Abrasive wheels have long been used in manufacturing to support sanding operations, finishing, and polishing, among other applications. While seemingly straightforward, these machines may vary significantly in their design and function. In this blog, we will discuss everything you need to know about abrasive wheels, including their composition, applications, and variants.
The first abrasive wheel used in industrial applications came about over 150 years ago. Although these early designs differ only slightly from the machines we see today, 19th-century engineers relied solely on glass-like materials as their abrasive structures. Today, the manufacturing process for abrasive wheels is tightly regulated, given the high risk of injury in case of equipment failure. To this point, one of the most critical aspects of manufacturing is the selection of abrasive materials. Silicon carbide is a hard, sharp chemical compound consisting of silicon and carbon molecules. While used widely as an abrasive material, silicon carbide is limited to soft products with low tensile strength, owing to its brittleness. For applications requiring work with harder compounds, aluminum oxide is preferred. Superabrasive materials such as cubic boron nitride and diamond may also be implemented for specialty applications, but these are far more expensive.
It is important to examine several critical features when comparing abrasive wheels, including grain size, wheel grade, grain spacing, and wheel bond. Any material may exist in a variety of grain sizes, ranging from very coarse to ultra-fine. The grain-size continuum can be represented numerically on a scale from 10-600, in which the number increases with fineness. Meanwhile, wheel grade describes the adhesion between the bonding wheel and the abrasive material, with "A" being the softest and "Z" being the hardest. Generally, the grade is inversely proportional to the hardness of the material it is compatible with. Another variable to consider is the grain spacing, rated from 1-17, decreasing in density. Finally, one must understand the various bonding materials and how they affect the end product. Each material, such as rubber, resin fold, silicate, and others, have their own properties and appropriate applications.
Abrasive wheels come in varying designs, but they are all generally large and found only in a regulated industrial environment. Straight grinding wheels may be installed on a bench or pedestal and are used extensively in wood and metalwork. Cylinder wheels provide a large surface area for grinding, making them ideal for finishing large automotive or aerospace parts. Meanwhile, tapered wheels are designed with downward-facing protrusions that can sustain higher lateral loads when needed.
Straight cup abrasive wheels are smaller, bowl-shaped attachments that find use in tool-sharpening applications. A similarly designed dish cup is used in masonry and metal shops to provide accurate finishes to tight slots. Regardless of the design, all abrasive wheels are consumable goods, and they must be replaced if there are any signs of excessive wear. Any cracks or tears in the material should warrant immediate inspection and cessation of operation until the operator can ensure the machine is safe to run. Finally, users should diligently keep the equipment at an adequate temperature with various cooling measures.
At Internet of Industrials, we understand the importance of high-quality equipment, which is why we only offer the best abrasive wheel components on the market. As an AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B accredited enterprise, we regularly subject our inventory to various forms of testing to screen for any defects. Additionally, we offer same-day shipping options on select in-stock items, making us the perfect choice for customers facing AOG situations. We invite you to browse our expansive inventory today, and when you are ready to begin the purchasing process, you may do so at any time using our Instant RFQ service.
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