April 04, 2022

Specialty Powders for Specialty Cutting & Grinding Applications

From the initial shaping of raw materials to the finishing of products, abrasives are a fundamental tool throughout a wide range of industries. As a result, a huge number of different abrasive materials exist, with physical and chemical properties tuned to suit applications ranging from sandblasting to specialty cutting.1 

One of the most important properties of any abrasive is its hardness – or, more specifically, the difference in hardness between the abrasive and the material it is used to abrade. Just as silicate glass can be scratched by diamond, even materials that we think of as very hard can be effectively worn away by even harder abrasive materials. 

Flint and garnet are probably the most common naturally-occurring abrasives used worldwide. While only moderately hard, these minerals offer the significant advantage of being abundant and therefore inexpensive. Both make ideal candidates for blasting, waterjet and sandpaper applications – however, the relatively low hardness of these materials generally limits them to low-precision applications and abrasion of softer materials. 

Another common abrasive, brown fused alumina (BFA) is much harder than flint and garnet but is still relatively inexpensive to produce in bulk. Low cost and compatibility with a wide range of processes make this a very popular commodity abrasive, and it is typically used for abrading metals such as iron, steel, and bronze. 

High-performance Abrasives for Specialty Cutting Applications 

While commodity abrasives such as BFA are capable of abrading a wide range of materials, stronger materials – such as carbon steel, stainless steel and specialty alloys – call for much harder and more resilient abrasives. 

Choosing the right abrasive in industrial applications is crucial: it impacts the cost, speed, and energy efficiency of processing; and directly influences the quality of finished products. While inexpensive by weight, commodity abrasive grains such as BPA cannot stand up to the extreme wear and high temperatures produced by heavy-duty applications like specialty cutting and grinding. For specialty cutting and grinding applications, opting for a cheaper abrasive can result in higher overall costs and much worse performance. 

Saint-Gobain produces a full range of high-performance abrasive grains and powders, engineered for specialty cutting and grinding. As well as extremely high hardness and resilience, Saint-Gobain’s specialty cutting grains provide unparalleled sharpness and material removal rates, helping them make industrial processes significantly more energy efficient. Our aggressive grains are suitable for precise specialty cutting and finishing of virtually any materials, from softer alloys right through to hardened high-carbon steels. 

Saint-Gobain Powders for Specialty Cutting and Grinding 

Specialty cutting and grinding applications demand both precision and resilience. We produce a number of grains engineered to give reliable high performance in these applications. 

Manufactured at our production facility in China, our MA88® monocrystalline alumina is a high-performance abrasive produced by electrofusion of high purity alumina. Each particle is a single crystal: this means strong, sharp edges that contribute to better bonding and sharper cutting action in specialty cutting applications. 

Our seeded-gel products (including Cerpass XTL®, Cerpass DGE® and Cerpass TGE®) feature a unique microstructure: these grains are designed to fracture as grinding progresses, exposing fresh, sharp cutting edges and producing long-lasting aggressive cutting action.2 Cerpass grains are ideally suited to organic and vitrified bond systems, tough-to-grind applications and low-force applications.  

Looking to find the optimum abrasive for your specialty cutting or grinding application? We can help. Get in touch with a member of the Saint-Gobain team today for guidance and information on our range of world-leading abrasive grains. 


References and Further Reading 

1. Jackson, M. J. & Hitchiner, M. P. Abrasive Tools and Bonding Systems. in Machining with Abrasives (eds. Jackson, M. J. & Davim, J. P.) 1–77 (Springer US, 2011). doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-7302-3_1. 

2. Lindsay, R. P. The Performance of Seeded Gel Abrasives in the Laboratory and at Customer Test Sites. Aircraft Eng & Aerospace Tech 61, 20–26 (1989).