If you work in any industry that often deals with metal materials, like aluminum, you should always have a great grinding wheel on hand.
To buy the best grinding wheel for your upcoming job, you need to know what to look for and which tasks they are designed to accomplish.
Before clicking “buy” on any grinding wheel for working with aluminum, take a quick look at the guide below.
Types of Grinding Wheels for Aluminum
Grinding wheels are designed for deburring or cleaning blemishes and rust from various metals and other materials. It is a frequently used tool for pre- and post-weld applications.
The best type of grinding wheels is a combination of silicon carbide and aluminum oxide particles. Using an aluminum-specific option will ensure a safe workspace keeping the wheel from overheating and possibly exploding or destroying the metal you are working on.
Resin Fiber Grinding Discs
Resin fiber discs are designed to remove stock for surface preparation. The abrasive particles are bonded to the backing of the wheel with a resin.
Resin fiber disks are a great option because they offer cooler cutting and are more versatile in operations.
- Zirconia grain disks: Zirconia alumina, ZIR, is ideal for metal work requiring medium to coarse grit. It holds up to high pressure and temperatures, making it suitable for aluminum jobs.
Flap Grinding Discs
A flap disc is used for finishing and deburring operations completed at the same time. Fiber discs and grinding discs combined with an overlapping abrasive flap adhered to a backing plate.
Flap grinding discs offer low-resistant properties. These discs maintain low temperatures during grinding, preventing the aluminum from melting during operations.
Wire Brushes and Wheels
Wired brushes or wheels are an excellent way to remove paint, weld spatter, and rust from aluminum. However, it will not give you the ideal finish. For a smooth surface, you will have to perform other finishing operations.
- Stainless steel and brass: Brass and stainless steel brushes are not as prone to after-rust as other materials, such as carbon fiber.
Depressed Center Wheels
You would use a depressed center wheel on grinding applications with right-angle work. This type of grinding wheel is also called a raised hub wheel because of the depressed center design.
This option is best when deburring applications, not for finishing. These wheels come in zirconia alumina, ceramic alumina, and aluminum oxide.
Sanding drums are best suited for small grinding tools like Dremels or die grinders. They efficiently grind large aluminum areas and offer sharp, clean, smooth edges.
You should select a particle size for the grinding wheel based on your desired finish.
The Best Disc for Perfect Results
The type of disk you use and how you use it can vary the result of each application. Even pressure with a light touch is the best way to grind aluminum. A T29 or conical disc is ideal for a good stock removal rate and large surface contact.
A T27 or flat disc will help you achieve a smooth finish on aluminum projects or offer the best surface clean possible.
Grinding Tools for Aluminum Applications
When you are buying a grinding wheel for aluminum operations, you must make sure it is compatible with the tools you have.
Bench grinders are used to grind, sharpen, shape, and polish various metal objects. It is attached to a bench or table for a secure hold. You can adjust these machines to a specific speed and pressure.
A Dremel with the right attachments is a perfect tool for grinding aluminum. With that said, these tools can only work on smaller metal sheets due to their size.
You shouldn’t rush a Dremel while grinding aluminum; this can break or damage the metal and your machine.
You can use an angle grinder for buffing soft metals such as aluminum. The best way to do this is to add a saw lubricant to preserve the tools and eliminate any chance of damage or defects to the grinder, wheel, or material you are grinding.
More than 25 types of wheels are made for an angle grinder that performs well on aluminum jobs.
Die grinders can be used on various materials, aluminum being one of them. These grinders frequently run on air and a compressor. These grinders are ideal for heavy-duty jobs and removing thick, heavy material.
You can grind aluminum with a surface grinder. However, doing so should be done with a wheel with coated abrasive particles. The best selection is a silicon carbide wheel. If you aren’t careful, this metal can quickly melt, so always coat it with lubricant while working.
Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Grinding Wheel
When you are in the market for a quality grinding wheel, there are other factors to think about that aren’t necessarily part of the product itself.
The cost of your grinding wheel will differ depending on the type you need. These wheels vary in price depending on the material it is made from, their size, and the tool it goes to.
Grinding wheels for aluminum applications can range from $8 to $100.
Always check to see what each part of the grinding wheel consists of and that the materials are durable. While a less impressive grinding wheel may cost less, it will fall apart faster.
You are taking a significant risk purchasing a grinding wheel from a manufacturer that isn’t well-known or reputable. Check the ratings and reviews of the wheel you want to buy before wasting your money on junk.
Dangers of Grinding Aluminum with a Wheel
Aluminum is a soft metal that can melt easily with the right amount of heat. This can coat your wheel, leaving no grit to grind your materials. The only particles left are the aluminum against the wheel coated in, well, aluminum. Once it reaches a certain temperature, the wheel can explode.
The best way to avoid this issue is to work slowly, never pushing the wheel too hard or quickly on the metal. You should also use quality oil to keep your materials lubricated and cool.
Aluminum also has the potential to combust from concentrated dust particles suspended in the air. Proper ventilation and the right environment should be considered before grinding aluminum.
Health Risks of Grinding Aluminum
According to research, small amounts of aluminum grinding do pose a threat to your health. However, high amounts of aluminum dust accumulating in your lungs can lead to lung problems, metal fume fever, and nervous system complications.
The best way to avoid any dangers associated with aluminum grinding is to utilize proper air purification systems and safety gear when running the machines.
Grinding wheels are a great way to remove stuck-on debris, welding residue, rust, and other imperfections from aluminum. They are also a great way to create a shiny, clean, smooth surface on metal sheets. Finding the right wheel for your project is the best way to ensure you get the outcome you are shooting for.