The Difference Between Diamond Blades and Grinders and Conventional Abrasive Blades and Grinders

A diamond blade or diamond grinder differs from a conventional abrasive blade or conventional abrasive grinder in its construction. This may not sound like an important difference, but it can affect both your health and your safety.

A conventional abrasive blade or conventional abrasive grinder has extremely hard materials like silicon carbide and/or aluminum oxide bonded with resin and mesh into a disc. When spun at high speed, these hard materials wear away the material being worked, producing a ground surface or a cut. This kind of construction has several disadvantages: it wears away quickly, grinds or cuts slowly and produces massive amounts of sparks during grinding or cutting.

More importantly, though, a conventional abrasive grinder or conventional abrasive blade can threaten your life and your health, it can shatter during grinding or cutting and spray you with fragments that can injure or even kill you. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has numerous reports of injuries and deaths caused by shattering conventional abrasive blades and wheels. (You can view some of these reports here, here, herehere, here, here, here, and here)

These types of wheels can also endanger your health because they emits silicon carbide fibers during grinding or cutting. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, silicon carbide can cause a chronic lung disease called pneumoconiosis with long-term exposure, and there’s limited evidence that silicon carbide can cause lung cancer, at least in animals. Additionally, silicon carbide workers have reported increased mortality from asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pneumoconiosis, and lung cancer, according to OSHA.

A diamond blade or diamond grinder, on the other hand, has diamond particles attached to a steel core. Because it’s made of steel, a diamond grinder or diamond blade is generally safer than an abrasive grinder or abrasive blade and won’t shatter or emit silicon carbide fibers during cutting and grinding.

Keep in mind, however, that not all diamond blades are the same! A common kind of diamond blade has diamond cutting segments welded onto a steel core. These welds can soften and break during extended cutting. If they do, the segments can fly off and strike the operator, causing injury or death like an abrasive blade.

For this reason, you’ll want to avoid using a welded diamond blade and use a solid steel diamond blade or diamond grinder. A solid steel diamond grinder or diamond blade might bend during cutting, but it won’t break, increasing your safety. After all, you deserve to go home at the end of the day, instead of the emergency room or the morgue.


Citations

“Accident: 14394480 – Employee Killed When Struck By Flying Part Of Saw Blade.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Accident: 14394480 – Employee Killed When Struck By Flying Part Of Saw Blade.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Accident: 201185766 – Employee’S Arm Is Injured When Abrasive Wheel Fractures.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Accident: 201509692 – Machine Operature Fractures Arm When Struck By Grinder Wheel.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Accident: 201182656 – Employee’S Face Is Injured By Flying Object.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Accident: 202087102 – Employee Is Injured By Abrasive Wheel Fragment.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Accident: 201145810 – Employee Is Injured While Cutting Railing With Angle Grinder.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Chemical Sampling Information: Silicon Carbide (Total Dust).” Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Frequently Asked Questions.” Desert Diamond Industries. Desert Diamond Industries, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

United States. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

“Workplace Safety & Health Topics – Pneumoconioses.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 21 Aug. 2012. Web. 16 Nov. 2012.

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