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.
Any machinist or machine shop knows that you are only ever as good as the tools you use to create products. You can have all the experience in the world, but if you don’t have the right tools to get the job done, you are already stuck. It’s no secret that machinist tools aren’t cheap and need to withstand heavy use over time; thus, the decision to rely on cheaper tools is almost always the wrong one.
As a supplier of high-quality machine tools, we know what happens to those who try and rely on lower quality, cheaply made machinist tools. Most of the time, the buyer will wish they had chosen the premium models instead because of how much more reliable and efficient they are.
While it can be intimidating to look at and think about paying the prices for these machines, we want to go over the benefits of investing in premium machinist tools so you can see what you’re really paying for. It is very much a long-term investment, but you’ll be glad you did later down the road.
There is no beating around the bush here. When you pay for premium machinist tools, you get premium results. In most industries that use these machines, even minuscule imperfections can be a serious detriment, so having a tool that is incredibly precise and accurate is key. Beyond high-quality results, you also rest easier knowing that these results are reliable in the long term. Your premium machine won’t start to lose its quality after only a few uses.
Getting those high-quality results is crucial to your success, but that doesn’t mean much if you can’t produce enough to meet orders or quotas. Your results need to be more than just good; they need to be consistently good time and time again. Premium machinist tools that you invest in don’t just give you great results, but they do so over and over again without any mistakes that might hurt your credibility.
Longer Life Spans
We all know the pain of buying something new, only to watch it break or fail far sooner than we would like. This is a risk you run every time you buy a tool with only cost in mind. While you can certainly make some machinist tools cheaply, there’s no guarantee that they will last long enough to remain useful for a significant period of time. If you don’t want to constantly spend money replacing broken tools, make the investment in quality now rather than later.
More Safety Features
Even with all the training in the world and a lifetime’s worth of experience, mistakes can happen. Unfortunately, in these kinds of industries, even small mistakes can cost you far more than you would like to pay. The safety features of these tools help filter out the chance that human error will cause a terrible accident. Higher-quality machinist tools are made with humans in mind, incorporating state-of-the-art safety features that can make a terrible accident into something far less tragic.
High Degree of Specialization
A trend in cheaper products across a lot of industries is making multi-use tools. While this concept seems useful on paper, a tool that gets designed to be able to do everything can almost never do all of them well. Investing in premium machinist tools means you will receive a tool specifically designed to do what you need it to, rather than something that tacked on that functionality later as an afterthought. This specialization ensures a much higher quality end product than a jack-of-all-trades tool.
Depending on your specific industry, you might need your machines running as often as possible for as long as they can go without stopping. Uptime can be a huge concern for machinists, especially if they need to pump out a lot of product very quickly. One of the benefits of investing in premium machinist tools is they usually have significantly more uptime capabilities than their cheaper alternatives. More uptime means less time wasted standing around waiting for something to happen.
Positioned for Growth
If you’re just getting started and don’t have a ton of funding, it is tempting to choose a cheaper option for your tools to save money. However, if you plan on growing your business and you know a specific tool will be integral to that process, you owe it to yourself to invest in your future growth. Higher quality machinist tools will last you much longer, as they can better handle an increase in production quantity as your business grows.
Efficient Energy Usage
Any machine shop around has a much higher demand for energy than the average person. Therefore, energy costs are another huge expense that machine shops have to constantly think about. For most machine tools, higher quality products will be able to more efficiently use energy to do their work compared to cheaper versions. Even a slight increase in energy efficiency can drastically reduce energy costs over time.
Faster Support and Customer Service
No machine tool is completely perfect, and you might run into a situation where you need to ask the manufacturer for help with setup or troubleshooting. You’ll find that manufacturers dedicated to producing high-quality tools will offer much more comprehensive customer services and support. If you need a problem dealt with as soon as possible and can’t suffer delays, you will be glad you chose a manufacturer that prioritizes customer service and quality over everything else.
Warranties are a crucial part of any expensive machinist tool. Familiarizing yourself with the warranties afforded to any piece of equipment will make it easier to choose something you can rely on. Lower-quality tools may not offer warranties of any kind because they know that their equipment won’t last a long time. If a tool comes with a warranty, it’s a good indication that the manufacturer puts a lot of stock in its level of quality.
If you need a machine tool supplier that will make it easy to get the premium equipment you need, TMT Toolbox has what you are looking for. We are always glad to help our customers find the tools that will match their needs the best and last well into the future.
Any experienced machinist will tell you that precision in measurements is one of the most important things to focus on. There is very little wiggle room when it comes to measuring any machine’s parts unless you want a catastrophic failure to deal with later on. To combat this from happening, machinists need these precision measurement tools that they can trust to provide essential and accurate measurements in any situation.
Arguably just as important as a construction worker’s hammer or an accountant’s calculator, every machinist needs calipers that provide precise measurements down to the smallest fraction of a millimeter. Digital calipers will be a machinist’s best friend as they allow them to see a more accurate measurement of what the caliper is around that can’t be seen with the naked human eye.
For machinists that focus on much smaller projects, sometimes a bog standard caliper won’t be able to get the job done in such tight spaces. That’s where a digital micrometer comes in handy. It’s an essential precision measurement tool that machinists use to measure extremely small parts in equally small increments. With measurements this small, you can’t trust just your eyes to see what’s going on, which makes a micrometer absolutely crucial to have in your toolbox.
Gauge Pins and Blocks
Finding gauge pins or gauge blocks that you can trust is all about getting them from reputable vendors such as TMT Toolbox. Both gauge pins and gauge blocks are used to accurately measure machined holes, where pins are for circular holes and blocks are for holes with hard angles. Any good machinist will have a set of gauge pins and blocks in plenty of sizes to accurately measure any machined hole with ease.
Machinist’s Squares and Protractors
Straight lines and precise angles are another crucial factor in creating machines that work as they should. Precision steel squares make sure that you can always get a straight line, but also provide easy reference for getting a perfect right angle. On the other hand, a machinist’s protractor allows you to measure out and model the exact degree of angle that you need. Whether you’re measuring for a cut or ensuring that an angle is perfect, you will need these tools to succeed.
No matter what kind of precision measurement tools you need, TMT Toolbox is the place you can trust to find ones that won’t let you down. We focus on providing quality and durability for all the tools we offer so you can focus on the job at hand and not on the tool in your hand.
Machine shops might seem like dangerous places to work for those outside the industry, but danger only really pops up when machinists don’t follow safety protocols the way they should. The tools machinists use are inherently dangerous, given what they can do to materials much stronger than the human body. These are the most important safety tips for working with machinist tools that you need to follow diligently to keep everyone safe.
Extensively Train Employees on All Machines
Knowledge is the best defense to protect yourself against these tools. Even if one person doesn’t use a specific tool very often, they should still know how it works and what could go wrong with it. Everyone in the machine shop should be aware of how each tool functions as well as what needs to happen with that particular tool in an emergency situation to reduce potential harm.
Never Forego Personal Protection Equipment
Personal protection equipment cannot be overlooked, no matter how long you’ve been working with a specific tool. Certain PPE, such as masks or respirators, are essential for keeping yourself healthy in the long term. Other equipment, such as industrial work gloves and safety goggles, can protect a machinist in a worst-case scenario situation. PPE is more than a precaution for working with these tools—it’s a requirement.
Keep Tools Well Maintained
Many machine shop tools need regular maintenance to ensure they work as intended and present as little risk for a malfunction as possible. In the same way that a dull kitchen knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp one, machining tools that have been working for a long time are at a greater risk for an accident or malfunction than one that’s been well maintained.
Never Force a Stalled Machine
Machine shop tools are designed to do as much of the work for the machinist as possible. There should never be a situation where you have to use force in order to get a machine working again, even if it seems to have stalled or gotten stuck. Using force to fix an issue like this is a recipe for disaster. You’re much better off shutting the machine down and addressing the issue before you harm yourself or damage the machine.
Always Inspect Machines Before Use
Even if you’re the safest machinist known to man, there’s no guarantee that everyone around you follows the same safety protocols. Before you begin working with any machine, give it a thorough once-over to make sure it was shut down correctly and that there are no ongoing hazards. Inspecting a machine before use will benefit everybody involved in its use and doesn’t take very long at all.
These safety tips should make working with machinist tools a much less hazardous experience for you and anyone who comes after you. A little bit of precaution can go a long way toward creating a safer working environment.