purchasing and using steel for projects

Diamond And Carbide: Which Is Right For Your Project?

Cutting metal and other materials requires the right tools and cutting tips, yet there is no one winner that can be used for every material and in every project. Two of the more common cutting tip materials are diamond and carbide, and there are some noticeable differences between the two. One of these differences can adversely affect your project to the point where the tool and the material being cut could show damage.

Ferrous Material

If what you're cutting is made with iron or steel, a diamond tip won't work well. The diamond material actually reacts with the ferrous material to form iron carbide. While diamond is a very tough material, this is one of the few chemical reactions that can really ruin diamond. You are better off using a carbide tool for this type of material. There are new coatings that are considered diamond-like, and these may prevent a reaction, but if you really want to be sure, just use carbide.

Cost Effectiveness and Frequency of Use

For non-ferrous materials, which can be cut with both diamond and carbide, cost and frequency come into play. Diamond is definitely more expensive than carbide but can last longer; for people in a high-output situation who can spare the money, diamond may be better, but for a home hobbyist or a company that uses cutting tools with less frequency, carbide would be better.

You have to use the diamond a lot to make up for the cost. If you use a carbide tool a lot, then the tool will wear out quickly, and you'll spend more money on a new tip. If you're using a tool infrequently, however, there's no sense in springing for diamond because you will likely not use the tool enough to justify the cost.

Rough Conditions

Oddly enough, despite carbide being better for infrequent use, it's also better for frequent use in rough environments. If you think you will have to dispose of the cutting tip or even the tool after you're done cutting a rather tough item, carbide, with its cheaper price point, is a lot better to use. You wouldn't want to toss diamond for a long time because of the cost.

Contact suppliers, such as Olson Carbide, and tell them about your project, what material you're cutting, and how often you'll need to use the tool. They may be able to make custom tips and inserts for you that will help move your project along more quickly.