Steven Depolo

Diamonds in the Construction Industry

          There’s a difference between a normal consumer saw and an industry diamond blade.  Many projects require a cutting blade that can handle thick aggregate that a normal saw can’t cut through. Concrete platforms are thick. And so is asphalt, masonry, stone, and rebar. So what are used is a  high-quality diamond blade that can cut through the thick and tough material on buildings, bridges, and so on. But what makes a diamond blade a diamond blade?

Diamonds are placed on a saw, usually a circular saw, to cut thick aggregate. Metal matrices are placed on the circular saw, followed by a bond tail, and then the diamond itself. People may wonder if real diamonds are actually used to cut and grind against concrete and steel. The answer is both yes and no.

One of the hardest materials known to man is diamond. Only a diamond can cut other diamonds. When selecting a stone, it wouldn’t make total sense to use the fine gemstones sold in jewelry stores, so synthetic diamonds are used. These are genuine, solid crystals that can withstand high temperatures, making them ideal for uses in construction.

Commercials, music videos, and advertisements often present us with images of expensive jewelry set with diamonds. Rings, pendants, and watches come to mind. These are the diamonds that most people are familiar with– the bright and flawless gemstones for flash and show. Many popular cuts are oval, emerald, heart, marquise, pear, princess, and round, with the most common being the latter two. These two shapes reflect more light internally to showcase its brightness. Stones are also ranked by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). These range from I1-I3, SI-SI2 (small inclusions), VS1-VS2 (very small inclusions), VVS1-VVS2 (very, very, small inclusions), to Flawless. Flawless grades have no inclusions, blemishes, air bubbles, or scratches. These stones are coveted for their rarity and perfection.

To meet the needs of an effective, practical, cost-efficient cutting tool in construction, synthetic diamonds are used.  In a laboratory, synthetic diamonds are created artificially using genuine diamond material. While these dark, tinted, or blemished stones aren’t for show, they have value in construction because of its hardness.

Synthetic diamonds can be ranked from low, medium, and high-quality. Low-quality synthetic diamonds are weaker, have a shorter life span, lower thermal stability, break faster, and are not able to handle hard materials and steel well. Medium-quality synthetic diamonds have good cutting speeds for sawing hard materials and steel. High-quality synthetics withstand high temperatures against hard aggregates, like steel, and last longer.

Practicality and cost-effectiveness are why synthetics are so sought-out. Putting flawless diamonds on a diamond blade wouldn’t make it a more effective cutting tool than a synthetic diamond blade would. They would yield the same results. Perhaps that would explain why demand for synthetic diamonds is always high– year in, year out.

Photo credit: Steven Depolo via photopin cc

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Posted in: specialty diamond tools

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