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Abrasives Grain Advances for Unmatched Grinding Performance

Jeremy Spencer
By Jeremy Spencer Norton, Saint-Gobain Abrasives
Jeremy Spencer,
Jeremy Spencer, Product Manager, Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives

As manufacturing process requirements become more challenging in the United States and abroad, abrasive products for metalworking applications must also evolve to meet new criteria, while keeping operator comfort a top priority. This is true in a range of industries such as aerospace, machining, oil & gas, medical, automotive, foundry and fabrication. High productivity, speed and long abrasives life are key for grinding applications in all types of materials.

Historically, operators performed right-angle grinding primarily on carbon steel using small grinding wheels with fused aluminum oxide grain to remove welds or bevel parts. Grinding wheels were used for medium to large welds because of the improved performance and life compared with the fiber discs available at that time.

Zirconia-alumina abrasive grain was the next advancement to reduce grinding time and increase abrasives’ life. When zirconia-alumina was incorporated into a fiber disc, operators preferred a fiber disc over the conventional grinding wheel for weld removal. While zirconia grain advanced grinding technology, it required high forces to remain sharp. Thus came the ceramic grain that further reduced grind times and increased life, requiring less force to grind.

The continued advancement of newer ceramics and topcoats (supersize—grinding aid layers) pushed the boundaries of grinding even further, improving product performance. Today, a new era of abrasive grains is ready to take grinding to the next level with engineered-shaped ceramic grain. These grains will improve performance on carbon steel, and on challenging materials such as aluminum, Inconel, stainless and titanium.

To address the increasingly demanding grinding challenges that manufacturers and fabricators face, a new ceramic grain has come on the scene: Norton RazorStar fiber discs, quick-change discs and belts feature an engineered, shaped-ceramic grain with a supersize coating, offering a single abrasives solution for removing welds, grinding, beveling and heavy deburring on carbon steels and hard-to-grind metals.


RazorStar products are designed for medium- to high-pressure metal removal in the most demanding off-hand or robotic grinding applications. The unique engineered-shaped ceramic grain cuts faster and removes more material, while allowing operators to apply less pressure for an ergonomic and user-friendly solution that reduces fatigue.

We are seeing as much as 50% cutting performance improvement with RazorStar discs and belts compared with other ceramic products.

Applying lower pressure also maximizes performance by reducing heat that causes metal capping. The unique geometry and tough micro-structure enable the grain to stay sharp, as new cutting points are exposed when the grain fractures. The advanced Norton manufacturing process also allows a higher percentage of grain to be oriented in an upright position compared to previous shaped-grain products, resulting in more grain tips cutting the metal. 

RazorStar was designed so that as the grain wears away it stays sharp and keeps cutting with no significant increase in pressure throughout the life of the disc or belt. Conventional grains and other shaped grain products require the operator to increase pressure as the grain wears. This increases the force the operator must apply and requires additional amps on the grinder, and other negative factors such as loading, rubbing/ burning can also occur.

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