Concrete is a super-tough material used to create everything from sidewalks and streets to office buildings and commercial and industrial complexes. When carrying out construction or renovation plans, builders must often cut through this material or its even tougher counterpart, reinforced concrete. On projects large and small, diamond saw blades tipped with industrial diamonds form a standard part of the cutting toolkit. For a couple of reasons, these blades are the optimal choice for the job.
Why Use Diamonds?
When they hear the word diamond, many people think of the high-quality gemstones used in necklaces and other types of jewelry. However, only a small percentage of the stones found in mines throughout the world are suited for this decorative use. Instead, most of the world’s naturally occurring diamonds are lesser-grade products used for industrial purposes. In addition, a number of companies specialize in the manufacture of synthetic stones.
Two characteristics make industrial-grade diamonds a prized commodity. First, whether natural or synthetic, these stones are harder than any other substance on the planet. This means that, when used properly, diamonds can cut through any other type of material. Diamonds also do a fairly good job of dispersing or transferring heat. This means that they can withstand the high temperatures generated by large amounts of friction. Both of these traits make diamonds especially useful for saw blade construction. Most blade manufacturers use synthetic stones, not naturally formed diamonds.
How Diamond Blades Are Made
All diamond-tipped saw blades have a core or hub made from steel. The diamonds themselves are combined with metal powder, then heated at a high enough temperature to form a single cutting matrix. This matrix is then bonded to the core in individual segments, or as a continuous rim. This outer edge is wider than the steel hub, and penetrates through concrete or reinforced concrete during the cutting process.
How Diamond Saw Blades Work
Although they’re the preferred choice for concrete cutting, diamond saw blades do not actually “cut.” Instead, when spinning at operational speed, they get the job done through a grinding action that erodes small particles of material and knocks larger particles loose. This process gradually fractures and breaks down the outer layer of diamonds on the saw blade’s rim or individual segments. When one layer of stone is worn through, it exposes a new layer that takes over the task at hand.
The Right Blade for the Job
Not all diamond-tipped blades are the same. Factors that vary from blade type to blade type include:
- The quality of the diamonds used
- The concentration and distribution of diamonds on the cutting rim or cutting segments
- The toughness or hardness of the bond between the cutting surface(s) and the blade core
- The width of the cutting surface(s)
When cutting through concrete on a worksite, professional operators make sure to choose the right blade for the job. Factors that influence this critical decision include:
- The hardness of the concrete surface or structure
- The abrasiveness of the concrete
- The size of the aggregate (e.g., crushed stone, gravel or sand) used in the concrete mix
- The presence or absence of steel rebar
- The amount of rebar used during construction
The Right Saw for the Job
When matched to the right type of concrete saw, a diamond blade provides unequaled cutting power. Two factors are critical here:
- The saw’s operating horsepower
- The speed at which the saw spins the installed blade
Whenever possible, professional cutters use wet saws to reduce the friction on the saw blade, prolong blade life and keep jobsite dust to a minimum. However, dry cutting also works well as long as the blade is allowed to cool down periodically.