Abrasive Materials for Sanding
Depending on the purpose of the sanding process, the selection of the abrasive material is essential for a good result. In using the wrong type of abrasive material, we’d not only be making a useless effort, but also exposing the piece to be finished to a great risk of damage. If choosing the most suitable type of abrasive material, we may actually achieve an impressive final result with any finished product.
When it comes to the composition of sandpapers (undoubtedly the most common type of media for abrasive materials applied on sanding machines), the backing is also important. While the most common type of backing is cloth (particularly polyester or cotton), other specific materials are employed, such as fiber or vulcanized fiber (used for strong and intensive sanding) or PET film. While a flexible backing is essential to delicate works such as irregular rounded contours of some pieces, a strong and inflexible backing is required for plane and larger surfaces.
Common abrasive materials for sanding:
- Silica sand: Although not so common in current sanding processes, the silica sand was the most basic abrasive material used for this type of finishing.
- Garnet: Garnet sand is widely used in woodworking and to provide a high quality finishing to furniture and small wooden pieces.
- Emery: composed of a mineral compound which makes emery a very strong abrasive, this substance is used almost exclusively for sanding, being very suitable to abrade and polish metal pieces.
- Silicon carbide: one of the most variable abrasion materials when it comes to grit size. It’s most used in wet applications.
- Aluminum oxide: suitable for both wood and metal abrasion, it also may be found from very coarse grits to micro grits.
- Ceramic aluminum oxide: Known by the brand name Cubitron, it’s a registered trademark of 3M Corp. Used in coated and bonded abrasives, it’s a sol gel ceramic grain. It’s a very strong abrasive, designed to resist continued use.
We may also find specific abrasive materials, which are suited for particular uses. One clear example is the diamond sandpaper, which is one of the most abrasive papers ever.
Some sandpapers may be also stearated with a dry lubricant. This type of abrasive may be very useful in sanding coats of paint or finish.