Any piece of work, be it art or furniture is not complete without the touch of an abrasive. The application of abrasives is so common today that we sometimes even tend to discard some of them as not being one. So what exactly is an abrasive? In simple terms, it is a material mostly a mineral that is rubbed against another surface to shape or finish a work piece. The rubbing of this material leads to the work piece being worn away. The use of abrasives can be attained a smooth and reflective surface and even to achieve a rough surface such as in the case of satin or beaded finishes.
Abrasives can be used for industrial, technological applications and even for household use! Ever used a whetstone to sharpen a knife in your kitchen? Well in this case, the whtstone is the abrasive. It works by relying on the hardness of its surface and the surface of the object it would be rubbed against. The word abrasion also gained popularity because of the fact that abrasives can cause things to wear and tear. Some factors that affect how fast a material can be polished or roughened include the hardness between the two materials. The harder the rubbing material is, the faster it would do the job. The grains on the abrasive material also matter as larger grains would cut faster. The amount of force used can deter how fast the job is done.
A whetstone can be a good example of how abrasives are used to achieve coarse or smooth finishes. As the stone has a coarse side for sharpening the knife, it also has a smooth side to achieve that smooth finish. The regular toothpaste that you use every morning to get whiter teeth also contains a form of abrasive. Calcium carbonate, which is a very soft abrasive, is used in toothpaste as a polishing agent.
Naturally occurring and synthetic abrasives
Abrasives can be naturally occurring or man-made, also referred to as synthetic. Some of the synthetic ones can be very identical to naturally occurring abrasives; however they can not be called natural abrasives as they do not arise naturally. An example of a very hard and durable natural abrasive is diamond. However, using diamond is not feasible as it is very expensive to attain. Also, natural ones may contain impurities therefore are not as feasible. Examples of synthetic abrasives include ceramics, aluminum oxide or silicon.
Bonded and coated abrasives
Bonded abrasives are those that are contained within a matrix. The matrix is called a binder and the mixture of the binder and abrasive is usually shaped sticks, blocks or wheels. A coated abrasive is one which makes use of a backing material such as paper or cloth. The abrasive is fixed on this material using an adhesive. A very common example of such is sand paper.