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Diamond wire cutting (DWC) is the process of using wire of various diameters and lengths, impregnated with diamond dust of various sizes to cut through materials. Because of the hardness of diamonds, this cutting technique can cut through almost any material that is softer than the diamond abrasive. DWC is also practical and less expensive than some other cutting techniques, for example, thin diamond wire only costs around 10-20 cents per foot ($0.7/m) in 2005 for 140 to 500 micrometre diameter wire, to manufacture and sells around $1.25 a foot ($4.10/m) or more, compared to solid diamond impregnated blade cutters costing thousands of dollars. Thus a 1,000 foot (300 m) spool of diamond wire costs around $200 to manufacture and sells for around $1,250. Selling cost may vary because of wire grade and demand. Other diamond wire cutting can use shaped diamond rings threaded through cables. These larger cables are used to cut concrete and other large projects.

Advantages

DWC produces less kerf and wasted materials compared to solid blades (slurry wire may be similar). On very expensive materials, this could save hundreds or thousands of dollars of waste. Unlike slurry saws that use bare wire and contain the cutting material in the cutting fluid, DWC uses only water or some fluid to lubricate, cool the cut, and remove debris. On some materials DWC may not need water or cutting fluid, thus leaving a clean dry cut.

Disadvantages

Using diamond wire for cutting does have the problem of being less robust (snapping when fatigued, bent, jammed or tangling) than solid cutting blades and possible more dangerous because when the wire breaks and whips, it can cause injury as in the 2007 lawsuit case of a man’s arm being tangled and cut. Because of the unique nature of DWC, most saws are expensive and are tailor made to handle Diamond Wire. Commercial saws that utilize solid blades can be augmentented with diamond dust blades and thus may be more economical to operate in some areas. Another problem is when the diamond wire breaks in say, the middle of a 3,000 ft (1,000 m) reel leaving two 1,500 ft (500 m) reels of wire, thus requiring up to twice the saw direction change cycles to do the same cut and wearing out the wire saw and remaining diamond wire quicker. If the diamond wire breaks more towards an end, these shorter pieces (500 feet or less) of wire are practically unusable and are commonly disposed of due to the hundreds of feet required to thread the saw, leaving little wire to use for process cutting. Because the diamond abrasive is mechanically attached to the wire, the wire loses cutting effectiveness after a few cuts because most of the abrasive is worn off the wire. This means that the last cut may take much longer than the first cut making production timing less predictable. From experience, Diamond Wire lasts around six cuts then either breaks in several places or is functionally worn out. This longevity greatly depends on the material cut and the number of slices per cut. Quality control of smaller diameter diamond wire is also greatly affects wire life and getting a bad batch is not unknown.

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