Abrasives 101: Understanding the Role of Grinding Wheels in Welding

Abrasives 101: Understanding the Role of Grinding Wheels in Welding

The welding process is as complicated as it is crucial. To achieve a clean and accurate weld, professionals spend years training in the types of welding and developing an understanding of the tools involved at every stage of the process.

In this article, we’ll examine one of these critical tools — the grinding wheel. So, what is a grinding wheel, and what role does it play in welding? Let’s take a closer look.

Understanding Grinding Wheels

Grinding wheels are tools made of various abrasive particles bonded together. They can grind, cut, or shape a range of materials, from metal to concrete.

A variety of abrasives could be used in a grinding wheel, each of which differs in properties like hardness, strength, or resistance. Some common abrasives used — especially when working with metals — include aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, or zirconia alumina, a combination of aluminum oxide and zirconium oxide. 

The Role of Grinding Wheels in Welding 

Grinding wheels can be used at various stages of the welding process, including to prepare or finish a weld.

Preparing for Welding

To create a strong bond, welders need to prepare the metal. When working with specific materials, such as carbon steel, this could involve getting rid of mill scale.

Mill scale is a layer of iron oxide that is formed on the surface of steel during the hot rolling process. If left unattended, it can interfere with the integrity of a weld. A grinding wheel can be used to remove the scale.

Furthermore, grinding wheels are also used to prepare the joint surface. They shape a joint or create beveled surfaces, which helps prevent extensive distortion and warping during the welding process.

Removal of Excess Stock

A grinding wheel can also be used to remove excess stock from the weld itself. This helps achieve a level surface that blends with the parent metal and prepares the surface for further welding or finishing.

Using a grinding wheel to deal with certain materials, such as stainless steel, requires a great deal of expertise. However, with other materials, such as carbon steel, it can be very effective at dealing with excess stock, provided you adopt the right grinding angle.

A grinding wheel could also be used for rougher finishes, although a flap disc is more popular for a smoother, more polished finish. 

Repairing Welds or Fixing Mistakes 

A grinding wheel can also be used to deal with errors made during the welding process. It can, for instance, be used to trim, reshape, and correct any misshapen or oversized parts that produce large gaps or misfit parts at the joint.

Common welding defects, such as large cracks or pores in a small part of the weld, can also be ground out and rewelded with a grinding wheel.

Forge Forward with nexAir 

A grinding wheel serves several purposes in welding — from joint surface preparation and slag removal to completing a weld. Selecting the right kind of grinding wheel is key, depending on the type of metal you’re working with and the specifics of the project. 

Here’s where nexAir can help. As one of the leading suppliers of welding supplies across the Southeast, we have an over 80-year legacy of helping customers Forge Forward with the right KnowHow. Contact us to find out how we can assist with your next project.


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