Aluminum is the most common metallic element in the world. In its pure form, aluminum is silvery-white and lightweight. While readily available and commonly used, aluminum is a difficult material to process as it poses a unique set of challenges, particularly when it comes to grinding. In some aluminum manufacturing applications, grinding is a required finishing process for material deburring and cleanup. The best way to ensure that you’re grinding process is efficient while also providing you with the desired result hinges on using the correct abrasive at all times.
All About Discs
Generally, three main abrasive products are recommended for aluminum grinding applications: depressed-center wheels, fiber discs, and flap discs. Each disc, when used for its specific purpose, can give you the aluminum deburring or finishing results that you’re looking for.
Depressed-center Wheels. These abrasive wheels are best-suited for deburring applications and offer the best wheel life because they have a more resilient, much harder backing than the fiber and flap discs. This backing is sturdy enough to remove an aluminum weld completely. These wheels normally contain no wax or rubber fillers, which helps impede loading on hard-to grind aluminum.
Depressed-center wheels are not recommended for finishing applications, as they would leave an obvious scratch pattern, requiring you to perform further finishing activities.
The wheels are available in ceramic alumina, zirconia alumina, and aluminum oxide abrasives.
Fiber Discs. Fiber discs offer cool cutting action for cleanup and repair applications. In general, fiber discs have a shorter lifespan than depressed-center wheels or flap discs.
Zirconia grain is recommended because it has the ability to microfracture, exposing sharp cutting points constantly, which helps to extend disc life.
Flap Discs. These discs combine the best attributes of both depressed-center wheels and fiber discs. They can deburr and perform cleanup finishing simultaneously, saving time and money.
Flap discs have three main components—backing plate, adhesive, and abrasive cloth. The abrasive cloth is layered, providing a cushioned substrate that results in high heavy stock removal rates and surface blending action.
Read more: Gearing up to grind aluminum