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Aluminum oxide abrasive is used for grinding because of its hardness and strength, rating 9 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This makes it an effective and cost-effective alternative to industrial diamond and a key ingredient in many types of sandpaper.
As an abrasive, aluminium oxide can take on a range of surface finishes and applications – whether it’s blast cleaning steelwork or preparing wood pieces for repainting. It’s also one of the most durable abrasives out there, thanks to its long-life and water-based process of vapor honing.
The aluminium oxide we use in our abrasives starts life as bauxite. Manufacturers boil this raw material at 1000 degrees Celsius to remove excess water before adding ground coke and iron borings. This creates a mixture that’s fired in a kiln. This gives the abrasive its distinctive blocky shape and strength, with brown, white and pink variations available. Brown alumina grit has the longest life of the three, lasting up to seven times longer than silicon carbide and leaving a finer finish. White and pink alumina, on the other hand, have a shorter lifespan but perform better than brown alumina at removing coatings and rust.
There’s also monocrystalline corundum, which is often bonded with zirconia for high-tech resin bonds. MMA88K, for instance, features this kind of precision grain with enhanced particle morphologies that impart multiple sharp, strong edges to the individual crystals. As such, it’s suitable for grinding materials with high tensile strengths, including cemented carbide. Like all abrasives, each of the different kinds of aluminium oxide has its own unique qualities. You’ll be able to find out the exact make-up of your abrasive by checking the pictograms on the front blotter of your bonded wheel or sanding disc.