With so many products now available in the surface finishing market, it is important to choose the most effective type of grain for your application, both to reduce costs and maximise efficiency. All abrasive products will do the job to some extent, however the key is using the ones which will do it in the shortest time and achieve the best result. As such we have broken down each type of abrasive grain into how they are structured, how they perform and the applications for which we recommend they are used.
With metalworking in particular, aluminium oxide is only recommended for use on softer substrates such as aluminium in the coarser stock removal stages (i.e. up to P120.) However, as the operator works through the finer grades they will be aiming to improve the finish rather than take off material and should therefore apply less pressure, and as such it is suitable at this stage to use on almost all metals. For this reason it is often available in a wider range of grits than other grains, in some cases up to P1000.
Due to the very aggressive and fast-cutting nature of the grain, zirconia is generally only available in the coarse to medium grit range (often no finer than P120.) For finer finishing stock removal is not the priority so less pressure is likely to be applied and zirconia would not therefore be suitable. It can be supplied in some materials with an open coat for use on soft materials such as rubber and leather, and so such products are prominent in the shoe repair industry.
Ceramic is often supplied with a top-size to offer cooler grinding on heat-sensitive metals such as stainless steel, similarly to zirconia. This is however sprayed as an additional layer on top of the abrasive grain which therefore reduces its aggressiveness, and so it is best to use an abrasive without a top-size on metals such as mild steel which do not suffer from burning.
The grain macro-fractures during use, which means that it breaks down into smaller pieces that act to re-sharpen it before it goes dull. This does however happen relatively quickly compared to other materials and so silicon carbide offers the best life & performance on substrates such as plastics, glass and brass, that require little to no pressure to be applied while the razor-sharp grains offer a very fast cut and leave a bright, consistent finish.
A uniform scratch depth and pattern is achieved with the worn/dull grain being shed and fresh grain being exposed from underneath. The consistent performance and finish is particularly suited to satin finishing stainless steel surfaces.
At first glance the surface of the abrasive appears deceptively coarse for its equivalent grades in other materials, due to the grains being clustered together. However the surface finish which it achieves is much finer than its appearance would suggest.
Surface Conditioning Material
With a flexible backing this also maximises performance on curved and contoured workpieces such as tubes and pipes, as well as other hard to reach areas. Gaps between the fibres prevent the build-up of swarf, ensuring that it does not clog up the abrasive and maximises its service life. The benefit of non-woven materials is that the fibres will not leave fine splinters on the workpiece, as is a common occurrence with steel wool that is an alternative product for similar applications.
Performing best at medium pressures makes Trizact ideal for polishing applications on metals such as carbon steel, as well as stainless steel for which it features a grinding aid to reduce surface temperatures when grinding and therefore minimises discoloration.
The benefit of Trizact is that it stays sharp from start to finish, ensuring a consistent, predictable finish throughout its service life. It can therefore last up to five times as long as conventional abrasives, which naturally see a decline in performance and cut over time as the grain dulls.
Felt has good absorption properties, with its open structure allowing it to soak up particles of dirt when cleaning, and absorb the polishing media to apply it consistently across the surface.