PRECISION-SHAPED GRAINS: FASTER CUTTING, LONGER LASTING, EASIER TO USE
This structural innovation represents one of the most important changes in the abrasives industry in decades. With a grinding wheel that lasts this long, shops now have a new easy-to-use abrasive that is not only good for workers, it’s good for business.
Metal fabricators have been using bonded wheels to grind metal and level welds for many years, and those in job shops and contract manufacturing would probably state that the traditional way of doing things has been adequate.
However, shop owners would likely agree that there is always room for improvement in terms of lowering manufacturing costs, increasing throughput and improving productivity. Additionally, fabricators would welcome technologies that could reduce fatigue.
HOW CONVENTIONAL GRAINS WORK
To understand how such improvements in productivity and throughput could be made, as well as how operator fatigue could be reduced, an examination of the current technology is necessary. Today most abrasive grain is manufactured rather than mined. These grains come in particles of various shapes and sizes due to the fact that they are manufactured with conventional crushing and screening techniques.
When these grains are coated onto an abrasive backing, the result is a random distribution of grain that is irregular in shape and size. The irregular cutting surface results in a “plowing” effect as it cuts through material. This plowing causes an increase in friction, which dulls the grain and causes the abrasive to cut more slowly, which adds time to the grinding process.
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About the Author: Erik P. Vanstrum is the technical service manager for the 3M Abrasive Systems Division, 3M Center Building 223-06S-03, St. Paul, MN 55144-1000, 866-279-1235, www.3M.com/abrasives.