What You Need to Know About Diamond Blades
The topic “what you need to know about diamond blades” is vast and could be explored to virtually infinite depth. In this post, we will explore three basic things you need to know about diamond blades that can affect your day-to-day usage.
At some point, good fabricators develop an appreciation for high quality tools and equipment. That is not to say that every situation or production method must use the highest performing equipment. The cost of the tool and consumables for that tool play a role in the bottom line of the profit of the business. However, there are other times when the higher price for a long lasting tool is well worth the expense. One piece of equipment where this is the case is diamond blades.
High quality diamond blades can be costly. Since this is true, it makes sense to understand some basic concepts regarding diamond blades. Having a basic understanding will help fabrication workers not only select the proper blade for the job, but also enable the fabricator to get the best results and longevity from a given blade.
Diamond Blade Construction
The first area to get an understanding of is blade construction. Having insight into what components make up a diamond blade and the roles they play in the blade’s performance lays the foundation for using the blade properly and getting the best results from your diamond blades. Here, we will discuss two main components:
The Diamond Blade Core
The first primary component of a diamond blade that we will consider is the diamond blade core. The core of a diamond blade is the round disc used to support the segments (we will discuss these shortly). The core of a diamond blade can play a large part in the results you receive from the blade. Some characteristics that affect the blade’s performance include:
The thickness of the core and its hardness contribute to how well it works and the precision with which the blade is made affect the results too. Diamond blade cores are also “tensioned”. A blade that is properly “tensioned” will be flexible to a certain degree – bending slightly under pressure – and snapping back into place when the pressure is removed. This characteristic of a diamond blade’s core allows it to flex with the cutting pressure that comes from proper blade use.
Diamond Blade Segments
In addition to the core of the blade are its segments (although there are continuous rim diamond blades which do not have segments). These segments are another part of the diamond blade’s construction that contribute to its results. Let’s take a look at diamond blade segments and how they are structured.
Diamond segments are composed of to parts. First, the metal bond. Second, the diamonds. Let’s take a high level look at each of these.
The blade’s bond is what hold the diamonds and is composed of metal powders. These various powders are mixed together; producing varying hardness and wear rates. Manufacturers formulate bonds that wear at precisely the proper rate for the type of cutting for which the blade is designed to be used. Coordinating the wear of the bond with the wear and fracturing of the diamonds.
As for the diamonds, they are typically not the naturally produced diamonds found in the earth. Rather, these are synthetic (produced or manufactured) diamonds that can be created with specific characteristics that make them just right for use on particular materials and in particular bonds. Other configurable properties that play a role in the segment design are as follows:
- Diamond Quality
- Quantity of Diamonds
- Diamond Size
All of these factors contribute to the performance of a given blade. As mentioned earlier, a blade’s thickness, hardness, and tension being made with high precision will affect the performance of the blade. So the core and the segments work together to contribute to the blade’s performance. Let’s consider some significant performance factors of diamond blades.
Diamond Blade Performance Factors
When it comes to the factors that contribute to the effectiveness of a diamond blade, we need to consider the dynamics of how the blade’s core and segments work together to produce results. How the segments are fastened or attached to the core will affect the blade’s ability to perform in various scenarios. The main methods for attaching the segments to the core of diamond blades are:
- Vacuum Brazed
- Laser Welded
Each of these attachment methods offers a degree of durability. Yet they are also come at various prices. Depending on what material you are cutting, what horse power your saw is, and whether the environment is wet or dry, your choice of the above attachment methods will vary.
Laser welded segments cost more as a general rule and produce the strongest bond to the core. This strong bond contributes to amount of heat the blade can withstand. Additionally, the strength of the core and its tension (the ability to flex and not lose its shape) also play a large role in performance.
The dynamics involved in the wearing of the diamonds and the matrix (or bond) that holds the diamonds also make for a high performance blade. The bond and the diamonds need to breakdown in a particular manner and at a rate that is complimentary. The better this wear process is coordinated, the better the results will be. Conversely though, if any of the aforementioned components or dynamics is even slightly out of line, the results will not be optimal. In fact, many factors can even cause a blade to break.
How to Prevent Diamond Blade Breakage
As we have considered there are many details that go into what you need to know about diamond blades. One of the important ones from a fabricator’s perspective is how can I prevent breaking blades? As you will see, there are a number of factors, including environmental factors, usage factors, and even operating factors that can contribute to sub-par performance and even breakage.
Cutting stone at a high speed, under intense heat, at various pressures and force is a sensitive process. Right there in that sentence is a clue to preventing blade breakage. So, you should endeavor to use the proper blade in the proper manner with the right equipment. Hence, this affords you the best opportunity for increasing the longevity of the blade. Ultimately, you want the blade to wear out and not break.
One underlying cause of blades breaking involves heat. In fact, if the blade gets too hot from improper use or from friction, it can cause the blade to break or to lose segments. So we have included a list of specific things that can hinder the performance of a diamond blade and which can result in a blade breaking or throwing segments:
- Using dry diamond blades improperly.
- Using wet diamond blades with too little water.
- Machines in need of maintenance.
Each of the above situations can cause blade breakage or segments being thrown. Let’s look at each one and see how it contributes to what you need to know about diamond blades.
Improper Blade Use
Diamond blades must be kept cool while they are being used to cut stone. Some blades are designed to be used dry and others are designed to be used in wet environments. One of the primary differences between these blades is how they are cooled.
In the case of a dry diamond blade, air is used to cool the blade while it cuts. This is achieved by allowing air to circulate around the segments (and even through the blade in some cases). This fact implies a proper use of these kinds of diamond blades.
When using a dry diamond blade, be sure to allow enough air to interact with the blade by keeping your sawing mode shallow. This approach allows air to flow around or through the gaps and holes in the blade. Deep, continuous cutting can create a situation where the blade is damaged due to overheating which affects the core and the segments.
If you are using a wet diamond blade, the danger of heat-related damage can occur if there is insufficient water produced to cool the stone. Therefore, it is important that your environment provides a sufficient amount of water on both side of the blade. Additionally, never use a wet diamond blade without water.
Finally, you can prevent blade breakage by keeping your machines well-maintained and in good working order. Loose nuts, bots or other fasteners can cause the blade to wobble or flutter. Also, worn out shafts and bearings create play in what would otherwise be a straight, smooth line. Anything that can cause the blade to be out of balance can cause even more damage. Be sure to regularly check and service your stone cutting equipment. It will pay off in the long run.
What to Take Away
As you can see, what you need to know about diamond blades involves understanding basic principles and being familiar with how blades work in various situations and environments. Knowing this, prevents fabricators from arbitrarily using diamond blades in ways they were not intended. And from neglecting machinery to the point that it becomes a detriment to the shop’s operation.