Selecting Abrasives for Welding and Metal Fabrication

Selecting the right abrasive and using that abrasive correctly for welding and metal fabrication applications can make a big the difference in maximizing output and minimizing cost. Still, with today’s tight deadlines it’s often tempting to use whatever abrasive is handy, without stopping to consider which abrasive product is best for the particular machine being used. Use the right abrasive and wheel for better finished products, reduced costs, and better productivity.

Selecting abrasives that make the grade

It is important to realize that abrasive products come in various grades, which some manufacturers designate as good, better and best. Metal fabricators who measure total grinding results and want to achieve the lowest overall grinding cost for an application will seriously consider the “best” abrasive products available and reserve the use of “better” abrasives for high productivity applications, where only abrasive costs are important. End users wanting the lowest initial abrasive costs are likely to select “good” abrasives, but should understand that such a choice may not be as economical in the long run.

Metalworking companies that want to measure total grinding results can work with their abrasive supplier to test and compare abrasives of various grades, or alternative products from different manufacturers. Such tests, performed in a metalworker’s own shop, will reveal relative abrasive cost based on initial cost and wear rate, and can even measure overall worker productivity in terms of worker’s wages. Then, relative abrasive cost can be added to the operator cost to determine the total grinding cost. What such tests typically show is that the most advanced (“best”) abrasive products usually last longer, work faster and may be the most cost-effective choice.


On centerless grinders, rubber-bonded rollers are used as control wheels. For certain workpieces, polyurethane-bonded wheels can be used as abrasive media to achieve the required material abrasion.

The Process Design

When creating a work procedure for a job that centers around the use of ceramic abrasives, a fabricator focuses on factors such as process duration and feed rate. All of these have to be reconsidered and appropriately tested when elastic-bonded abrasives are introduced to the finishing process.

The feed rate is the variable with the greatest influence. The force level is defined by this parameter, and this is of essential importance for the working results gained with elastic-bonded abrasives.

Because of the elasticity of an elastic-bonded abrasive wheel, a fabricator has to take into account a specific minimum force that has to be exceeded during the finishing process. The entire system has to be sufficiently braced to ensure suitable finishing results.