Fiber Discs

Introduction

The fiber discs are also called the vulcanized fiber discs or the sanding discs. The fiber discs are the thin circular abrasive discs that are used for removing material, light defects, corrosion, paint and rust from the surface of a piece of work such as wood, metal, or plastic. A fiber disc is attached to a disc sander, an angle grinder or other types of power hand tools to remove the material from a component. Once the disc is attached, a worker can turn on the rotary hand tool to grind the surface of a work piece.

To remove the surface material of a work piece, the spinning fiber disc will be placed against the surface of the work piece. During the grinding process, the operation is controlled by the worker as he or she can monitor the process closely at all time. The coarse grit on the fiber disc can remove welds, mill marks, tool marks or even out rough edges. Based on the texture of the grit, the fiber discs can be further divided into types. Coarse or fine, the fiber discs can be used to achieve these purposes. 


Anatomy of the fiber disc

There are only two parts on a fiber disc: the sanding surface and the backing pad. The sanding surface is the part that actually contacts the work pieces. On the sanding surface, there are grits, or grains, that form the rough surface. When the fiber disc is spinning at a high speed, the tiny yet rigid grits cut the surface material of a work piece into countless tiny pieces of dust-like shred. There are fiber discs with finer grits which are used in more delicate and sophisticated grinding operations. Typically speaking, the finer the grits are, the thinner the layer that is removed from the work piece is.

The backing pad can be made of different materials from soft cloth or paper to vulcanized fiber backing. Strictly speaking, the backing pad is not a part of a fiber disc, but the backing pad is definitely required to mount a fiber disc to the power hand tool. The backing pad serves as a support to connect the fiber disc to the grinder. The backing pads are consumables which need to be replaced periodically or when they are obviously worn out. The materials used to make the backing pads include cloth, fiber, film, paper, or non-woven materials.

The fiber discs can be used in sanding, grinding, polishing, finishing and surface preparation applications. Depending on the constructions, the non-woven surface conditioning discs can be used in both wet and dry grinding, cleaning and polishing. There is a limitation to the working speed of the grinders. The maximum operating speed for fiber discs is 80 m/s. The adaptability of fiber discs can be enhanced profoundly by combining a wide range of grain types and backing pads. Based on the materials of the fiber discs, there are aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, and super abrasive discs.


Aluminum oxide discs

The aluminum oxide discs are one of the most common types of discs. They have excellent hardness, strength, and they usually come with low cost comparing to other disc types. The aluminum oxide discs are applicable because they have low heat retention. They are frequently fused with chemical additions to titanium oxide or chromium oxide to enhance the abrasive uses. The titanium oxide discs can toughen the abrasive and enable further performance enhancement by grain heating treating processes. The aluminum based discs are the ceramic abrasives which are considered the next generation of abrasives which are widely applied in metal working applications.


Silicon carbide discs

The key advantages of the silicon carbide discs are the durability and low cost. The silicon carbide discs were first introduced in the late 1800s. The silicon carbide discs are generally harder than the aluminum oxide abrasives. However, they are more friable than the aluminum oxide grains at the same time. This type of abrasive is not ideal for grinding steel or ferrous based alloys, especially in coarser grit sizes. As a result, the silicon carbide abrasives are used mainly for grinding non-ferrous metals such as brass, aluminum and titanium, or the non-metal materials such as stone, glass, wood, or leather.


Super abrasive discs

This type of disc includes diamond and cubic boron nitride. The super abrasive diamond discs have the highest level of hardness among all types of fiber discs. They are not useful in grinding steel or ferrous alloys as well because the carbon dissolves or reacts with iron. Their strength lies in ferrous polishing or lapping applications where heat and reactivity are not a factor. The super abrasive discs can be used in grinding non-ferrous metals, ceramics, stone and building materials. On the other hand, the cubic boron nitride abrasives are excellent in working with ferrous metals.


Resin fiber discs

The resin fiber discs (RFDs) are ideal for grinding tool steel or aluminum. This type of fiber disc is made particularly for metal fabrication related applications where demanding operations are involved. In such applications, the right angle grinders are primarily used and with the right resin fiber discs, they are the best tools for grinding work pieces made of metal such as hardened steel or soft alloys. The resin fiber discs are usually made of raw materials and they come with several advantages.

The grains on the surface of a resin fiber disc are able to provide the maximum cut rate on metal work pieces. The backing of a resin fiber discs is made from vulcanized fiber which makes the RFDs suitable for heavy duty grinding applications. The loading, glazing and grain stripping are minimized. In addition, there is the spiral molded backing design which promotes the airflow during operation so that the working temperature can be effectively reduced.

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