Horizontal Band Saw - 3: Blades
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WARNING: Machine tools present a safety hazard. Improper operation can result in severe injury. These topics are for non-laboratory study only and are not to be used in conjunction with the operation of any tool or machine described herein. Never use a machine tool without the supervision of a qualified instructor.
Development of high carbon steel strip in the 1920s paved the way for band saws to be used in metal cutting. By selectively flame hardening the toothed edge of the saw, the combination of hard tooth and flexible body could be obtained from the same material. High speed steel strip, available 30 years later, was similarly selectively hardened. This new alternative - a composite material - was not commercially available until the 1960s.

Manufacturers of saw blades are researching areas featuring powder metallurgy, high speed steels, laser welded strip, shot peening (to improve fatigue resistance), and saw blades with exotic metal coatings.

The type of saw blade is determined by the type of material being cut. Generally, the harder the material, the more teeth per inch of saw blade needed. For example a good blade to use while cutting aluminum is one with 4-6 teeth per inch. Mild steel is cut with a saw blade having anywhere from 18-24 teeth per inch of blade.

Very high temperatures are produced at the very tips of cutting tools. Loss of hardness at high temperatures is the main reason for the saw blade wearing out or breaking. Advances in metal cutting tools throughout this century have addressed this problem. From plain carbon steels (hard but no heat or abrasion resistance), to high speed steels (hard & heat-resistant to around 600 degrees C), powder coated high speed steels (more resistant to wear and abrasion), and tungsten carbide (very hard/heat-resistant to around 800 degrees C (very abrasion resistant). Some manufacturers in specialized industries have ceramic and gemstone cutting tools.

Most shops in the old days had two band saws. One for steel and one for aluminum. Each blade having the best tooth configuration for the job. Now days we have what are known as bi-metal blades. This does not mean they are made of differnt metals. It means they with a special tooth configuration they are capable of cutting hard and soft materail (steel and aluminum). Thus the name. R.S.
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