Understanding the Value of Diamond Blades
When it comes to building structures that can withstand harsh elements, concrete is the go-to choice for most tradespeople. Concrete is versatile, durable, and cost-effective. It can be easily shaped, colored, and is considered one of the safest building materials in the world.
Concrete construction has been a common practice since the days of the Roman Empire. The strength of the concrete is evident in structures that have stood the test of time, like the Colosseum. However, with tighter schedules and budgets, craftsmen need the best tools to make their jobs easier, more efficient, and safer.
Whether it’s sawing shrinkage joints, cutting decorative paving stones, or making precision cuts in existing concrete, a high-quality saw blade is essential. Diamond saw blades offer distinct advantages over abrasive wheels when it comes to clean and professional cuts in concrete.
The Components of a Diamond Saw Blade
A diamond saw blade typically consists of four components:
Diamond crystals used in saw blades are usually synthetic, allowing manufacturers to control their shape and size. The synthesis process also enables the creation of crystals for specific applications. The cutting performance depends on the type, shape, and size of these synthetic diamond crystals.
The diamond crystals are held in place by a mixture of various metals, which determine the rate at which the diamonds are exposed. Harder binders reduce diamond erosion and are designed for softer applications like raw concrete or asphalt. Softer bonds increase diamond erosion and are better suited for harder materials like granite or cured concrete.
The diamond crystals and bonding matrix are heated, shaped, and attached to the blade core. The edge can be segmented, continuous, or jagged. In each case, the diamond edge is wider than the core of the blade to reduce drag, increase material waste removal, and minimize the chances of the blade binding in the material. These edges are fixed to the steel core through brazing, sintering, or laser welding processes.
The core of the blade is made of heat-treated high-alloy steel. The core is tensioned to ensure the blade turns correctly over the arbor hole, perfectly centered in the core. It is also adjusted to reduce the stresses caused by cutting dense materials. Unlike other blades, diamond blades do not cut through materials but work more like a grinding wheel, utilizing friction between the diamond-bonded substrate and the material being cut.
Types of Diamond Blade Cuts
There are primarily two methods of diamond blade cutting: wet cutting and dry cutting. Heat is a significant factor that affects blade performance, potentially leading to blade loss, core warping, and cracking, necessitating the need for new blades.
To dissipate heat and prolong blade life, most diamond saw blades utilize water during cutting. Water also helps prevent the release of dangerous dust containing silica when cutting concrete, complying with OSHA regulations.
Dry cutting, on the other hand, is less common and is usually reserved for small jobs like cutting paving stones, preferably done outdoors to ensure sufficient airflow around the blade and prevent the steel core from overheating. Dry blades are usually laser welded and have slightly softer binders to facilitate cutting without water for cooling and lubrication.
Segmented Blades vs. Continuous Rim Blades
When considering whether to use segmented blades or continuous rim blades, several variables come into play, including the material being cut, cutting speed, surface quality, and water availability. Segmented blades are commonly used in dry cutting operations, with each segment separated by a slot or slots.
These slots serve important functions like dissipating heat and removing debris, resulting in faster cutting speeds. Continuous rim blades, on the other hand, are wet cutting blades that operate at slower speeds but deliver the cleanest cuts. This is particularly crucial when working with brittle materials or when the cut edges will be exposed. Both types of blades are suitable for cutting concrete, masonry, paving stones, and more.
Using Diamond Blades on Steel
When using diamond blades on concrete, the presence of rebar, which is the backbone of concrete structures, poses a challenge. While a diamond blade can quickly finish the cut, it significantly reduces the blade’s lifespan. Diamond blades abrade the material rather than tear through it like other blades. When cutting concrete with rebar, it is advisable to use a continuous rim blade with a water supply.
Diamond saw blades come in various sizes, ranging from 4 inches for angle grinders to 36 inches for walk saws used on roads or sidewalks. While they may be more expensive than grinding wheels, diamond blades offer a longer lifespan and better cutting performance, making them a more cost-effective choice in the long run.
When considering tools, drills, or blades, it’s crucial to prioritize getting the best quality you can afford. Investing in high-quality equipment ensures better results with less effort, ultimately saving time and money. Diamond saw blades are incredibly effective in reducing work time, even with the toughest materials. With proper use, they prove to be a wise investment that pays off in the long term.
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