When you need to cut through hard materials such as concrete, metal and stone, a manual cutter won’t be enough. Cutting discs provide the ideal solution, making it easier to create a good quality cut in a wide range of tough materials. Below we explain more about cutting discs, what they can be used on, their thickness and the importance of investing in good quality discs.
What are cutting discs?
Cutting discs are used as part of machines such as angle grinders to cut through hard, thick materials. These flat, thin and round discs look similar in shape to DVDs or compact discs and are able to cut through wood, concrete, stone and variety of metals, such as aluminium and steel. Traditional cutting discs rely on a synthetic resin as a binder, or alternatively you can use a more advanced diamond cutting disc. When used with an angle grinder, cutting discs provide more control and ease of use for the person cutting through the material. A good example is this Bosch Metal Cutting Disc, or the Stone Cutting DCD is also a good alternative.
How do you use cutting discs?
Cutting discs are easily mounted onto an angle grinder, or a stationary cutting device, before being use to slice through thick, hard materials. The discs typically revolves thousands of times per minute, which means it is able to cut quickly and efficiently. This also produces a lot of friction that also leads to high temperatures being formed at the point of cutting. If cut with an unskilled hand, this could lead to the warping, or misshaping of the material. The best way to avoid this is to cut carefully and to take short breaks to avoid the material heating up too quickly.
Cutting discs with synthetic resin.
Traditional cutting discs that use synthetic resin as a binder are the most common types found in the metal industry. The type of disc applied will depend on the material that needs to be cut into. These cutting discs are typically made up of the following features:
- Steel ring
This allows the cutting disc to be safely mounted onto the machine.
- Disc label
All the relevant information about the disc can be found on the label.
- Safety nets
Two fibreglass nets are in place to provide extra levels of safety.
- Cutting mixture
This features a combination of the binder, corundum and other materials.
Diamond cutting discs
Diamond cutting discs are more expensive than traditional cutting discs, but are seen as being extremely efficient at cutting through thicker materials. They are manufactured using diamond grains along the cutting edge, which is the reason they tend to cost more. Diamond cutting discs are typically applied to varieties of concrete, stone and asphalt. However, they are also increasingly being used on a range of metals, plastics and other materials.
Why disc thickness is important for cutting.
In order to get the right type of cut in the material, the thickness of the disc will play a crucial role. The general rule is that the thinner the disc, the faster and more accurate it will be, ensuring less material is used, a lower temperature is achieved and fewer sparks are produced. For many years, 3mm was the standard thickness of cutting discs. This is because it was deemed thick enough to maintain safety requirements and resist lateral straining, while also producing an efficient cut.
Technology has continued to improve over the years, and disc thickness has steadily decreased from 3mm, down to below 1mm. This means there is a greater choice of cutting discs available on the market today, offering buyers a flexibility to achieve the finish they need. Safety has also improved, with two protective safety nets now the norm, although some manufacturers go as far as supplying three.
Handling cutting discs safely.
Cutting discs must always be handled safely and with extreme care at all times. While they are able to cut through extremely thick materials, cutting discs can be broken or damaged by incorrect handling. Before being put to use, always check for any chips or cracks that may have developed on the disc. When they are being used, they spin at a speed of 80m/s, which is only a little slower than a Formula 1 car, giving you a clear idea of how dangerous they can be to the user. Always follow safety procedures and if you are unsure if the disc is in good enough condition, replace it with a new one.
The quality of the disc also plays a key role in the quality of the cut it will produce. Using a cheaply manufactured disc will quickly see the cutting edge worn down and a cut in the material that is less likely to meet the standards you expect. A cheap disc will also create more sparks during cutting and can be difficult to control. There is also a risk of a cheap cutting disc breaking while in use, which can be extremely dangerous to both the user and anyone in the nearby vicinity.