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Abrasives Basics
30 March, 2015

Dictionary of Abrasive Terms


Aggression – The rate at which stock is removed from a substrate
Air Laying – A method of manufacture of nonwoven abrasives whereby the fibre is air blown, creating a random fleece structure
Airway Bias Mop –  A type of polishing mop constructed by cutting long lengths of material which are then wound around a central clinch ring such that multiple strip edges are shown to the workpiece.  It ensures a very consistent mop wear and reduces the ability of fibres to leave micro scratches in the surface of the workpiece
M14 Thread SUM Cotton Polishing Wheel for Finimaster ProAluminium Oxide – An abrasive grit manufactured from refined bauxite ore. The hardness is 9.4 on the MOH’s hardness scale
Alumino Silicate – A naturally occurring refractory material. The hardness is in the range 7 – 9 on the MOH’s hardness scale
Alumino Zirconia – A man made grit created from the fusion of Aluminium Oxide and Zirconium. It is approximately 10% harder than the hardest aluminium oxide abrasives.
Angle Grinder – A sanding disc machine with a m.o.s. above 50 m/s.  Designed to be used for aggressive grinding operations with bonded abrasives, flap discs and coarse sanding pads.  They can now also be supplied with a variable speed control unit which will increase the grinding and finishing performance on stainless steels and non-ferrous metals e.g. the Cibo Finipower
Anode – The positively charged electron. It is the electrode in electrolysis at which negatively charged ions,(anions) are discharged or positive charged ions are formed
Anodising – (Anionic Oxidation) It is the reverse process of electrolysis in which oxygen released at the anode results in the formation of a coherent oxide film which is adhered to the base metal, providing a degree of corrosion protection
Aqueous Manufacturing – The process of manufacturing nonwoven abrasives where the resin and grit is applied to the base fleece in a water based liquid


Backstand – An abrasive belt machine where the belt is mounted between a contact wheel on the motor spindle and an idler pulley
Bauxite – A naturally hydrated form of aluminium oxide abrasives, it normally contains silica, iron oxide, titania and other impurities
Beartex – Norton / ST Gobain brand name for nonwoven abrasives
Bias Mop – see airway bias mop
Binder – The adhesive used to bond together a product
Body + White – In automotive manufacturing it is a common term used to describe that part of the manufacturing process where the car panels are assembled together
Bonded Abrasives –  A general term used to describe grinding wheels and cutting discs and wheels.  Products are manufactured using a blend of abrasive grains, a binder system and various grinding aids which are bonded together under heat and pressure.
Briterite – Standard Abrasives brand name for nonwoven abrasives
Build Up Method – A method of manufacturing PCBs by laying epoxy resin and copper tracks on top of each other
Buffing – The smoothing of a surface by the use of a rotary flexible wheel (mop)
Burr – A small piece of material left attached to the surface of a substrate as a result of any cutting action on the substrate surface
Burst Speed – The speed at which a wheel or brush will break. Normally 1.5 x m.o.s.


Carding – The process of separating out individual fibres prior to the manufacture of nonwoven abrasives
Cathode – The negatively charged electrode. The electrode in electrolysis at which the positive ions (cations) are discharged or negative ions are formed
Centreless Polisher – A machine used for finishing tube in which the tube in which the tube is passed between a polishing head, wheel or belt and a feed roller. The feed roller is set at a slight angle to the axis of the material being finished so as to impart a forward motion to the tube.
Corundum – see Aluminium oxide
Coated Abrasives – Any abrasive product where a cloth, paper, film or vulcanised fibre has an abrasive grain bonded to the surface.  Typically this is by an electrostatic process.
Cross- laying – A method of manufacture for nonwoven abrasives whereby the fibre is laid along the main production line at 90° to the direction of the finished product
Convolute Wheel – An abrasive wheel made by winding fleece around a solid core and impregnating it with an additional strengthening resin system
Curing – The process of hardening resin using heat


De-burring – The process of removing burrs from a particular substrate
De-fuzzing – The process of removing fine hairs from the surface of wood or mdf
De-nibbing – The process of removing fine nibs off the surface of a painted/ coated surface


Electrolyte – A conducting medium, for use in electrolysis in which the flow of current is often accompanied by the movement of matter. It is most often an aqueous solution of acids, bases or salts
Emery – Naturally occurring abrasives containing aluminium oxide and various other compounds including silica and iron oxide. Hardness varies between 7.8 and 9 on MOH’s scale


Friability – The ability of an abrasive grain to breakdown and provide fresh cutting surfaces


Grind Ratio – The ratio of wear of a product to the quantity of a substrate in a given time


Hair Line – A term used in Japan for a straight line grain finishing of metal with abrasives


InOx – Stainless steel – a term used in continental Europe



Keying – The process of providing a finely scratched surface on a substrate such that a surface coating will adhere effectively


Lacquer – Originally this word was used to describe a coating material which dried primarily by evaporation to form a film and originally consisted of shellac or copal dissolved in alcohol. Nowadays it refers to many synthetic materials, which dry by solvent evaporation and would include many vinyl and acrylic coatings
Lap Mop – A series of discs of material stapled together such that the edge of the discs can then be presented to a workpiece
Lapping – A polishing process in which there is a relative motion between a soft surface in which the abrasives are bedded and the surface to be polished
Linisher – A common term for an abrasive belt machine
Loose leaf polishing mop – fixed at the centre and give a much finer finish when used with a polishing compound.  Excellent for getting into complex shapes.
Lost Wax Casting – The process of manufacturing a precision casting where a model of the finished product is made in wax then the wax model is then melted away to be replaced by the required metal


Make Coat – The first layer of adhesive on coated abrasive cloth upon which the grit is laid
M.O.S. –  Maximum Operating Speed- The fastest speed we would normally recommend a product can be run safely at


Nonwoven Abrasives – Flexible abrasives made from an open fleece nylon structure.


Open Coated – When the grain density of coated abrasives is reduced to increase the grain spacing and thus reduce clogging
Orange Peel – In surface technology it relates to a mottled uneven appearance on the surface of a coating, resembling the surface of an orange. It is most commonly caused by either excessive atomising air pressure in the spray gun or by the spray gun being held too far from the substrate


Pad Sander – A long abrasive belt machine with an overhead abrasive belt.  The abrasive belt grinding process is

applied to a workpiece with a pad applied to the rear of the belt.  See pic of Garboli Syrio pad sander)

Garboli Syrio flexible grain finishing machine

grain finishing and weld removal of stainless steel fabrications

Passivation – The process of protecting a metal surface from corrosion
PCB – Printed Circuit Board, also referred to as a Printed Wiring Board in Japan
Peening – A steel shot or glass bead blasting treatment applied to a metal surface to improve it’s metallurgical properties
Pickling – The process of cleaning metal in acid, usually for the purpose of removing scale or oxide
Pig Tail – A commonly used colloquial term for a tapered spindle
Plating – See Electroplating
Polishing compound – material applied to a surface which removes minor imperfections with minimal cutting action
Positive Lock Discs – A generic term for abrasives, discs attached to a mandrel by means of a locking screw thread
PSA – Pressure Sensitive Adhesive
PWB – Printed Wiring Board, also referred to as a Printed Circuit Board in Europe



Ra – Arithmetic mean roughness value
Rmax – Maximum individual peak to valley height
Rt – Maximum peak to valley height
Rz – Mean peak to valley height
Random Web – See Air Laying
Random Web Abrasives – An alternative term for nonwoven abrasives. Often used by 3M™
ROS – Recommended Operating Speed- The best speed at which to operate abrasive products.  n.b.  most abrasive products only display the MOS or maximum operating speed.  As a general guide the ROS is often between 50 and 75% of MOS.
Resinoid Products – Solid abrasive products. This term usually refers to grinding discs and cut off discs


Sander Polisher Machine – A disc sanding machine with a m.o.s. below 50m/s
Sateen – a gritted abrasive compound
Satin Finish – A term used for the straight line finishing of metals
Scotchbrite – 3M™ brand name for nonwovens
Section – Used in connection with bias mops and defines one length of material used in the manufacture of bias mops
Segmented Belts – Abrasive belts manufactured with more than one joint
Siavlies – Sia brand name for nonwoven abrasives
Silicon Carbide – An abrasive grit manufactured by the reduction of silica by excess carbon in an electric arc furnace. Hardness is 9.6 on MOH’s scale
Sisal – A natural fibre used for the manufacture of traditional abrasive cutting mops
Size Coat – The second layer of adhesive on coated abrasives cloth. It is used to increase the stability of the grains and vary the cutting properties of abrasives
Slack of Belt – A method of using abrasives where contact between a workpiece and the abrasive belt is made in an area where the belt has no support behind it
Smearing – Marks left on the surface of a substrate. It is normally caused by excessive heat build up.
Solvent Manufacturing – The process of manufacturing nonwoven abrasives where the resin and grit is applied to the base fleece in a solvent based liquid
SPC – Statistical Process Control. A method of analysing in a simple chart format changes in a process
Stitched Cotton Mop – the most common polishing mop used for returning a lightly damaged surface back to a bright, mirror polished finish
Stock Removal – The action of removing material from a workpiece by an abrasive process
Substrate – Any workpiece upon which an abrasive action is carried out
Super Abrasives – The common term used for diamond coated abrasive products


Tack Rag – A rag for the removal of extraneous dust from surfaces being prepared for a coating
Titanium – A very hard and tough metal, it is chemically and electrochemically resistant
Toughness – The ability of an abrasive grain to continue cutting and withstanding shear and frictional forces


Unified Wheels – Norton abrasives term for unitised products
Unitised (Unitized) Products – Nonwoven abrasives made by compressing sheets of abrasive fleece
Uniweb – EAC term for nonwoven abrasives


Vibratory Finishing – A method of improving the surface finish and also deburring components in bulk by applying vibration energy to the mass of work and media
Vitrified Wheel – A bonded abrasives grinding wheel


Weld Bluing – The discolouration marks around a welded area of metal, caused by high temperature
Weld Spatter – Small pieces of solder found around the area of a weld but not attached to the weld itself

X / Y / Z

Zirconium Abrasives – See alumina zirconia

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