Diamond burs are a staple tool for dental laboratories, but with such a wide range of shapes, materials and sizes it can be confusing to know exactly what you need. Generally speaking the burs have two components; a shank and the head. The bur shank is what attaches to the handpiece and is available in a variety of lengths for different styles of handpieces. The head is what actually does the cutting. In the case of a dental bur this is either a diamond or carbide head and comes in a variety of shapes. The shape of the head is important for the type of procedure and tooth being worked on. In addition to the head shape there are also a variety of diamond grits and other features that will affect how the bur performs.
Sintered diamond burs are the most durable and long-lasting type of diamond carving bur on the market. They are made of a full matrix of diamond grit and have been shown to outlast electroplated diamond burs ten times when used correctly. They are perfect for shaping and carving in glass, stone, ceramics, bone and metals as well as some hard woods. Simply lubricate with clean water before and during use for best results.
Plated Diamond Burs
Plated diamond burs are a good choice for novice gemstone carvers because they are inexpensive and work well. Plated diamond burs are typically made of electroplated diamond and are a thinner layer than sintered diamond burs. These thinner layers can wear away quicker but will still function well if kept properly lubricated. Plated diamond burs are a good option for carving large pieces of fire agate or opal.
High-Grade Sintered Diamond Burs
A higher quality sintered diamond bur is the way to go for serious gemstone carvers. These high-quality sintered diamond burs are made of high-grade synthetic diamonds. They have a thick uniform layer of graded abrasive embedded in a strong, durable binder. This means that the abrasive will wear down consistently, exposing fresh diamond surfaces as it does so. These types of sintered diamond burs will easily outlast standard plated burs that are available at most jewelry stores.
The tungsten carbide heads of these sintered diamond burs are much tougher than a traditional friction grip shank. This makes them a great tool for removing metal-based restorations and are especially effective for enameloplasting and odontoplasty. The tungsten carbide is also three times stiffer than steel so it can take a lot of abuse before it becomes dulled. These tungsten carbide heads are also available on a latch style RA shank.
The abrasive in these sintered diamond burs is embedded throughout the entire head of the bur. This allows the abrasive to maintain its sharp cutting edge as it wears through the material being cut. This helps to ensure that your cuts will be as precise and smooth as possible. These abrasive heads are available on a 3/32″ shaft and come in a number of popular shapes.