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Getting Gritty

End-users are demanding that coated abrasives produce finer finishes

by Rich Vurva

Metalworking customers are becoming more demanding than ever when it comes to selecting coated abrasives products. Whether it’s a desire for application-specific abrasives designed to work with exotic or hard-to-grind materials, or environmental concerns such as dust-free workplaces, end-users are looking for distributors to bring them the most innovative solutions from coated abrasives suppliers.

Joe Masters
Joe Masters

“We’re seeing the customer base asking for higher finish requirements. The customer is definitely showing a preference for higher consistency, finer surfaces, more and more in the 1500-4000 grit range,” says Joe Masters, marketing manager for sia Abrasives.

Masters adds that health, safety and welfare also are affecting product decisions, as customers are looking toward multiple-hole discs for better dust extraction for a cleaner work environment for their employees.

“Anti-static properties plan into this trend as well, as these coatings allow for less buildup and, therefore, result in cleaner working parts with less maintenance,” he says.

Masters says recent updates to the TopTec brand abrasive belts address environmental concerns.

“We continuously update the quality and performance of our TopTec size coating, which addresses static buildup and loading issues,” he says.

sia Abrasives recently invested more than $60 million in a new manufacturing facility in Switzerland, including machinery with laser finishing heads to offer various,
multi-hole disc patterns. “The new maker will also provide us with tighter controls than ever before to help with product modifications for future customer requirements,” Masters says.

Cost reduction
A major reason end-users continue to demand greater performance from their abrasive belts, discs and sanders is a desire to remove material more cost effectively.

“Today’s economic situation is forcing users to look to abrasive manufacturers for innovative solutions that help reduce their overall costs,” says Tony Hufford, abrasives product manager for Weiler Corporation. “The industrial metal fabrication market has shown an increased need for application or material-specific products, such as coated abrasives utilizing ceramic grains.”

Tony Hufford
Tony Hufford

Hufford says the aggressive, self-sharpening nature of ceramic grain makes it a popular choice for grinding applications involving stainless steel, aluminum, Inconel, titanium, armored steel and other hard-to-grind metals.

“Weiler Corporation introduced a complete line of Saber Tooth ceramic products, including flap discs, high-density flap discs, resin fiber discs, blending discs and belts. These products are specifically engineered with a bright red grinding aid for superior performance on the hard-to-grind metals,” he says. “This grinding aid prevents dulling and glazing of grain and allows for cool cutting, protecting high value parts from heat discoloration.”

Hufford says Weiler was an industry leader when it introduced the first top-coated ceramic Trimmable flap disc. The Trimmable backing allows users to trim the backing during use, exposing more of the abrasive grain and dramatically extending the life of the disc.

“This results in lower grinding and finishing costs. The Trimmable backing can also be trimmed prior to initial use, extending the overhang of the flaps, allowing them to flex around the edge of the disc. This makes them a perfect choice for fillet weld grinding and also allows high flexibility for grinding irregular shapes,” he says.

Weiler also offers a complete line of Trimmable flap discs in Zirconium grain for general grinding and finishing applications.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2012 issue of Industrial Supply magazine. Copyright 2012, Direct Business Media.


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