Commercial and industrial sectors use many abrasive materials, in particular grinding discs. These discs contain several abrasive elements.Which can result in effective removal of material from the surfaces including hard-wearing materials. Such as cast, forged, various ferrous and non-ferrous metals & alloys. This is why abrasive discs are often important within foundries and similar production facilities. Of course, there are many different types of discs to choose from. For the sake of this article, we will take a look at the discs that are used within foundries as well as some of their unique applications.
In metal working choosing the right abrasive disc for the job is not as easy as it sounds.Careful consideration should be taken into account to optimize productivity, finish and cost.
Choosing the right type of abrasive disc will help you cut through your next big job. According to CNDOME Metalworking Specialist,selecting the right disc will depend on the type of performance you’re looking for. The cutting disc needs to be made of an abrasive suited to slicing through the stock you’re working with and it needs to be bound with a material that can hold up to the stresses of the job. The grit rating also has to offer the right combination of cutting speed and smoothness.
Every job is different. What works for one grinding or finishing job may not work for another. Issues like loading, cut-rate and operator fatigue will all impact the productivity of the operation. Choosing the right disc is critical for success.
Selecting an Appropriate Abrasive: Minerals are what make up the abrasive.  Abrasives are what do the work of creating the scratch and removing the stock.  Choosing the right mineral composition will drastically affect how the application is performed.  Also cost is a factor when selecting the type of mineral for the disc.  Below is some of the common abrasive minerals used in today’s abrasives.

Abrasive materials do the cutting, and each type of abrasive offers a different balance of cost, durability, and performance. Let’s start by looking at the four most common abrasive materials:
Aluminum Oxide: Versatile, inexpensive and durable, aluminum oxide is a good go-to abrasive for everyday jobs. Aluminum oxide will cut through steel, as well as softer metals like brass, annealed iron, and steel alloys. The material’s primary drawback is its relatively slow cutting speed—according to abrasive manufacturer Norton, at a microscopic level, aluminum oxide grit tends to wear into dull, rounded fragments, which have a limited bite.Not the oldest, but probably the widest used abrasive mineral.  Its cost and availability makes it a good choice for most compositions.  One of its benefits is when the abrasive fractures during use it fractures into sharper pieces until it finally wears down.
Zirconia Alumina: A mix of aluminum oxide and zirconium oxide, this abrasive is durable and fast. Zirconia is a naturally occurring mineral with extremely high fracture toughness, which produces a high metal removal rate when cutting through hardened materials like tempered steel. Zirconia also offers superior heat dissipation, which can be important when cutting through thick steel plate.A mineral that combines the sharpness and cutting power similar to silicon carbide but fractures to a sharp edge as it wears.
Silicon Carbide: This super sharp abrasive makes quick work of soft materials. Silicon carbide naturally has a very sharp edged grain. The cutting material microscopically fractures as it wears, creating new razor-edged cutting faces throughout the wheel’s life. Unfortunately, silicon is not as durable as other abrasives—it’s best suited for soft metals like aluminum, iron, brass, and soft bronze.Starts out very sharp and cuts well, but wears quickly and doesn’t always fracture cleanly with sharp edges that do the cutting.
Ceramic Aluminum Oxide: An industrial-duty aluminum oxide. Available in medium, coarse, and extremely coarse grits.A rugged abrasive best suited for heavy metal removal.Ceramic wheels are extremely durable and versatile. This abrasive is made by heating aluminum oxide in a kiln, a process known as sintering. According to ceramics manufacturer Syalons, the sintering process fuses the aluminum oxide into a crystalline structure, which increases the alumina’s hardness and durability. Abrasive ceramics are designed to microfracture in a controlled manner. The glass-like ceramic aluminum oxide grains continuously shatter as they cuts, keeping the cutting edge sharp.This is a technology that combines one or more mineral with ceramic bits to provide a very durable cutting combination and heat resistance.  They are typically designed to be the best of both worlds, long lasting, and high cut rates.
Ceramic cutting wheels also have excellent refractory properties, which according ceramics manufacturer Accuratus, makes them resistant to deformation under heat and stress. And they aren’t as affected by the buildup of material that can slow down aluminum cutting. Due to higher production costs, ceramic wheels were once reserved for detail work. But improvements in manufacturing have made this abrasive an increasingly popular choice for all purpose grinding and cut-off wheels.
Diamond: The hardest mineral in the world, diamond abrasives offer an unmatched combination of durability and cutting speed. Super abrasive diamond cutting wheels use synthetic diamond crystals that are manufactured specifically for use in cutting applications. The shape and size of the diamond crystals in the wheel are tightly controlled for consistency.
Masonry: Cutting through stone and concrete presents a unique challenge. Masonry can be hard but brittle, so masonry grinding wheels are specially designed to make smooth cuts that won’t shatter the edge of the stonework and create a ragged burred edge. Diamonds are the most commonly used abrasive in masonry wheels.
The Concrete Network recommends choosing a masonry wheel suited to the hardness of the concrete you’re cutting. Concrete made with quartz or basalt aggregate will have much higher compressive strength than concrete made with pea gravel. Cutting through harder concrete requires a wheel with a softer bond, which will constantly expose new abrasives.
The Grit Tradeoff: Once you’ve decided on an abrasive, you’ll need to pick a abrasive disc with the right grit. Grit refers to the size of the abrasive particles embedded in the wheel—a coarse 10 grit wheel uses abrasive particles that were sifted through a screen with ten holes per linear inch, whereas a 120 grit wheel uses finer abrasive particles that have been passed through a screen with 120 holes per inch.A fairly new invention of creating the abrasive that is a uniform version of a ceramic blend that also has characteristics to fracture into similar points throughout the discs life.
According to Modern Machine Shop, a coarser grit wheel offers a high metal removal rate—its big abrasive particles will rip off larger chunks of metal with every pass. Coarse grit makes a quicker cut, but it can leave a rough finish. A fine grit wheel may take longer to do the job, but if you need a smooth finish, it’s worth the wait. Also, if you’re cutting through a brittle metal or a friable material like stone, using a finer grit can minimize chipping and give you a cleaner face.
Bond and Spacing: The grinding wheel’s/strong> bonding material and spacing pattern will also affect its performance. The abrasive particles are held in place by a bonding matrix, and the hardness of the bonding material can make a big difference in the wheel’s lifespan.
Hard vitrified bonding materials are extremely durable, but that limits the rate at which fresh abrasive grit is exposed on the cutting face. They tend to offer a slower metal removal rate, making them well suited to detail work or cutting softer alloys.
A soft bonding matrix will wear away quickly, exposing fresh abrasive and increasing the metal removal rate. But these wheels have a shorter lifespan, and they may not be suitable for use with high powered grinders. They are, however, much more effective when working on hard metals like tool steel.
Ultimately, the right type of abrasive disc is going to offer a solid combination of cutting speed and durability at a price that makes sense for you. Sometimes you’ll be buying a wheel for a specific job, and it will be easy to know what properties to look for. Other shops may want to keep a variety of wheels on hand—you never know what you’ll be cutting next. Whatever kind of cutting job you’re preparing for, set up for success by choosing the right type of grinding wheel.
Identify the application
This can be simple, but sometimes key differences in requirements can be overlooked.  Some of the most common applications are stock removal, weld-prep, post-weld grinding, cutting, blending, and final finishing.
Let’s dive into the first three, stock removal, weld-prep, and post-weld grinding.  All these applications require a disc that can perform well under high-pressure use.  The minerals and construction of the disc must be such to give a good balance of durability while still abrading the metal for dimension purposes.
With blending and final finishing the requirements expected from the disc are much different. When blending a good cut rate while minimizing heat transfer from the disc to the material can be critical. These applications are typically low pressure with less stock removal and a focus on refining a scratch pattern.  It all comes back to the mineral choice and disc construction.
Types of Metalworking Abrasive Discs
Metalworking discs come in all kinds of forms.  However, they can fall into two main categories, bonded, coated and non-woven.
Bonded Abrasive Discs
Bonded discs are just like they sound.The mineral, binding agent and some type of reinforcement material are fused together to form a hard disc.
Coated Abrasive Discs
Coated discs are just like they sound as well.  The mineral is coated onto a backing using some sort of resin, much like a glue.  These combined allow for a durable but also flexible type of disc in many forms.  The flexibility of manufacturing coated abrasives allow them to come in many different forms.  Not just discs.
Non-Woven Abrasive Discs
These types of discs are made up of a fibrous material that the abrasive minerals are adhered to with a resin, similar to a coated disc, but in a more random pattern.  These offer great conform-ability, flexibility with minimal stock removal and work great for a cleaning action as well as adding a grain pattern to the work piece.
If your aim is to cut through metal, Cutting Discs are the best attachment for your angle grinder. Cuttings discs are expendable tools used on angle grinders for cutting steel, stainless steel, aluminium and other metal alloys.  Made from fiberglass reinforcing net, organic resins and abrasive material, formed under heat and pressure, some wheels cut faster than others. All of the components used in the manufacture of the wheel, as well as how it is made can influence cut rate and consumable life. Aluminium oxide and zirconia grain are the most popular and provide toughness and good performance for cutting on steel.
Cutting discs are available in different thicknesses, and the type of wheel you select depends on the type, shape and thickness of the steel that needs to be cut. For standard everyday jobs on either stainless or mild steel using an angle grinder, choose a 1mm or 1.6mm thickness in your disc. For projects that involve thin metal such as sheet metal, choose a 1.0mm or 0.8mm thinner cutting disc.  These thinner discs will sheet metal faster and as such, minimise discoloration and leave less work in the clean-up of the surface of the metal once you’re done. For heavier steel cutting jobs where you need to cut through a significant thickness of metal, select a 1.6mm or 2.5mm thickness of cutting disc. However, it is important to note that thicker wheels cut slower and generate more friction and heat through the cut.
CNDOME supply Cut Off Wheels in INOX grade which means they contain no iron (Fe) and therefore are perfect for use on both mild and stainless steel. They are available in 3” 75mm / 4” 100mm / 4.5” 115mm / 5” 125mm / 7” 180mm / 9” 230mm / 14” 350mm / 16” 400mm. We also sell our cutting discs in a variety of thicknesses to suit a range of steel fabrication projects – for example, in our popular 5” / 125mm Cutting wheel we have 4 different thicknesses: 0.8mm, 1.0mm, 1.6mm, and 2.5mm. So tell me what materials you are cutting and let me give you more customization options.