Abrasive Selection Guide: Types of Metalworking Abrasives
Anyone who regularly works with metal understands how important abrasives are to getting a final product that is actually useful. Whether you use them to cut sturdy materials down to size or sand down something to a clean finish, metalwork would be far more difficult without the use of a good abrasive. This abrasive selection guide will talk about the major types of metalworking abrasives and what they typically do.
Bonded Abrasive Discs
The most solid form of abrasives that get used very frequently is bonded abrasives, usually in the form of discs. They take a natural or synthetic abrasive mineral and fuse them together with binding and reinforcement agents to create a solid abrasive disc. These discs are very good at accurately cutting through solid metal materials, maintaining their shape and abrasive qualities even through some of the toughest metals available.
Not quite as solid as the bonded abrasive, coated abrasives are also commonly found in disc form, though they can appear in other configurations. An abrasive material will be coated onto a stable backing and sealed in place with a high-strength resin to lock it in. While coated abrasives tend to be pretty strong, their major benefit over bonded abrasives is their higher degree of flexibility. This flexibility is more useful for grinding and removing material from a larger piece of metal.
For many in the trade, non-woven abrasives are usually referred to by a brand name—Scotch-Brite. Rather than having a solid backing like the coated abrasive, non-woven abrasives have a backing that is more fibrous and random. The abrasive material gets attached in the same way via resin, but the fibrous texture of non-woven abrasive discs is better for polishing and finishing, with some even adding grain patterns to the finished piece of metal.
Tips for Using Abrasives
With the types of metalworking abrasives defined, we can start thinking about the best ways to use them properly. These tips will help you make sure you get the most out of your abrasives.
- Using cheaper abrasives runs a higher risk of getting unclean cuts or unintentional shoddy finishes on your metal.
- Always test a new abrasive on something inconsequential before using it on something important to better understand its unique properties.
- Always go for the finest grit you can get away with for getting the job done. An abrasive that is too coarse will leave rougher finishes than you might want.
- Even the toughest abrasives don’t last forever. The longer you use an abrasive past its intended use, the more likely unexpected and undesired results will pop up.
To find the best cutting and grinding abrasives available, take a look through our selection at TMT Toolbox. We offer plenty of abrasive options suited to your individual needs.