FEPA represents four (4) European abrasive segments : bonded, coated, grains and superabrasives
Bonded abrasives are a mixture of abrasive grains, fillers and bonding materials. The bonding agent can be vitreous: resin, rubber, shellac, epoxy, magnesite and a range of bonding materials often referred to as a ‘plastic’. Each product is designed to give a specific finish, speed of cutting and stock removal or cutting requirements.
How it is used
Bonded abrasives can be used to cut-off and grind on different hand-held machines: angle grinders, petrol saws, straight grinder, vertical grinder.
Coated abrasives are made of a backing material, typically paper, woven cloth, cloth/paper combination, polyester film or vulcanised fibre, which is bonded to an abrasive grain.
How it is made
An initial ‘make’ coating of resin is applied to the backing, the chosen abrasive grain is then electro-coated onto the surface, followed by a second or ‘ size’ coating of resin to lock in the abrasive particles.
Following an oven cure, the resulting materials are converted into various forms, shapes and sizes of belts, rolls, discs or wheels to grind, deburr, finish, sand and polish products in a vast range of applications.
Superabrasives can refer to grinding, polishing, cutting, sawing or drilling tools manufactured, using diamond or cBN as the abrasive. These tools can process a wide variety of materials including ferrous and non-ferrous materials like stone, concrete and bricks.
Diamond or cBN abrasive can be held in several types of bond materials such as metal, resinoid, electroplated and vitrified. These tools have a broad spectrum of application.
Compared to conventional bonded abrasives, superabrasives have an extended lifetime as well as they cut and grind harder materials with relative ease.
The primary materials used are fused aluminium oxide, silicon carbide and alumina zirconia. All products are produced using substantial amounts of electrical energy. While for aluminium oxide, the principal raw materials are bauxite and alumina, for silicon carbide (SiC), it is is petroleum coke. Alumina zirconias are produced using variable amounts of alumina and zircon sands depending on the hardness and toughness of the abrasive grit requirements.
Products & Application
There are a wide range of grain products based on chemistry, particle size, grain shape and special treatments.
As well as being an integral part of the production of bonded and coated abrasives, grains are also used in other applications such as shot blasting, refractories and many general industrial applications, particularly for the flooring, lapping and polishing industries.
ABRASIVES and R&D
The cycle of R&D for abrasives is unusually long, when it can take years of development and testing to find more sustainable and performant alternatives to substances used in a product.
Because of this specificity, rules and regulations governing the abrasive industry to must be measured and scientifically-based where authorities give time (e.g. transition periods) and resources (e.g. R&D grants) to manufacturers to adapt.