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Training tips: Abrasives

by Rich Vurva

Abrasives suppliers are continually striving to bring new products to market that enhance productivity and lower costs. Here’s a brief look from three leading suppliers at what’s driving change in the industry.

Jordan Schimel, product specialist

The development of geometrically shaped abrasive grains have been extremely successful in the market over the past several years. But, even with this development, there needs to be a level of support and technical knowledge that helps the end user get the best performance out of any abrasive product.

One of PFERD’s greatest strengths is providing this type of technical education to the consumer to optimize results. Especially with the continuing popularity of new and better abrasive grains in the market, PFERD’s goal is to make sure that the end user is getting the best value. As a result, we have seen a shift in the market from the use of bonded abrasives such as rough grinding wheels, to increased usage of coated abrasive discs such as flap discs, fiber discs and high-performance grinding discs such as our CC-GRIND-SOLID. These products can save time and money by performing heavy removal tasks with better precision and comfort, reducing strain on the user, and avoiding secondary steps or rework.

A number of new products in development that directly speak to this trend are targeted for release in early 2019.

Our sales force and technical team has a strong idea of how products react in different applications. PFERD is driven in the marketplace by education to our distribution partners and end users, as well as measurable time- and cost-savings initiatives such as our Documented Cost Savings tool.

PFERD has a longstanding interest in improving ergonomics, such as producing products with lower decibel output, less vibration, less environmental particle contamination, and less time spent to get from problem to solution. When we make a product we know that 95 percent of what we make is going to be in someone’s hand in a shop, so we do everything we can to improve their well being as well as everyone else in their proximity.

PFERD has a number of new abrasive products in development that will launch in early 2019 with our new tool manual, engineered to give the end user maximum results in the least amount of time.

Gemtex ceramic resin fibre discGEMTEX ABRASIVES
Frank Prenda, vice president of sales & marketing

Abrasive technology has evolved drastically over the past 25 years, raising the bar for the types of products that meet quality standards at large manufacturing facilities. The mid 1990s saw the advent of zirconia resin fibre discs make an impact on the dominant aluminum oxide disc market. At the turn of the century, ceramic grain began to have a major impact on zirconia sales due to the technologies developed in that category. With the understanding that there are a variety of components that comprise abrasive product formulations, the following grain types will provide a better understanding of the graduated progression of resin fibre disc technologies.

Aluminum Oxide: Due to the abundant supply and economical price of the aluminum oxide grain, it was the primary disc type available that performed adequately across a wide range of applications from wood to stainless steel. Although still being used today and a good choice for wood applications, aluminum oxide’s efficiency has dropped off considerably for metal grinding projects.

Zirconia alumina: The structure and characteristics of these discs (zirconia and aluminum oxide layered combination) provides more effective cut rates and longer life than a pure aluminum oxide while still providing an economical grinding option.
Zirconia: Fibre discs made with formulas utilizing 100 percent zirconia grain (Gemtex Zee Supreme) will maintain a longer life grinding cycle with a “gradual decline” in performance over the life of the disc. In comparison, a zirconia alumina product will experience a “dramatic decline” in performance as the disc wears out.

Ceramic: Due to the grain properties, ceramic resin fibre discs have become the benchmark as it relates to optimum performance on high-tensile metal alloys. The Gemtex Ultra-X resin fibre discs are made with a finer crystalline grain structure that provides a unique mineral fracture, extending disc life and providing a more aggressive cutting action. In addition, we incorporate a top size coating which reduces heat and friction extending disc life.

Although great strides have been made in the past, resin fibre disc manufacturers are working on new generations of abrasive grain and formula innovations that are on the horizon to continually advance quality standards required to satisfy the demands of large resin fibre disc users globally.

Mercer Zirconia flap discMERCER INDUSTRIES
Jim Wallick, president

In the metalworking market, end users are demanding less downtime with fewer product changes that require faster and cooler cutting products. In short, customers want increased productivity at a cheaper cost.

Mercer has recently developed a series of ceramic and zirconia products that increase our customers’ productivity and are priced very competitively. The productivity increased exponentially while the price difference is minimal compared to our existing product. The shape and wear patterns of new zirconia and ceramic grains offer faster stock removal and longer life, reducing process times.

ZSPEED Zirconia cut-off wheels are manufactured with a unique combination of abrasive grains and are double reinforced with two layers of heat-resistant, high-tensile strength fiberglass. The special bonding and extra thin design allows ZSPEED to cut faster and last longer. It only requires low pressure to cut, reducing operator fatigue and increasing tool life.

Zirconia grain is more durable than aluminum oxide and is best for medium to heavy material removal. Zirconia stays cool, doesn’t glaze and is contaminant free. The cut-off wheels will not leave residue or contaminants on the metal that can possibly develop rust spots or other surface imperfections on stainless steel, improving the overall appearance of the final product. The self-sharpening feature of zirconia allows for more productivity.

Ceraflame 2 Resin Fibre Discs feature a high concentration of ceramic grain that lasts 40 percent longer than the original grain. Ceramic, a premium man-made grain that self-sharpens throughout its life, is the longest lasting, coolest cutting abrasive in the Mercer Industries line.

These new resin fibre discs are specially formulated to be used on high-performance alloys, high carbon steel, stainless steel, non-ferrous metals and heat-sensitive metals. They have a heavy-duty vulcanized fibre backing and a top size coating for cool, fast cutting. Available in grits from 24 to 80, they can be used to strip, grind, debur and polish. The discs are contaminant free to prevent stainless steel from rusting and will not stain or burn material.

We work closely with our customers to develop products that fill requirements that are not necessarily being met by the current products on the market. This is a natural progression of the Ceraflame product line, providing our partners with a premium offering to help satisfy their customers’ needs.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2018 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2018, Direct Business Media.


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