A flapper sanding wheel, or simply known as the flap wheel, is an abrasive disc made of multiple overlapping abrasive sheets connected to a core. Flap wheels can be used for a variety of metal applications, including fabricating, cleaning, deburring, polishing and finishing.
The sheets of the flap wheels are bound to wear away as they are constantly exposing fresh abrasive coating during jobs to create a nice, even finish. From how the tool is constructed, it is not hard to notice that each grip flap contacts the workpiece at a slightly different angle in order to avoid scratching the surface of the work piece.
The flapper sanding wheels are also designed to conform to the shape of the workpiece, which is why they especially excel at finishing workpieces with complex shapes and tight contours.
Machine tools like the drills, grinders, wrenches or other handheld rotary tools are typically used complementary to flapper sanding wheels. They are often either pre-mounted on a central hub, or unmounted for more compatible attachment.
The flap wheels are very helpful and commonly used tools for mainly metal finishing. They are quite advantageous as opposed to the traditional discs because:
1. Each separate and overlapping flap is able to conform to the workpiece surface perfectly at different angle; this can vary slightly based on tool angle. This means that flap wheels are inherently able to prevent common problem pertaining to flat sheets, where identical scratches may be produced repeatedly.
2. Abrasive wear is typically distributed uniformly across the flaps, as well as through each flap length. Even though the flaps are bound to wear with time, the wear starts from the outer ends and cuts back on the sheet carrier as the abrasive coating is worn away. This allows the flapper wheels to remain useful at least for as long as the flaps are not completely eroded. This is also why flap wheels are deemed to outperform flat sheets because flat sheets are often discarded immediately after a small area of abrasive is worn-out, making the flap wheels the more preferred and efficient choice.
Other advantages of the flapper sanding wheels include the fact that they are lightweight, easy to use and control, and capable of prolonged use before a product change as mentioned above. They also produce less vibration, the resulting fatigue, as well as less noise.
Flap wheels are no doubt favored by many operators, and it is important for everyone along the lines of the related work to know how to select the right flap wheels in correlation to the intended metal applications. Here are some of the selection tips:
● Flap Shape: Picking the right flap disc shape for your flap wheel is very important. Different shapes of flap disc (e.g., conical, flat, etc.) all play a role in their unique applications to ensure optimal performance.
For example, conical shaped flap wheels are best suited for aggressive stock removal. The discs are designed with the angle needed for both contoured and edge work. The angles provide superb surface contact for effective stock removal on flat surface. Conical flap discs are indeed the best choice when it comes to speed advantage and stock removing purposes. Furthermore, other kinds of flap disc, such as the flat shaped flaps, are better for metal finishing tasks to enable smooth surface finishing.
● Flat Disc Backing Plate Material: Another major fact is to determine the type of backing plate you should use for your flap wheel. Note that flaps discs are essentially of two complementary parts: a robust backing plate and the abrasive flaps that are attached on the plate. Here are the three types of backing plate:
1. Fiberglass backing plates: These excel at absorbing vibration and are consumed during use. Fiber glass in fact the most popular material for backing plate due to its superb strength and light weight.
2. Plastic backing plates: Plastic is an emerging backing plate material because of the trimmable nature. This allows additional applications, such as blending and finishing.
3. Aluminum backing plates: These more or less belong to niche application that requires additional strength and support. Although aluminum plates can be recycled, they are by far the least popular type.
● Flap Density:
The density of the abrasive flaps is referred to as the quantity, spacing and angle of the flaps on the backing plate. It is imperative that the flap density is matched to the intended application in order to achieve the optimal result.
● Grit Selection:
The last thing you should consider is the type and size of the grit. For instance, ceramic aluminum grit typically enables the fastest cut, especially on stainless steel; Zirconia aluminum grit is known for the decent cut rate to cost ratio, making it the best choice for carbon and mild steel cutting; Aluminum oxide grit on the other hand is better suited for smaller jobs. Lastly, once you decide the type of grit, choose a size that is best suited for your intended application.
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