An element that should not be missing in masonry work or the placement of coatings is one of the many ceramic cutting machines or tiles, whose first manual model appeared on the market more than 60 years ago.
The basic principle of this first machine was to draw a line on the decorative mosaic of the time with the use of a iron punch or later a tungsten carbide scoring wheel, and separate the weakest part by means of a blow, just as craftsmen or DIYers today cut glass or tiles. Shortly after, instead of using force, the machine incorporated a separator capable of splitting the piece without operator intervention.
Over the years, the techniques were perfected to the point of originating two large groups of ceramic cutting machines: at manual machines and b) the electric machines. The machines manuals do not have a motor, their design and operation is very similar to that of primitive machines -but with state-of-the-art technology- and they still use punches Y scoring wheels. On the other hand, electric machines use a diamond disc driven by a motor and incorporate the possibility of carrying out straight and angled cuts with great precision and great quality due to the water cooling, so that they are no longer considered only ceramic cutters, but also miter saws.
Manual ceramic cutting machines
There are several models of manual machines to carry out the ceramic cutting, their function and work system is common and basic, but they have different characteristics, such as the cutting length or the maximum cutting capacity.
Some of the models also have an ergonomic handle design to facilitate the work of users, as well as accessories or functions that increase cutting efficiency. Among these functions we can mention the mobile separator for diagonal cuts, the interchangeable scoring wheels for different types of materials and the guides, which are usually made of excellent quality chromed steel with anti-corrosion treatment.
For the moment we will concentrate on the second group of machines who use a diamond blade as cutting tool.
Types of electric machines for cutting ceramics
Today the market offers basic types of electric ceramic cutting machines, which are distinguished by the principle of operation and which are selected based on the type of work to be carried out.
portable cutting machines: they are the cheapest and are offered in small plastic or metal cases; motor and blade are located below the cutting surface and the piece slides manually towards the disc.
Sliding carriage cutting machines: in this case, the part is placed on a conveyor carriage that moves it below the motor and cutting disc, which are in a fixed location.
Cutting machines with guide rails or console: also called sliding head mowers, consist of a fixed platform where the piece sits; the motor and blade ride on rails or a raised bar and pass over the workpiece to make the cut.
These are the ones that offer vast features and cutting qualities, so we are going to dwell in more detail on their characteristics.
Electric cutting machines with guide rails or console
The slicers with guide rails or console can be supplied in models to mount on a bench or, more often, in a folding frame with straight or scissor legs, depending on the manufacturer and model, which is supplied with the machine.
They are made entirely of aluminum, extruded aluminum or a combination of aluminum and steel, which offers great strength, greater resistance and light weight that facilitates transport. Depending on the model, its total length can vary between 1 and 2 meters, with a net weight that ranges between 20 and more than 100 kg.
The following figure shows one of the models of ceramic cutting machine with rails and its main parts.
1 – Chassis: of great structural rigidity. Some models with 4 folding legs, like the one in the figure, include two legs provided with wheels, which allows the easy movement of the machine.
2 – Cutting head: It is a rail system or a sliding aluminum console on bearings that serves for precision guidance. It supports the electric motor, the guides and the protective guard of the cutting disc. The head can be tilted to activate the miter function of the machine, which allows to make cuts between 0 and 45º. Many heads also have vertical adjustment to adjust the cutting height.
3 – Cutting disc protective guard: It is a completely closed assembly that offers the maximum protection to the operator, improves the visibility of the piece and allows to accommodate cutting discs of up to 350 mm in diameter. The outer cover can be removed to change the disk.
4 – Water immersion cooling system: both the removal of dust, the useful life of the disc and the piece, and the precision and quality of the cut depend fundamentally on a good cooling system. The systems of these machines They consist of: a mechanical submersible water pump, a removable and large-capacity plastic bucket to store water, a plastic tube that supplies the water from the bucket to the cutting head, and a flow-regulating nozzle located in the head cutting, which correctly distributes the water on the surface of the disc.
5 – Electric motor: It is a direct drive single-phase motor, in some models with thermal and/or electric protector, whose power varies between 800 and 2200 W and is capable of giving the cutting disc a turning speed of 2500-3000 rpm.
Depending on the manufacturer and each particular model, the cutting machines with guide rails or console They are suitable for cutting large pieces of tile, ceramic, stoneware, granite, marble, tile, stone, brick, porcelain and other materials.