The Cutting Edge
Diamond blades are making life easier for the masonry industry
By Brett Martin
All-purpose diamond blades are designed to cut almost anything, so masonry contractors don't have to waste time changing blades or risk damaging them if they cut the wrong materials. Once these blades are in the saws, contractors never have to worry about matching the blade to the material again.
"Sometimes, when a mason starts to cut, the blade is too hard for the material he has," says John Siva, director of research and development for Olathe, Kan.-based Husqvarna Construction Products North America. "We give them a blade that can almost guarantee they will be able to cut a range of masonry materials."
Other diamond blades offer increased performance at higher speeds, faster cuts, and longer blade life.
One Blade, Many MaterialsA one-size-fits-all approach to diamond blades is becoming more commonplace and more practical, since the blades are able to cut almost anything masonry contractors encounter on the jobsite.
Dan Steiner, president of DITEQ Diamond Tools and Equipment in Lee's Summit, Mo., calls his ARIX C44 blade "the Swiss Army knife of diamond blades" because of its ability to cut most materials.
"This is one blade that can do everything," he says. "All you need now is one blade. It allows you to cut a variety of products. It's a do-all blade that will cut a ton of stuff."
The blade uses the company's ARIX technology, which precisely arranges diamonds throughout each segment for maximum performance. Steiner says ARIX blades cut 50 percent faster and last 30 percent longer.
"Some customers are getting twice the life out of the [C44] blades," he says. "Guys are seeing the results and see it's making them a lot of money."
C44 blades offer undercut protection, so they can quickly cut brick, block, pavers, and other materials during the entire life of the blade.
"We put undercut protection that protects the core from premature undercutting," Steiner explains.
Husqvarna's MI5 and MI8 diamond blades also cut a range of materials.
"The blades work great on hard, abrasive materials," Siva says. "You can cut a broad range of applications."
Better Performance at Higher SpeedsTypically, when blades operate at high RPMs, the blade slightly elongates, affecting the cut, Siva says. Husqvarna eliminated the "tension problem" on its MI5 and MI8 blades, offering accuracy at increased speeds.
"At a higher RPM, the centrifugal force causes the blade to increase in diameter by a fraction of a hair. When that happens, the blade starts to wobble," he explains. "As soon as you hit the material, you see the blade go left. It walks all over. We call that a tension problem."
A wobbly blade makes a wider cut and can be dangerous to the saw operator, Siva says. "The wobbling can be so bad that I've seen the blade hit the blade guard. It can be especially bad with a dry blade."
Zenesis blades from Diamond Vantage Inc. in Grandview, Mo., utilize new technology to offer faster cut speeds, says Jeff Shermo, regional sales manager. The blades also offer longer life spans.
Standard blades have randomly placed diamonds, so some segments end up with lots of diamonds, while others have hardly any, Shermo says. That blade manufacturing process is like mixing chocolate chip cookies: Some cookies have more chips than others. Diamond Vantage's "diamond patterned technology" eliminates that randomness by placing each diamond in a specific location for optimum performance, ensuring that the diamonds are fully used before falling out of the segment.
"You have a better placement of the diamond in the blade. It allows for a lot faster cutting and better performance," Shermo says. "This pattern technology is the future of diamond blades."
Cooler Blade for Aggressive CutsManufacturers are also designing diamond blades that offer more aggressive cuts, allowing masonry contractors to cut a range of materials quickly. The Blizzard, a high-speed blade from Diamond Vantage, cuts faster than traditional blades, and it runs up to 30 percent cooler for efficiently cutting hard materials, including brick and pavers, Shermo says.
A notched segment gives the blade a quicker bite into the cut, which increases the cutting speed, he says. Strategically placed slots in the blade core cause heat to wick away, lowering the cutting temperature.
"The notched segment makes it cut more aggressively," Shermo says. "The notches keep the blade cooler when cutting hard material."
By having a cooler, faster cutting blade, the saw operator won't try to compensate for a slower cut by pushing harder on the saw, which isn't good for the blade, he says.
New blades hit the market throughout 2009. This year, DITEQ unveiled a fast-cutting masonry blade that's on par with premium blades, but it'll be offered at a mid-range price.
"They'll get a really good blade that's at a less expensive price than a premium blade," Steiner says.
About the Author
Brett Martin is a freelance writer located in Shakopee, Minn. with several years of construction and writing experience.