A fabrication company will spend thousands of dollars each year on consumable diamond tools. At the same time, there are more and more options to consider that can make this necessary task an unnecessarily confusing one. Faced with all of the choices, selecting the best tool for the job can be difficult. If this is your story, you are not alone.
There are dozens, if not hundreds of different tool brands. Like any other product, there are inexpensive ones that may not last as long and there are the products that are more expensive, but may be of a higher quality and have a longer life. In reference to just about any product, there is an old adage of “you get what you pay for,” and it’s a pretty safe bet that the diamond tool business is no exception.
In today’s economy, the decision to purchase very inexpensive, low-quality tools may seem to be best for a company’s bottom line. However, before jumping to that conclusion, fabricators should review the available information. To understand the differences between high-end tooling and low-priced products, a basic understanding of the manufacturing methods may help.
Without getting into too much detail about the manufacturing process, diamond tools, such as diamond “blades,” don’t cut like knives would, but rather they grind material. And throughout the fabrication process, diamond crystals are exposed on the surface of a blade or other tooling. These crystals do all of the grinding and as a tool wears down, new crystals are exposed. These crystals in the tooling are held by a “matrix” or bond of materials, such as powdered metals.
Several variables influence the longevity of a diamond tool. The factors that are directly related to the tool’s quality itself include the hardness of the matrix, the formulation of the bond, the quality and concentration of diamonds in the bond, the thickness of the tool and the overall quality of the metallurgy. In addition to increasing the life of tooling, improving any of these factors generally increases the cost also.
Outside factors that influence the longevity of a blade are such things as the abrasiveness and hardness of the material being cut, the cutting depth, the horsepower and rpm of the equipment the tooling is being used on and how the operator is handling the machinery.
All of these things should be reviewed when making a decision about what tool is best for a given shop.