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18 March, 2021

Best Types of Flap Discs for Metal

Flap discs have surged in popularity over the last few decades in metal fabrication and it is not difficult to see why. A low cost all in one product that can provide grinding, deburring, rust removal, blending and finishing across various applications.  This article looks at why flap discs are used for metal work along with which products are best to use to achieve your desired results.  If you already know what you are looking for, why not take a look at our flap discs range and check out the latest high performance ceramic flap discs and what they can offer you.  Alternatively have a read of our recommendations and get some ideas for your project.

Why use flap discs for grinding and finishing metal?

Flap discs have a superior design for grinding and finishing metal.  Once one layer is used, the layer falls away revealing a fresh cutting edge all the time.  Not only does this multi-layer design make them longer lasting products it means a smoother finish and more consistent results can be achieved during metal work.  Flap discs support cooler cutting so less gouging occurs during grinding.  Flap discs can grind and finish also so they are more convenient.  They are also more lightweight making work more comfortable for the operator.

Ceramic vs zirconia vs aluminium oxide flap discs: which can be used on which metal?

Aluminium oxide flap discs contain iron so they can contaminate metals such as aluminium and steel.  They can be used on alloys, but aluminium oxide flap discs are cheap and do not last long so we would not recommend them for metal work.  We no longer stock them as a result.

Zirconia flap discs used to be the most popular choice for grinding steel and while they can still be used on steel, ceramic flap discs are a much better option.  Ceramic flap discs deliver the best results compared to all other grits, plus they are longer lasting and can be used on all metals including aluminium.

Best flap discs for grinding metal

For heavy stock removal 40 grit flap discs would achieve the best outcome.  The angle of conical shaped flap discs helps with speedy and comfortable material removal so those flap discs would be recommended for grinding metal.

Best flap disc for deburring/blending

For blending a 60 or 80 grit flap disc would be your best choice.  A flat head flap disc would also be most suited.

Best flap discs for finishing metal

For finishing and sanding metal, a 120-grit flap disc could be your best option.  Flat head flap discs best suit the purpose of finishing metal.

Can flap discs be used on aluminium?

It may seem odd to question whether flap discs can be used on aluminium when flap discs are designed primarily for grinding steel.  But aluminium is a lightweight and softer metal that has its own considerations.  Aluminium has a lower melting point compared to stronger metals such as steel and as a result it heats up quicker.  To ensure you do not burn through and damage your aluminium you need to be careful what products you choose.

Our FSC flap discs are ideal for grinding aluminium as the cotton backing breaks down more consistently offering a controlled cut.  Alternatively if you need to grind high amounts of aluminium then the Ultimate Cibo Ceramics discs will give high cut rates and a cooler grinding action to make sure the disc keeps cutting quickly.

Which flap discs for aluminium?

There are three types of abrasive grit flap discs – aluminium oxide, zirconia and ceramic. That is the worst to best order in regard to which flap disc you should use when treating aluminium. Aluminium oxide flap discs will melt the aluminium and clog up the flap disc, making them far from ideal an option.  Zirconia flap discs with a heavy-duty cloth backing run a similar risk, they cause the metal to plasticise and again clog up the disc.  The FTC Cibo Ceramic flap discs offer cool cutting and are designed for use on materials such as aluminium.  They will not clog like the other grits.  It is important to note however that when using a flap disc on aluminium, while the disc could be used on other metals such as steel, contamination of aluminium can occur if you use the disc on the other metal types.  It is best to take extra consideration when working with aluminium.

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