As a masonry professional, you may have a favorite make or model of saw, but oftentimes new innovations and updates can be overlooked in favor of “old reliable.” With a look out for the upcoming silica rule implementation in June, we take a look at some of the recent developments associated with saws.

What The New Silica Rule Means For You

Consequently, a greater number of new innovations are sure to hit the masonry industry in the next few years, focused less on power and more on health and safety. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) latest rule to help limit the exposure to crystalline silica that can be present in material containing sand.

For years companies have been taking steps to reduce negative subjection to silica via dust controlling vacuum or water systems.

This new rule will reduce exposure limits for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air on average over an eight-hour work period. It also necessitates that companies use measurable engineering controls to reduce further exposure. This encompasses supplying respirators when water or ventilation cannot fully confine exposure, to managing employee access to respirable crystalline silica saturated areas, to published exposure control plans, to training for workers on silica risks and tactics to reduce exposure and medical exams for workers at risk. The Mason Contractors Association of America will be providing access to a Train-the-Trainer program, a six-hour program that will train a key employee to train other employees to be a competent person with regard to the written exposure control plan. Please visit the MCAA’s website for more information.

To meet these new standards, saw and blade manufacturers are introducing new technology to address these issues.

Vacuum dust collection systems are increasingly being implemented in masonry cutting work. While they may not completely eradicate silica and dust respiration according to OSHA’s exposure limitations, they do extensive work to reduce their harmful impact. Vacuum dust collection systems can incorporate shrouds or hoods, vacuums, hoses and filters into saw components to counteract this issue.

OSHA recommends using vacuums with enough power to suck up dust at the cutting point. A high-efficiency particle air (HEPA) filter on the vacuum exhaust and a pre-filter or cyclonic separator helps to boost the vacuum’s ability. A 1.5-inch to two-inch diameter vacuum exhaust hose or a hose size approved by the saw manufacturer is recommended to decrease on-site pollution and respiration.

iQ Power Tools

iQ Power Tools has focused its attention on building tools that have a fully integrated vacuum system, filter system, and dust containment. Founded by Joel Guth, who gave us a history on the innovation of saws in the industry, the company is committed to helping contractors tackle the silica rule head-on. Its current offerings include the iQ360x and iQPC912®.

The iQ360x™ is capable of collecting 99.5% of the silica dust created by cutting and can even be used indoors. It features a 14” masonry saw for brick stone and pavers, is made of high-impact materials, and features a fully integrated dust collection system. Additionally, it’s both compact and lightweight which makes it easy to transport.

The iQPC912®, as pictured on Masonry’s cover, features a 12” premium diamond blace, 93cc, 6-HP, two-stroke engine, ergonomic design, and a retractable cutting skate for precise cutting. It is a fully integrated system that features the QuikSpin™ filter which eliminates dust cleanup, slurry, and issues created with wet cutting.

Husqvarna

Husqvarna is one such company who has recently introduced Diagrip technology to their blades that combine three-dimensional coarse diamonds with a fresh segment design. This is aimed to reduce vibrations, even at higher speeds, and to provide smooth and stable operation. The diamonds are treated as to be distributed in their formation on the segment, exposing them constantly which prompts a more smooth yet powerful operation, particularly when going through steel rebar. The segments also have bigger diamonds which enhances efficiency and allows  for speedier operation in comparison to traditional segments. The diamonds are designed to stay in place longer, so the tool thoroughly punctures materials, even heavily reinforced concrete, while fragments and pieces are quickly displaced from the saw, reducing overall wear and tear.

Husqvarna has also launched a new air filtration system that utilizes three filters to separate cutting dust and capture it in a safe way. The first, active filter relies on the centrifugal force of the saw’s flywheel to divide 80 to 90 percent of the cutting dust from the air, while a second, sticky filter captures residual dust. Finally, a third, paper filter grabs tiny particles creating cleaner air.

The company’s K 3000 Vac electric power cutter allows for cleaner, reduced dust, dry cutting without the use of water. The saw’s vacuum unit maintains optimal silica and dust storage. With a forward rotating blade, the saw glides through material with ease, greatly reducing pressure on the operator. An amply proportioned miter gear manages stamina and strength and lessens noise. A speedy connection plate prompts effortless switching between conventional and vacuum facilitated cutting. The K 3000 Vac’s Elgard technology also helps to prevent potential overloads.

Hilti

Hilti also offers a number of cutting edge diamond saw blades. The Equidist technology cured concrete cutting blades are known for speed and longevity, designed to cut fast in even the most extreme elements with a wide application that reduces portfolio in different wide and arbor types to fit a variety of saws. Their Equidist design accurately spaces diamonds at different intervals to establish high level cutting abilities over the life of the blade along with standardized use across saws and on materials. Hilti’s ultra early entry diamond blades have three times as many diamonds as traditional blades for speedier cutting, while the blades are tensioned to reduce vibrations and allow for easy operation. The blades’ taller segments contribute to longevity and prevent extensive time spent changing them.

The manufacturer’s Super Premium and Universal Premium Diamond Blades can all be used on a multitude of base materials. The Super Premium blades provide outstanding performance in cutting natural stone, brick, and concrete, promising 50 percent faster cutting rate and 50 percent long life than other comparable blades on the market. While the Universal Premium Diamond blades provide incredible bang for buck in cutting through asphalt, masonry and concrete with versatile performance and optimally balanced acceleration.

Affinity Tool Works

Contractors may be delighted with Affinity Tool Works Dtec product range of diamond blades. These blades couple segmented design with heavy-duty construction providing the quality and pace of more expensive, high quality diamond blades at a more economical price. The blades multiple, tactically placed 10-millimeter high segments have the benefit of longer blade life than traditional seven-millimeter segmented blades. The enlarged segment area uncovers more of the cutting service to increase the life of the blade and in turn saves on the cost of replacement down the road. The segments offer a fragment in the blade’s rim which impedes heat transfer and permits the blade to run at a cooler temperature through both wet and dry implementation.

Wet Saws

Others are advocating for greater use of wet saws to eliminate dust. A wet saw’s pump provides a constant stream of water to the blade and tile surface. This provides a greater benefits over traditional saw cutters in is snag free cuts and clean air solutions, especially when cutting through stone which easily breaks apart in the cutting movement. Silica and dust particles are ingested into the water and stored in the saw’s holding tray, keeping them out of the breathable workplace. A wet saw table also works to decrease stress on materials and increase their support, thus reducing further breakage and dust.

A wet saw’s pump provides a constant stream of water to the blade and surface. This provides a greater benefits over traditional saw cutters in is snag free cuts and clean air solutions, especially when cutting through stone which easily breaks apart in the cutting movement. Silica and dust particles are ingested into the water and stored in the saw’s holding tray, keeping them out of the breathable workplace. A wet saw table also works to decrease stress on materials and increase their support, thus reducing further breakage and dust.

Current research within the industry leans towards wet cutting as being advantageous in the reduction of harmful silica and dust particles.

Conclusion

No matter what type of masonry work you do or what your equipment needs are, knowledge of current manufacturer innovations and products can save you time and money in contracts and projects. Keeping your blades up to date in your saws helps to extend the life of your saws and keeps your machines running easily, reduces stress and friction on materials and manages chips and breakage.

Educating yourself and your company on OSHA’s new standards for respirable crystalline silica inhalation ensures that you’re aware of risks and needs for equipment updates and inclusions to reduce exposure on your construction sites. Proper education can also guide your future equipment purchases and inclusions on saw vacuum dust collection systems and wet cutting saws and methods. Incorporation of these innovations into your masonry work can vastly improve health and safety standards and safeguard the future of your business.

Words: Masonry Magazine
Photos: Paul Guth and Sarah Hurtado