A saw having a self-pumped hydrodynamic blade guide or bearing for retaining the saw blade in a centered position in the saw kerf (width of cut made by the saw). The hydrodynamic blade guide or bearing utilizes pockets or grooves incorporated into the sides of the blade. The saw kerf in the workpiece provides the guide or bearing stator surface. Both sides of the blade entrain cutting fluid as the blade enters the kerf in the workpiece, and the trapped fluid provides pressure between the blade and the workpiece as an inverse function of the gap between the blade surface and the workpiece surface. If the blade wanders from the center of the kerf, then one gap will increase and one gap will decrease and the consequent pressure difference between the two sides of the blade will cause the blade to re-center itself in the kerf. Saws using the hydrodynamic blade guide or bearing have particular application in slicing slabs from boules of single crystal materials, for example, as well as for cutting other difficult to saw materials such as ceramics, glass, and brittle composite materials.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.