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Why Superabrasives? A Guide for Manufacturers

The jewelry industry would have you believe that diamonds are a rare commodity. Except that this isn’t quite the case. In 2016 about 128 million carats were produced from mines.

Many of these diamonds never make it to the jewelry industry. Only diamonds that meet certain standards are considered gem quality. 

That doesn’t discredit diamonds that aren’t gem quality. These diamonds are just as strong. They go on to be put to use in the manufacturing industry as the main components in superabrasives. 

What Are Superabrasives?

Superabrasives come in the form of grinding wheels and are used when the material being processed is either too hard or too delicate for regular abrasives. 

Industrial diamonds are one of the most common materials used to create the grinding material. Contrary to popular belief, diamonds are not as rare as marketing campaigns will tell you. 

Industrial diamonds are not gem quality and usually quite small. They will have visual defects that make them not “pretty enough” to be used in jewelry. 

After diamonds, cubic boron nitride is the second more durable material for cutting. This is followed by polycrystalline. 

Synthetic diamonds are also used and fall next on the strength list. These diamonds grow out of a hydrocarbon gas mixture. 

The final most common material used for superabrasives is nanodiamonds. To get these diamonds a controlled explosion is set off. 

Industries Using Superabrasives

While the list of industries that use superabrasives is extensive. There are a few industries that are known for being heavy users. 

  • Oil industry 
  • medical 
  • aerospace 
  • composites 
  • automotive 
  • electronics 

These industries typically manufacture with delicate materials like silicone or very hard materials like metals. 

Advantages 

The most obvious advantage is that these grinding wheels are extremely hard and durable. This allows them to give better performance and greater longevity over regular abrasives. 

When your wheel lasts longer you will see reduced costs for fixtures and tooling. This opens up your budget up to investing in more machines. 

You will notice that the wear and cuts on your materials will be even. Because the abrasiveness of the wheel is so strong, it doesn’t develop uneven worn away spots as quickly as regular abrasive wheels. 

So the output from your production will be consistent. So your manufacturing efforts will produce reliable and consistent results. 

How They Compare to Regular Abrasives 

Regular abrasive wheels use substances that are not nearly as durable. Instead of using diamond as the main abrasive, they use a softer natural grain. 

This results in needing more dressing and more wheel replacements. How long is your production down to replace a wheel every time your regular abrasive wheel wears out? 

Now think about how many times you have to replace the wheel. This total time adds up to a huge hindrance on your production capabilities. 

What to Consider When Buying a Superabrasive Wheel

You need to consider the finish that you want the part to have. You also need to think about the geometry of the part. 

Finish

The smoother and finer the finish you want, the finer the grit will need to be on your wheel. A rougher grit is used for putting in the heavy lifting for grinding away. 

Material

You also need to think about the material that your parts are made out of. Typically, diamonds as the abrasive material are used for non-ferrous and non-metical materials.

If your parts are metal then CBN is commonly used. There are also some materials that can cross over and be used with both diamonds and CBN. 

Geometry

Look at the geometry and makeup of the parts you produce. Consider the bond type, grade, and concentration. 

Single Bond

A wheel with a single bond is perfect for high stock removal on a form that is complex. 

Metal Bond

If you need strong form holding and thermal conductivity then a wheel with a thermal bond is what you need. 

Resin Bond 

If you are looking to save money then a resin bond wheel is going to be the most cost effective for you. You can also achieve a high-quality finish with these wheels. 

Coolants 

As with any high friction grinding process, you need a coolant that will help keep the grinding area clear of debris and protect against heat buildup and chemical reactions. 

If you decide to use a CBN abrasive wheel then look for an oil-based fluid. Water-based lubricant has a low vaporization point. You also risk creating steam which will increase the oxidation rate of the CBN crystals on your wheel. 

Buying a Superabrasive Wheel

To review, use these seven factors when determining what grinding wheel is right for your production process. 

  1. Material you are working with and its hardness 
  2. Level of grinding
  3. Finish and level of accuracy you need on the finished product
  4. Surface area of contact for grinding 
  5. The wheel speed 
  6. Are you doing wet or dry grinding?
  7. What is the horsepower of your grinding machine 

When you work through these seen factors and determine that a superabrasive grinding wheel is a way to go, there is one more thing you need to check. Confirm that your machine is strong enough to support the superabrasive wheel. 

Purchase Superabrasives for Your Manufacturing Today 

It can be tough to justify the upfront increased costs of superabrasive wheels. But the durability and quality of their production output make them well worth it. 

But you’ll quickly realize that your productivity has increased by using superabrasives. You will have more parts processed per wheel and fewer wheel changes.  

Contact us today and we can help you spec out the right superabrasives for your manufacturing needs.