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FAQ About Lightning Laps

FAQ About Lightning Laps

Cutting Edge Supply is a proud supplier of Lightning Laps. Lightning Laps produces some of the highest quality faceting laps on the market right now and here is some info on a few questions that many people ask about them. 
Which polishing lap should I use?

This is the most common question that people have when they are just getting started with faceting. For that matter, even seasoned facetors pose this question every day. It begs to wonder why would most of us are still looking for a better way when we’re used to some proven methods and gear? Most of us learn from the school of hard-knocks.

There are some basic polishing rules to follow which will give consistent results. Though gemstone materials of either naturally-occurring, or man-made (synthetic, lab-grown) rough, usually tends to polish best with a specific type of abrasive medium. But sometimes, due to signature characteristics of localized mine-runs, or lab-grown synthetics can often be polished with multiple solutions. But, there are no hard and fast rules. Therefore, most of us have a large selection of polishing laps on hand. Some old proven relics like copper, zinc, wax, maple, ceramic, and a number of other types of polishing solutions still grace our lap storage areas; and often get used on a regular basis.

I’ve heard a lot about the LLCeox laps. What materials are they good for?

Specific gem rough, like the Quartz-Glass Family for instance, will always polish better, or faster using a high-quality Cerium Oxide, (LLCN, Ceox). For many years, all manner of technical, scientific and eyeglass optics have depended upon cerium oxide for this chore. So in my book, one should look no further and choose the right tool for the right job!

What can I use the Alumina Laps for?

Aluminum Oxide (A1-Linde-A, or A2-Brutus, ALOX) is often used for a larger array of gemstones such as, Beryl, including Aqua Marine, and Emerald. In addition, ALOX is used to polish Garnet, Corundum, Spinel, and CZ.

Will the D’Lites allow me speed up the polishing process?

Each grit size polishes at an abrasion level similar to any of the familiar competition, but with some remarkable differences:

The LL-D''Lites produce a smoother finish than diamond laps you may have previously used.

The LL-D''Lites are quicker than other diamond polishing laps. Polishing doesn’t seem to diminish throughout the life of the lap!

Can I skip some polishing steps?

After a very brief "break-in", the LL-D''Lites tend to eliminate the need for multiple, or many polishing steps for each facet tier. For instance on softer stones, after using the D''Lite1200, depending upon the gem material, you can usually proceed to final polish. Though I wouldn''t recommend this for the harder species of rough like corundum. It may still be prudent to follow a personal time-honored procedure of stepping your way through a regimen of multiple (up to 5) grits, from coarse to fine to bring the polishing to completion. Doing so will also extend the life of your LL-D’Lites

What about Orange Peel?

Many users have reported, that the D''Lite diamond laps do not produce, but rather eliminate the dreaded, "orange-peel" effect during polishing.

Orange peel often defies an equitable polishing of some facets. The appearance of unpolished pits or dimpling in the facet face during the use of 3k or finer grit materials can be found to occur on many hard, (8 mohs +) and even some softer gemstone materials, such as garnet. It usually “surfaces” on facets in a zone which seems to be harder than the rest, taking more pressure, and/or time to polish them. So you can see how valid it is to have a “sharp” polishing lap.

The diamond D’Lite laps typically do not cause “orange-peel.” Rather, they can cancel, or prevent it, which saves time and expensive rough. Need I say, that it’s a big plus not having to repeatedly process and resize the stone again?

Since diamond is so hard, won’t a polishing surface last forever?

In order for a gem facet to become polished, both the rough and the polishing medium must lose some ions! A lot of them actually. Generally a lot more ions are removed from your rough. But even diamond wears over time. So it becomes less effective the more you use it.

But with the LL-D’Lites, though the diamond does wear, it is also replaced by diamond deeper in the resin coating; revealing new cutting surfaces.

Quite simply, the most serious lapping error is in using a worn, or “dull” cutting, or polishing lap of any kind! Also, due to a dull lap, increased hand pressure causes mechanical heat to weaken the bond of dop to stone; and helps to develop deep surface damages to the facets. With excessive hand pressure, a weakened bond can suddenly cause your dopped stone to go flying-off the dop. You will be in hot pursuit; chasing it down from some hidden resting place, possibly never to be seen again! (Oh, expletive, expletive, expletive!)

Which lap should I use to rough-in my facets?

Form and cut your rough stone with a sharp, metal-bonded, 260, 325, or 600 diamond lap. A self-diamond-charged Copper lap also works very well.

What’s the next step? What should I use to pre-polish?

I know this will sound like an ad for my lap products, but rightfully so. Follow up the initially-formed facets cut while roughing-in. Use either a D’Lite600, or D’Lite1200, followed by one or more final polishing steps to completion. As it’s often said, “different strokes for different folks.” But generally, certain characteristics, and hardness rules still apply.

I like to recommend a “5-step” polishing process from the roughing-in to final polish for most hard stones over 8 mohs. But often softer stones can be final polished after using the D’Lite600 or 1200, depending on the material and size of facets.

Are there different lap platforms?

Yes, we produce both, 6” & 8” laps in ¼” standard thickness and a strong, very stable topper format for each as well. The standard thickness is a stand-alone lap. But the toppers do require a Master lap to ensure support in reducing run-out.

What kind of performance can I expect from the D’Lite diamond laps?

The D''Lite1200 out-performs any other 1200 diamond lap made today! You''ll never find a cleaner, finer, near-polished finish, as you will from the LL-D''Lite1200! It''s simply the best thing since PB&J! And once you''ve "tasted" it, you''ll want more!!!

The LL-D''Lite diamond laps are equally astounding regardless of the grit size you choose to work with. Granted, as the particle size gets smaller, the work being done is less, but it is still very fast when compared to other 1200 diamond laps and polishes. Slurries, or “fixed-surface” polishing mediums, such as a metal-bond, or resin-bond of equal micron particle size are often touted as being the best there is. And once in a while, they are. However, consistency in polishing across the micron spectrum is what Lightning Lap has endeavored to produce. And we believe the LL-D’Lite diamond polishing laps have accomplished just that!

Can I use the diamond D’Lites for cutting and polishing?

One major surprise is how the D''LIte diamond laps cut and polish at the same time! Facets can easily be “moved” during polish. So you must allow more cutting space between tiers! But the diamond D’Lites aren’t designed to take the place of a fixed diamond cutting lap!!!

So, the bonus effect of the LL-D’Lite is a powerfully-fast removal of material while producing an unbelievably smooth, scratch-free finish, equal to that expected from much finer polishes. Therefore I repeat, the user must allow sufficient space between tiers, leaving room to polish them in to meet the previous layers or tiers. Over-polishing produces uneven meets with previous tiers of facets!

That said, I do not recommend using any of the D''Lites as a cutting lap. Some have tried, even myself for that matter. Yes, they do work, but the cost of heavy abrasion will reduce the longevity of these fine polishing laps.

Can I save time and polish with fewer laps, or mediums?

The D''Lite recipe has been meticulously formulated to give quick, smooth, results, without the polishing hassles you may have previously experienced. And you can usually do it with fewer lap changes.

Specifically, this is true if you’re using the D’Lite Toppers. For removing one and going to the next polish is easy as setting or clearing the table, with the master lap remaining to accept the next lap. This quick change feature is revered by many.

It is interesting to note, that a few buyers purchase one each of the suite of seven (7) D''Lite laps, (and may soon grow to 9?). But many choose two or three basic grit sizes. Polishing habits and techniques vary, so having more than one arrow in the quiver is a good thing for most of us. And yet others attempt a more Spartan outlook on faceting.

Why don’t you advertise your LLs?

Many die-hard users of other polishing laps, or systems are now discovering the superior, new LL-D''Lite diamond polishing laps. It’s hard to refute the word of mouth, “show’n’tell”, ease of polishing, that people are getting with the D’lite laps! This helps to keep the costs down!

I’m still a bit confused. So can I expect cutting performance or polishing from the D’Lites?

A new D’Lite user should easily be able to go from a 600-cutting lap to the D''Lite1200, or D''Lite3k followed by your preferred final polishing lap, depending upon the hardness and difficulty factors with your rough. However, you might want to invest in the D''Lite 8k, 14k, and D''Lite50k laps for a broader range of capabilities.

The oxide laps, LLCeox, A1-Linde A, and A2-Brutus can be better for specific gem materials. But these D’Lite diamond polishing laps will literally blow you away with speed and performance!

So Cut and Polish at the same time?

I repeat, that although the LL-D''Lite laps do cut aggressively; and I mean, CUT!; they are not intended to be used as a sole cutting lap. As they will wear away prematurely if you do! But to be sure, they are seriously aggressive; removing gem material faster than you might expect! So I do recommend the use of a steel or other cutting lap to pre-form your facets. After that, you may decide upon an appropriate D''Lite diamond, or oxide lap for the species you’re polishing.

Personally, if I were rough-cutting a stone with a 260, 325, or 600; the finer the better, as fewer deep “ruts” or furrows will be inflicted on the stone faces. Then I''d probably choose either a D''Lite600 or D’Lite1200 for the next pass over these facets. The D''Lite1200 will make fast work of smoothing your roughed-in facets, leaving a fine pre-polish, ready for the final polishing lap.

The reason I stress caution when using these diamond LL-D''Lites is because they will transcend your thinking, into almost an invincibility. But not so fast! This is far from fact!

So how long will a diamond D’Lite lap last?

During cutting and polishing, all minerals must give up something. That is the polish itself and the stone, all lose Ions during abrasion (polishing). So depending on the hardness of the gem you''re cutting, there will be more or less rough material left on the stone, along with a loss of polishing millage, due to wear and tear on the lap. It''s a rather controlled, but predictable, reduction. The gauge or meter to measure such miniscule losses probably exists. But suffice it to say, that eventually, even your D''Lites will require resurfacing.

ALL laps do wear out, beginning from the first swipe across the lap with your precious rough material, or knuckle, if you get it too close! But eventually, all laps are reduced to less than useful. So a resurfacing will need to be arranged. KEEP A SHARP LAP is my main mantra! Be assured, that the "D''LITE" diamond lap system will amaze you from start to finish! Durability depends upon the size of facets and number of gems you''re cutting, as well as your technique.

Can I have a faceting party with friends and family at my elbow?

It is very important to keep your wits about you as you facet. Interruptions from things outside of your dedicated lapidary area can do serious damage to your gems and equipment, not to mention physical harm. “Been there, done that!”

Create a quiet, serene atmosphere for polishing; with music to inspire and a favorite beverage to whet the whistle. Then let a sharp lap do the work! No pressure is necessary; just make contact between the stone and the lap. Some initial burnishing will be required, but it settles down quickly to a beautiful, serenade of success for the operator.

This information was originally written here

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