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What to Consider When Shopping for a Grinding Wheel

When it comes to grinding applications in metalworking, you will find a wide variety of products to choose from. Choosing the wrong one can easily cost you time and money, so make sure you’ve covered everything before making that purchase.

When looking to buy a grinding wheel in particular, first consider the material that you intend to use it on. This will clue you in on the best type of abrasive for the wheel.

For steels and steel alloys, for instance, aluminum oxide or zirconia alumina works great. Non-ferrous metals and cast iron, along with non-metals, are best ground using a silicon carbide abrasive.

A wheel with fine grits and a softer grade is usually used for hard but brittle materials. Hard materials counteract the penetration of abrasive grains, and that makes them dull pretty fast.

In other words, when you combine a finer grit and a softer grade, fresh and sharp cutting points become available as the abrasive grains become dull and separate. If the material you want to grind is ductile and easily penetrable, you should go for a wheel with a coarse grit and a hard grade.

Another consideration for buying a grinding wheel is the amount of stock to be taken out. With coarser grits, penetration is deeper and cuts are heavier, which means stock removal is quicker as well. But if it’s too hard to penetrate through the material, you can go for a slightly finer grit wheel, which tends to cut faster as there are more cutting points that will do the job.

Faster cuts can be achieved using a wheel with vitrified bonds. For higher finish requirements or to remove a minimum of stock, rubber, shellac or resin bonds work best.

When picking a wheel bond, also consider the wheel speed in operation. The maximum speed for vitrified wheels is 6,500 surface feet per minute; any faster and the bond may break. Organic bond wheels are often the choice between 6,500 and 9,500 surface feet per minute.

For higher speeds, customized wheels are needed. Whatever the case, always check the safe operating speed – usually in rpm or sfm – indicated on the wheel or its blotter, and make it a point never to go beyond it.

Before buying a grinding wheel, also check the grinding area of contact between it and the material to be ground. A bigger area will necessitate a softer grade and a coarser grit, if only to ensure free gliding cutting action. Now check the grinding action severity (how much pressure is keeping the wheel and the material together). Take note that some abrasives can withstand more severe grinding conditions than others.

Finally, look into the grinding wheel’s horsepower. Higher grade wheels typically go with higher-horsepower machines. If wheel diameter is greater than horsepower, it is best to use a softer-grade wheel. Otherwise, get a wheel with a higher grade.

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