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A diamond blade or diamond grinder differs from an abrasive blade or abrasive grinder in its construction. This may not sound like an important difference, but it can affect both your health and your safety.
An abrasive blade or 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, an abrasive grinder or abrasive blade can threaten your life and your health.
An abrasive blade or abrasive grinder can endanger your life because 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 abrasives. You can view some of these reports here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
An abrasive grinder or abrasive blade can also endanger your health because it 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 (PDF). 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.
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