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   Cutting decisions should reflect a manu- facturer’s production goals. “This holds true for big production shops or mom- and-pop operations,” says Jay Gordon, North American sales manager for saws and hand tools at L.S. Starrett. “Is a man- ufacturer looking for production speed— getting pieces cut as quickly as possible or for the best blade life, or for a blade with the best all-around capabilities? All of these decisions affect production rates.”
ations within the past 10-15 years. This development demands even closer attention to the material during blade selection, and has prompted saw man- ufacturers to develop blades that tackle these challenges.
“Due to this influx, sawing, turning and otherwise working these materials challenge tool builders and part man- ufacturers,” Gordon says. “They must better understand what they are cut- ting, as do we as saw and saw-blade providers.”
Tie Selection to Production Goals
Upon addressing the work material, cutting decisions should reflect the production goal.
“This holds true for big production shops or mom-and-pop operations,” Gordon explains. “Is a manufacturer looking for production speed—getting pieces cut as quickly as possible or for the best blade life, or for a blade with the best all-around capabilities? All of
these decisions affect production rates.”
The range of work required also plays into blade selection, according to Schimel.
“The small tool and die shops or smaller fabrication job shops with mixed products typically cut a wide range of materials,” he says, “everything from structural materials to sheet met- als to solids, and from soft to hard. Multipurpose blades may make the most sense not perfect for any one application—but good for all of them.”
Again, the increased variety of mate- rials has produced an increased selec- tion of blades, including more models for aggressive cutting. But aggressive cutting comes at a cost.
“More aggressive cutting places more demands on the sawing machine, and also challenges users to control material feed rates and blade speeds,” Gordon says. “Less-aggressive cutting, say with a 0-deg. rake angle, offers control for general-purpose applications across a relatively wide range of materials.”
Bottom line: Blade selection includes trade-offs, so make sure that selection aligns with production goals.
Longer-Life Blades Developed
The material and workpiece size profoundly affect blade life. No matter the production volumes, changing out worn blades is no one’s idea of pro- ductive work. Blade manufacturers have worked on designs and products to minimize those occurrences, and to ensure quality cutting over time, according to Gordon.
Bimetal blades offer an option for longer life and for use in a variety of
Bimetal saw blades, with steel wire added to backing material, offer a means to extend blade life. Here’s a depiction of a bimetal blade in action, with a patent- ed process enabling backing material to wear away upon first cut to expose extra cutting edges on the blade teeth.
cutting applications, with steel backing providing blade rigidity. One example of a more recent bimetal-blade devel- opment offered by Gordon: Starrett’s Bi-Metal Unique blades. This technol- ogy joins two strips of high-speed steel wire to the backing steel using solid- state diffusion bonding as opposed to conventional construction employing electron beam or laser welding to join the wire. Here, the wires essentially are fitted into grooves within the backing material. A larger weld-contact area— 170 percent more than with conven- tional methods—reduces fracture at the steel-wire/backing-material inter- face, according to Starrett officials. Upon initial use, the backing material wears away, altering the blade area engaged in the cut to provide double the number of cutting edges. The result: rapid cuts, eased chip removal and reduced tooth stripping, as well as the ability to allow more coolant to flow into the cutting area.
Options for Automated Cutting
For sawing, automation takes on a couple of meanings. Rare are the fully autonomous setups that include robot- fed saws with automated loading and unloading, according to Gordon.
Some saws also enable users to plug in the type and size of material, with the saws automatically adjusting speeds and other parameters for opti- mal production. Less all-in saw- automation features include automatic shuttling of material for cutting in incremental lengths along a larger stock piece, and automatic cutting of a set number of pieces entered by the operator. MF
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Fabrication: Sawing

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