
  • Poor cutting rate, which lowers productivity and may cause the user to use too much pressure on the wheel to get the job done, increasing user fatigue.
  • Burning while cutting, which means the wheel isn’t cutting well and can cause the user to push harder, increasing their fatigue and posing safety risks.  
  • Safety hazards, such as the chance of a wheel coming apart during use. For example, lower-performance wheels may have weaker fiberglass on the wheel rather than stronger fiberglass reinforcement, which results in a more durable wheel.

High-performance cut-off wheels provide consistency, safety advantages and increased productivity.  Some wheels also have a longer product life, so users can make more cuts per wheel with less frequent changeover. Other high-performance wheels offer faster cutting speeds, allowing the user to finish a job more quickly. Both of these wheel types result in increased productivity. Some high-performance wheels are the best of both, providing a combination of both life and speed.


The lower the price of the wheel, often the higher the total cost will be in the long run. Depending on the wheel, it may take longer to complete each cut or operators will use many more wheels to complete the same job. 

An operation may pay $1 per 4½-inch cut-off wheel but only get five cuts out of each wheel. That works out to $0.20 cents per cut. Compare that to a higher-quality wheel that is double the price — $2 per wheel — but gets 30 cuts per wheel. That works out to less than $0.07 cents per cut. Multiply that difference by 1,000 or 10,000 — whatever number of cut-off wheels an operation buys annually — and it can result in significant productivity increases and cost savings.  

For larger operations, this time saved per wheel can have a large impact when extrapolated across the cutting and welding operation. In addition, operators in larger facilities may have to walk across the plant to the tool room each time they need a new wheel. If wheel changeover time averages three to 10 minutes per wheel change, this time adds up in the course of a day or week. The more time spent on wheel changeover, the higher the labor costs involved — and the less time the operator spends cutting and welding. 

The right product and proper technique are also important for wheel performance and life.

The need for fewer wheel changeovers could put 30 or 40 minutes — even an hour or more — back in the user’s day, potentially adding up to thousands of euros saved each year in labor time, improved productivity and using fewer wheels. 


How do companies determine which wheel is best in a specific application or operation? Do they have to sacrifice wheel life to get better cutting speed or vice versa? Are they using too many wheels? How much of the wheel is actually being used? Unfortunately, operations may not always be aware of what a product is actually costing them. Operations are likely looking to improve productivity or reduce costs if they see issues in the production line. Others may be focused on the status quo and overlook how much cost savings a change could provide.  

Companies can conduct a cost analysis to determine cut-off wheel costs, a process that is made easier by working with abrasives experts. The process doesn’t have to interrupt production or take up time at facilities. 

The Weiler Consumable Productivity Program is offered by Weiler Abrasives at no cost to the operation. It evaluates, measures and compares wheel performance and calculates the true cost of cut-off wheels for any applications or operations. It provides the information to determine the efficiency of current cut-off wheels. Larger operations, like shipyards or foundries, can especially benefit from studying the data, since they may be buying 10,000 to 100,000 wheels per year, possibly even more. But even smaller operations can save money from figuring out the true cost of wheels. 

Through real-life testing onsite at a user’s facility, which can be combined with testing at Weiler Abrasives labs, data is gathered to establish a baseline using the current cutting process. Users can then compare product life, cycle times, cutting rate, cutting index, material costs (initial wheel price) and labor costs between different wheels used on the same materials and same tools with the same parameters.

Once the evaluation is complete, Weiler Abrasives reviews the findings with operations and provides print and digital documentation of the results. An action plan can be created based on projected annual costs or the savings that different solutions can provide. 


Cut-off wheels are often one of the least expensive consumables or pieces of equipment that many operations buy. However, when an operation uses hundreds or even thousands of wheels per month, these costs add up. Using cost analysis data to determine the true cost of cut-off wheels in a specific operation can help companies save significant time and money — while getting more product out the door. A product evaluation and cost analysis provide information needed to reduce costs and make a better-informed, cost-saving decision. 

Today, more than ever, companies are looking for new ways to increase productivity and profitability. Weiler Abrasives Group Consumable Productivity Program can help operations do exactly that.  

Previously Featured on Weiler Abrasives Articles & News.

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