Abrasive products are strong, natural or processed crystals. Aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, cubic boron nitride, and diamond are the most common of those materials. Special applications are used for many items such as bullets, zirconia, glass and even walnut shells. Abrasives are used in surface cleaning, sizing mainly during specific grinding, sharpening of tools, the coarse removal of excess material, and separating cut-off operations. The abrasives are commonly used in metalworking as the grains can reach even the most hard-hitting metals and alloys. Grains are rough, sharp substances that can be used for rubbing off material when it is brought in contact with abrasives. Yet their strength helps them to interact with other hard materials such as bricks, glass and certain forms of plastics. The use of abrasives is also done with relatively soft materials, like wood and rubber, as their use allows high stock reduction, permanent cutting capacity, good shape control, and perfect finishing.
How are abrasives made?
The abrasive made up of silicon carbide and aluminum oxide is, both, very hard and flexible, which renders it tough. Their edges allow the abrasive to infiltrate into the working substance and reduce thermal abrasion. This enables the abrasive to be used in precision grinding and finishing. A vigorous grinding is carried out using strong abrasives that don’t allow cracking of the minerals and make them last longer. Manufactured abrasive materials like silicon carbide and aluminum oxide have gradually substituted natural abrasives over the last 100 years, and natural diamonds were almost superseded by synthetic diamonds. The popularity in processed abrasive materials derives from its excellent, controllable consistency and durable uniformity.
Forms of Abrasives
The abrasives in the industry are used in three basic forms.
- Bonding: The first method is bonding, which is used to form rigid equipment like grinding wheels, tubes, plates, containers, panel or bars.
- Wrapping: The second form is wrapping, wherein sheets of paper or fabric are turned into sandpaper, strips or belts by wrapping abrasives.
- Loosening: The third form is loosening, where the material is kept in either liquid or solid carrier for polishing or plummeting. This form is also used in sandblasting in construction.
Drivers of market
The growing need for smooth surface finishing on the components of the types of machinery is also one factor that will drive demand for abrasive products in the years to come. Current market drivers in abrasive manufacturing include rising consumer demand and growing advances in technology in the metal fibers field and in processing sectors, such as automobile, refining, machinery, and building. The speedy growth in the automotive sector in developing countries would create large investment opportunities in the future of abrasive global business. The rising need for a smooth surface finish will further fuel abrasive business growth.
The Asia-Pacific abrasive demand is anticipated to grow significantly, hitting $18,579.5 billion and growing $11,311.0 million in 2018. In the rapidly growing economies, which have created incremental increases in the number of production plants in Asia-Pacific, fast growth in industrialization is expected to create ample growth opportunities for the abrasive industry. The developing economies of China, Japan, and India are key contributors to the Asia-Pacific region.
A look at the future
The growth of the global abrasive industry is likely to be delayed due to the strict manufacturing process rules, which can hinder abrasive markets. The availability of raw materials and price volatility limit abrasive products in the sector. These two variables will restrict abrasive output and thus have a negative effect on market growth. All of these are variables that should restrict the output of abrasives and in doing so adversely affect market growth.
In order to increase their position in the world abrasive market, the major players in the global abrasive industry are focusing on new product innovations and combinations and acquisitions. Saint-Gobain Abrasives, Bosch, Henkel, Carborundum Universal Ltd., Asahi Diamond Industrial Co. Ltd., DowDuPont, 3 M, Tyrolit, Deerfos, Fujimi Inc, etc are the major players in the global abrasive industry.