The Next Generation of Diamond Chain
By Todd Gerlach
Since its introduction in the early 1990’s, the diamond chain category has evolved over the span of nearly three decades. In the early years, diamond chains were modeled after the basic architecture of woodcutting saw chain and typically suffered from excessive chain stretch and limited diamond life. As the years progressed, so did the technology and design. Through advancements in materials, component features and manufacturing processes, modern diamond chain as we know it today is more durable, performs better, stretches less and lasts longer than ever before.
Although performance and cutting efficiency have improved steadily over time, one fundamental characteristic has remained. Sawing with a diamond chain power cutter typically requires significant physical effort by the operator to cut effectively. This can lead to operator fatigue and loss of productivity, which has generally confined this cutting method to a relatively narrow set of applications. As the concrete sawing and drilling market continues to expand, safety and ergonomic requirements become more stringent and new applications emerge that require use of a power cutter with diamond chain, it is becoming increasingly important that the issue of operator effort and fatigue is addressed.
With focus on safety and productivity, a new generation of diamond chain has entered the market. The basis of this innovative design is no longer traced back to the origins of the woodcutting saw chain; rather it is an all-new chassis architecture that is specifically engineered to better support and stabilize the diamonds in the cut. This enhanced, more rigid interface between the diamond segments and work piece serves to extend the life of the diamonds by significantly reducing vibration and impact loads in the cut, thereby minimizing diamond fractures and pullouts. The result is a far softer, freer cutting segment formulation that does not sacrifice diamond life.
So, what does this mean to the operator on the jobsite? A revolutionary diamond chain that requires less feed load and cuts smoother and straighter. In typical diamond chain cutting applications, an operator’s effort is consumed by several different modes. First is most obvious, the feed load the operator applies directly to the power cutter to engage the chain in the workpiece. The second and perhaps less obvious mode is cutting vibration. This high frequency response from the chain is transmitted through the handles of the power cutter and into the operator’s hands and arms, causing strain in the muscles. These vibrations exist in most hand-held cutting equipment and tend to increase operator fatigue throughout a typical workday. The third and last mode is the force the operator imparts on the power cutter to balance and track the chain in the cut to achieve a straight result. This force can generate uneven wear patterns on the chain and guidebar, leading to further cut-straightness issues, thus limiting the life of the cutting system.
This next generation diamond chain specifically addresses each of these modes that contribute to operator fatigue. The new chain cuts more efficiently with less feed load and is far smoother than any conventional diamond chain. With added stability in the cut, the chain also maintains symmetric wear patterns allowing for straighter cuts through life with less guidebar rail wear. These benefits are expected to change our industry work practices and rewrite the perceptions related to diamond chain cutting for the future. Whether it’s driving a culture of safety throughout your organization, overcoming the daily issues on the jobsite or increasing the productivity of your resources, our industry is evolving and innovating to help you get your job done right.
Todd Gerlach serves as Director of Engineering for ICS, Blount International.