In industrial processing, an abrasive is commonly referred to as a substance that is used for polishing or smoothing other products, by rubbing it against the other and causing friction. Abrasives are also used in blast processing. Abrasives also have a wide array of usage in day-to-day life. Abrasives are used extensively in polishing wooden furniture and metals and for removing surface materials such as metal, ceramics, glass, plastics, and paint. They are also used in operations such as optical lens polishing as well as in the grinding of metal and glass, wet and dry grinding, sanding, cleaning, polishing, lapping, and surface preparation in various of industrial settings, including metalworking, woodworking, ceramics, and semiconductors. They are also ideal to sharpen tools, cut optical components, and finish concrete.
Abrasive materials are naturally available as in the case with minerals as well as being man-made. Some examples of natural abrasives are emery, sand and flint. Manufactured abrasives are obtained by chemically treating certain substances to attain abrasive qualities such as borazon and carborandum. Other examples of abrasives include: aluminum oxide, zirconia alumina, ceramic, garnet, tungsten carbine, silicon carbide, diamond dust, grinding wheels, powdered glass, pumice dust, and sandpaper.
Aluminum oxide is the most common industrial mineral in use today and it is used either by itself or with other materials to form ceramic grains. Aluminum oxide is also mixed with emery and crocus to manufacture abrasives that are suitable for finishing applications
Abrasives and abrasive products come in a variety of styles and they include various items such as discs, belts, blast machines and sandblasters, along with sheets, rolls, and hand pads. Some abrasives and abrasive products are made to be used on bench or back stand grinders, while others types are made to be used with on portable or handheld grinders or sanders. Bonded abrasives, which include grinding wheels, use abrasive grains that are held together in a mixture of glass, resin, rubber, and other binding materials.
An ideal abrasive must be highly cost effective, easily available and have a high degree of bonding capability. A different category of abrasives is known as coated abrasives which are obtained from abrasive substances that are glued to surfaces like wood, a cloth belt, a fiber disc, a plastic film or paper sheet etc. Coated abrasives are primarily used in polishing processes.