Are PCD Blades Right for Your Shop?

Regardless of whether you’re a small to medium sized cabinet shop or a large production facility, if you haven’t considered PCD (polycrystalline diamond) saw blades perhaps now is the time!  Materials such as particle board, MDF, laminates and solid surface are all excellent candidates for diamond saw blades. When comparing Diamond v. Carbide, depending on the machine and the material application, diamond saw blades can outperform carbide by a ratio of 30-50 times!  

PCD Main Blade

PCD Main Blade

Over the years, diamond saw blade production has improved tremendously and as an industry, we’ve seen steady prices reductions.  With the multitude of suppliers now offering PCD tooling it’s important for you, the buyer, to do the proper vetting of the individual supplier.  There are many factors to consider when looking at the price of a diamond blade, including the plate and diamond quality, the amount of diamond used, and the cost to service the tool.

Here is an example use case from one of our customers:

A cabinet manufacturer located in Florida and utilizing a Holzma Model 430 beam saw found they were changing their carbide main and scoring blades on a daily basis! At the beginning of 2016, they invested in a 450 mm PCD main and 180 mm PCD scoring saw. The diamond saw blades were put into production on January 4th and were removed from production for sharpening on April 7th, 69 production days! Needless to say, a second diamond set was ordered.

From replacing carbide saw blades on a daily basis to running 69 production days on one diamond set! Considering the cost of a diamond set can be 10 – 12 times the price of a carbide set it leaves little doubt that in this case, the initial cost factor is far outweighed by the extended tool life most certainly justifying the investment. In addition, this doesn’t take into consideration the cost of having to maintain the huge number of carbide sets needed for rotation purposes or the machine downtime savings created. When deciding whether to switch, be conservative in your cost analysis and base your justification on the diamond tool lasting 25x longer than carbide.  You won’t be disappointed! 

GDP GUHDO Scoring Blade

GDP GUHDO Scoring Blade

GDP GUHDO has been a trusted supplier and servicer of PCD tooling for over 30 years.  If you are considering investing in technology, like diamond saw blades, we’re here to help analyze if PCD tooling is right for your requirements. In addition, we can help select the optimum tool to meet your production goals.  For additional information, including a cost comparison, please contact our team.

Getting Deep on Diamond Tooling

Diamond is known as a material with impressive characteristics. Even the name, Diamond, which stems from the ancient Greek word  “αδάμας” – “adámas,” translates to unbreakable. In particular diamond is the hardest mineral known and also has the highest thermal conductivity. These two traits, in addition to its abrasion-resistance,  make Diamond quite a popular material in the industrial tooling area. To illustrate the level to which diamond tools surpass carbide tools in regard to hardness, one only has to compare each materials value on the Knoop hardness scale. While synthetic diamond generally rates between 5000 to 7000, the average hardness for a carbide tool only has a value of about 1700 to 2400.

Hardness Scale

Hardness Scale

Polycrystalline Diamond tools are an established, well accepted solution for high volume production and they are now cost effective as well. They have long proven to be an investment in quality AND productivity as they can provide substantial savings in tooling costs.

Diamond Router Bit

Diamond Router Bit

Based on case histories, polycrystalline diamond tools can outlast a carbide tool by a ratio of roughly 300:1. However, this takes into account a wide range of materials machined.   So, while one machinist may achieve a ratio of 50-fold life span for a diamond tool cutting very abrasive material, another may outrun his previously used carbide tool by 800 times on a solid wood application.

A sampling of styles available to machine a wide range of materials such as MDF, particle board, solid surface material, phenolic etc.

A sampling of styles available to machine a wide range of materials such as MDF, particle board, solid surface material, phenolic etc.

Today, diamond tools have earned their position in most every woodworking, composite, plastic and solid surface cutting application.  From routing and edge-banding, profiling, sawing, jointing and grooving to slotting and hogging; diamond tools are used in almost all cutting tool applications.

Today’s modern manufacturing facilities  are running expensive CNC machining centers with constant demand for higher output and lower unit costs being paramount.  Most CNC machinists have recognized the value of diamond cutting tools. Elimination of downtime alone can result in a significant reduction in tooling costs, not even taking reduced sharpening costs, stocking needs and lost production into consideration.

Although diamond tools may not be the solution to every tooling issue, they should not be excluded from consideration without a thorough analysis of the potential advantages. With today’s ever-increasing demand for higher efficiency and lower costs, the toughest material may just solve the toughest tooling problems!

HSK 63 F Tool Holders for CNC Machines

HSK 63 F Tool Holders for CNC Machines

Diamond vs. Carbide Tooling Cost Comparison

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Diamond Router Bits

It is well-known that Polycrystalline Diamond (PCD) tooling delivers high performances in cutting applications while also significantly while reducing a company’s overall tooling costs.  Under the right conditions and with the proper maintenance, great cost savings can be achieved. The first tool life can yield savings of up to 30 -50% in comparison to carbide tools or inserts. And subsequent sharpenings will further increase the savings when compared to a carbide tool or insert.

Solid Carbide Compression Router Bit in HSK 63 F Tool Holder

Solid Carbide Compression Router Bit in HSK 63 F Tool Holder

To illustrate the cost savings we have created the example cost comparison below:

The Formula: 

Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 12.12.26 PM

The Data:

Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 12.12.01 PM
The Example Cost Comparison (per Linear Foot Machined):

Screen shot 2012-12-04 at 1.03.12 PM

The calculation quite accurately illustrates, that although at first look Diamond tools seem to be a costly investment, it is an investment that pays off rather quickly and costs only a fifth of what equivalent Carbide tools would cost.

It may not be necessary to buy Diamond Tools for everyone and every company, but especially those who need their tools to last as long as possible and would like to get as much use out of them as possible, will find that investing in diamond tools is more than cost-effective.  The best applications for diamond tools are those machining  abrasive materials and doing high volume of the same cut. We are now offering select tooling online.

Determining When to Sharpen PCD Tooling

PCD Diamond Router Bit

PCD Diamond Router Bit

In order to maximize your run-time with PCD and carbide tooling it’s essential to get saw blades, router bits, drill bits and other cutting items maintained at appropriate intervals before the PCD/carbide wears to the point of failure.  By removing the tool from the machine for sharpening before the cutting edge is completely dull or even lost, the durability of the tool will be improved and it will require less material to be removed to recover the cutting edge.

PCD Hogger

PCD Hogger

Three simple steps can help improve the longevity of tools as they allow to establish the ideal resharpening time.

  • Step 1.  – Take two like new tools and run them until they are dull monitoring the amount of material cut. The point of removal will be when the cut finish on the material (wood, metal, plastic, etc.) is no longer acceptable.
  • Step 2. – Compare the total number of linear feet cut or the amount of material (number of sheets) that was cut with each tool.
  • Step 3. – Take the number acquired in step 2 and subtract 15% to 20% from the average.

Use this number as a guide for when tools should be sent in for maintenance.

Example: 175 table top cuts minus 20% equals 140 table tops, therefore the tool should be sharpened at around 140 table top cuts. 

GUHDO Tooling

GUHDO Tooling

 

Here are some tips for getting the maximize sharpening and increase the longevity of tools:

  • Materials should be consistent quality and type
  • Cut types should be fairly similar
  • Engraving cutting tools with a number will make tracking and incorporating tool information in spreadsheets easier

We would be happy to give you a quote on your PCD or carbide sharpening needs and we have a full service facility on-site for quick turnaround.