MIXED MATERIAL CUTTING CHALLENGE: ROADBLOCK OR OPPORTUNITY?

Posted by Wednesday, August 8th, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

In the process of remodeling my living room, I ran into an issue where I needed to cut through metal, brick and wood, all at the same time. At the joint where the back wall of the room met up against the fireplace, there was a 2×4 joined to brick with metal straps & screws. The screw heads were so corroded that it wasn’t possible to back them out to remove the board.  The only viable option was to find a way to cut through all three of these materials with the same cut.

It just so happens that I work for Abrasive Technology, a worldwide leader in a variety of superabrasive grinding and cutting products.  That said, we didn’t already have a product to tackle this multi-material,DIY job.  This challenge got my wheels turning.  I decided to talk with a couple of my fellow engineers at work about my idea to make something that could cut all of this stuff at once… the name “Jack of ALL Blades” immediately came to mind.

We discussed the required attributes of a diamond blade capable of cutting a wide variety of materials and settled on testing:

    • a relatively large grit abrasive
    • with a high level of fracture resistance
    • applying our P.B.S. brazing process

The key in this multi-material environment is using a low bond and low concentration of abrasive, while still having enough strength to prevent the abrasive from pulling out in use.  We also used a few other tricks-of-the-trade to increase the toughness of the bond to help maximize life, without reducing the aggressiveness needed to cut the softer materials like wood.

We took our initial ideas, made a couple of test blades, and then did some empirical testing on a variety of materials.  We had success cutting the following:

    • wood
    • concrete
    • brick
    • cinder block
    • nails / screws (in wood)
    • sheet metal (school bus)
    • automotive glass
    • rebar
    • aggregate filled cast fiberglass tubing

Here is the logo I created and a few quick photos I took of the Jack of All Blades.

joab_blog_picture

While it is pretty cool and interesting that we were able to make a working, useful product for this mixed-material cutting challenge, in a very short amount of time (from idea to end product in just days), the point of sharing this information is not really to focus on the end product. The point is that the culture of Abrasive Technology allowed us the freedom to take an idea (one that originated completely outside the context of work) and spend a little bit of time, resources and effort to see what we could come up with.

As one of the founders of our company has stated, “I wanted to create the kind of organization I wanted to work in. The kind of place that doesn’t get in the way of good ideas.”

Creating the Jack of All Blades for home use, got us thinking about what other markets could benefit from this mixed material cutting solution.  Because my brother is a local firefighter, we think this is a perfect tool for rescue crews.  Subscribe in the box on the right to be alerted about the next article I am writing, where I will put the Jack of All Blades to work in a simulated rescue environment!

If you’d like our experts to tackle your grinding and tooling challenges, with an innovative, custom grinding or tooling solution… Ask an Engineer Now!

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