Ask the Experts: The Benefits of Indexable Tools

Grainger Editorial Staff

Hello and welcome to another edition of Granger Ask the Experts. Today, we're talking about grinding wheel selection, particularly what type of material or grinding material do you select for your job?

So, grinding wheels have two basic components. There's the abrasive part that does the work, if you will, and then there's the bond that holds those things together. And so, when it comes time to select the right material or the right grinding wheel for your job, there's four basic materials that you'll have a choice of. One is aluminum oxide, kind of the entry level, typically the lowest cost, and it's more of a general purpose abrasive. The second is going to be zirconium. Zirconium is actually a blend of aluminum oxide and zirconia, and the advantage there is a little higher metal removal rate. When it comes time to consider an abrasive, what happens is abrasives fracture as they're being used, and they fracture specifically in certain angles, and that helps with metal removal rates. So, as you choose a higher level or a higher end abrasive material, that's actually what you're selecting. And so, with higher performance, certainly comes a higher cost, so you're going to need to balance what you're doing with what you're spending on your grinding wheels.

So, after zirconium wheels, next is going to be silicon carbide, and even though that is a next step up, typically those are used only for irons, cast iron or chilled iron, kind of application-specific abrasive for those materials. Again, the advantage is higher metal removal rate versus a zirconium wheel or a zirconium flap disc like this.

The last is going to be, and these are more prevalent these days, and these are ceramic abrasives. Lots of selection. This is for sure the latest technology in this realm, and even though initially that abrasive was initially designed for precision grinding, it's now been adapted into all kinds of flap disc and cut-off discs for higher performance, and there again, as performance goes up, typically costs goes up, so you're going to need to measure, again, metal removal rate with your abrasive selection.

The other thing more specifically about ceramic abrasive is it's very, very useful when grinding aluminum and stainless steel, because those materials tend to build up a little quicker than carbon steel. And so, if grinding aluminum or stainless steel, ceramic is for sure the best selection.

Whether you choose aluminum oxide or you choose ceramic or anywhere in between, it's going to impact your metal removal rate just as grit selection will do as well.

Thanks for watching this edition of Grainger Ask the Experts. For more helpful tips and videos, check out the full series.


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