When it comes to grinding, using the wrong type of wheel can have disastrous results. There are three pages of grinding wheel accidents listed on the OSHA website. Imagine how many more went unreported.
In order to avoid any injury and make sure your project turns out the best it can be, you need to choose the right type of grinding wheels. Read about WeRedesign.
Here, we go over the many types of grinding wheels components and what each is best suited for.
Choosing the Right Abrasive Grain
The first step in choosing a wheel is finding the right abrasive grain for your application. Here are the four most common types.
This is the most used abrasive you’ll find in most grinding wheels. It’s in the mid-grade price point right above the low-cost silicon carbide abrasive.
This abrasive is best used on materials that have a higher tensile strength.
These materials include:
- Stainless Steel
- Carbon Steel Tools
- High Tensile Aluminum Alloys
- High Tensile Bronze Alloys
Ceramic Aluminum Oxide
This abrasive is usually pale blue in color and is one of the more durable abrasives. It’s very modern and utilizes a unique microcrystalline formation that makes the abrasive self-sharpening.
These properties allow a cooler cut and less maintenance on the wheel. Sometimes referred to as ceramic, this abrasive is best used for:
- Hard Steel Alloys
- Precision Grinding
- Difficult to Grind Materials
This is also a self-sharpening abrasive featuring a wedge-shaped, block, drop formed grit. It is used in rough grinding applications.
It’s ideal when high stock removal is required. It’s best used for:
- High Tech Resin Bonds
The most inexpensive abrasive, silicon carbide is a very sharp grain. It’s perfect for non-ferrous materials.
This low-cost blade used to be the standard on most commercial bench grinders but are slowly being replaced by aluminum oxide wheels.
Silicon carbide works well with grinding:
- Soft Metals
- Gray Iron
- Soft Brass
- Chilled Iron
You Have to Have Grit to Get a Good Grind
Once you’ve got the right abrasive you have to match it with the correct grit for it’s intended use.
Grit is measured in grain size and has four different levels:
- Very Fine Grain
- Fine Grain
- Normal Grain
- Coarse Grain
Each level comes with its own set of numbered levels associated with the grain. Very fine grain has grain sizes from 240 – 2500, while the coarse grain is 8 – 24.
The lower the grit and grain size the less attractive the material finish will be. The higher the grain the finer the finish. The highest grain sizes almost look buffed when finished on the grinding wheel.
The Wheel’s Bond is as Important as the Grit
The bond is what holds the wheel and it’s abrasive grains together. This material holds the grains secure while grinding but also has the ability to wear away as needed to provide new grains and make the wheel self-sharpening as it’s used.
The majority of grinding wheels feature vitrified bonds. These are made of a mixture of clays and are hardened while the wheel is put through the kiln.
The super high temperature of the kiln turns the different clays into a mixture similar to glass and when cooled the glass forms spans that attach each grain to the one beside it. This forms a secure workspace that also wears away as needed.
There are also bonds made of organic substances so they soften during grinding. A couple of good examples are resinoid bonds, made from synthetic resin materials, and rubber bonds, which are more suitable for high-quality finish applications.
The Nine Questions for Picking the Right Types of Grinding Wheels
Your best bet on avoiding grinding wheel wear is choosing the right wheel to begin with. There are nine essential questions you must ask before choosing your wheel:
- Will your grinding operation be a wet or dry process?
- What type of machine will you be using? Pay attention to its power and its conditions.
- Determine the size and hardness of the grinding contact area.
- What material will you be grinding and how hard is it?
- What stock needs to be removed from the material?
- What is the severity of the grinding required?
- What wheel speeds and feeds will be involved?
- Work out the shape of the material and the surface finish that is required.
- What is the dressing method?
Once you’ve addressed these questions your answer will become clear as to which grinding wheel is right for your project.
Which Grinding Wheel is Right for Your Application?
At the end of it all, the only way to know which is best is to try one in your intended applications. No matter which types of grinding wheels you try, the end result is what matters most.
You may find that your project does better with a material meant primarily for another metal. You may need a finer finish than the typical wheel would provide for your metal.
However, we hope this guide gives you a good jumping-off point in your hunt for the perfect grinding wheel. After all, the tools and materials used are the most important for quality finished work.
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