Abrasives are one of the fundamental requirements in the industrial and manufacturing sector. They are used for finishing of the produced goods. An abrasive (generally a mineral) is a substance used for smoothening out the edges and surface of a work piece through friction to give a seamless and smooth finish to the product.
There are various varieties of abrasives available in the market with variations in chemical and physical composition. Their usage is proportional to the work piece they are used for. An abrasive is comparatively a harder substance which is rubbed against the work piece.
Abrasives have a plethora of usage some of which include grinding, polishing, drilling, smoothening, buffing, cutting, honing etc. Abrasives depending upon their usage maybe naturally occurring or synthetic stones made chemically. For Example, for sharpening of work pieces naturally occurring abrasives are used.
Some naturally occurring abrasives include calcite, pumice, sand, garnet, sandstone etc. Manufactured abrasives have three main varieties namely bonded abrasives, coated abrasives and super abrasives.
Bonded abrasives as the name suggests consists of an abrasive material usually bound in matrix which maybe rubber, glass or resin. The most common abrasive used in this case is aluminum oxide. Other abrasives used in bonded abrasives include tungsten carbide and silicon carbide.
Sandpaper is one of the most common examples for coated abrasives. Coated Abrasives as the name suggests contains an abrasive coated on the back of a material (called as backing material). The backing material used here could be paper, cloth, rubber resin etc. Various binding agents are used in the backing material as adhesives to hold the abrasive. Wax is often used as a binding agent.
Super abrasives are relatively expensive abrasives available in the market. They are highly efficient in terms of abrasive resistance and their significant hardness. Super abrasives are tailor made to meet the needs of the modern industry. Diamond and cubic Boron Nitride are few common examples of superior abrasives.
The type of workpiece is proportional to the abrasive that should be used. A softer abrasive leaves no or very fine scratches when used that might be invisible to the naked eyes. Softer abrasives take longer to cut, polish or grind workpieces in comparison to harder abrasives. Softer abrasives also wears out easily as they tend to abrade themselves upon use. Hence softer abrasives are used for polishing of lenses and fine metals.
Choosing of abrasives requires great skills and expertise as a hard abrasive can lead to wearing out of the metal and eventually wastage of time and money whereas a very soft abrasive can lead to untimely abrasion and complete failure.
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