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August 24, 2020 3 min read

Ceramic Belts Best For Metal Finishing

Quick Summary

Yes, ceramic belts are the best belts for metal finishing. Their ability to maintain fast and durable cutting over time is unrivaled, making the premium price worth it in the long-run.

Selecting a sanding belt for your metal finishing application can be difficult given the sheer amount of choice available. With so many grit sizes, abrasive types, and backing materials on the belts, which one delivers the most reliable performance when working with metals?

Although most abrasives can be used for applications involving metal (it’s highly advised that open coat aluminum oxide not be used for metal finishing), ceramic belts are widely recognized for their superior performance and results. As a result, they have an equally premium price, which is why we are often asked if ceramic belts are really the best abrasive for metal finishing.

The answer is yes, and in this blog, we’ll explain why ceramic belts are worth the cost and how they can save you money.

Ceramic Belts Vs. Other Abrasive Grain Types

Ceramic is a high-performance grain. It has a closed-coat composition, with the grain being applied evenly without any voids in the surface to ensure a consistent finish. It also has an aggressive cutting ability, and microcrystalline structure that creates sharp new cutting edges with each use, resulting in a longer working life compared to most other abrasives. The ability to maintain a fast and durable cutting action makes it an ideal abrasive for preparing metal surfaces and stock removal, as well as restoring and finishing workpieces.

Ceramic abrasives require considerable pressure and speed to fracture the grain and reveal fresh cutting surfaces. Without enough pressure, a ceramic belt can become “glazed” and will stop cutting even though there is grit left. This issue is easily fixed by finding a scrap piece of steel and applying hard pressure to the belt at a high speed. Don’t worry, the stearate topcoat helps to mitigate heat build up. 

For years, ceramic belts have been used to apply a smooth finish in the applications like the following:

  • Stainless steel finishing
  • Aluminum castings
  • Titanium alloys

Zirconia and aluminum oxide have also been used for metal finishing, but both of them differ from ceramic in terms of longevity and performance:

  • Zirconia also self-sharpens during use and will keep cutting until the grain is worn out, however, the micro-grain structure of ceramic results in smaller pieces breaking away during use, giving it superior longevity.
  • Aluminum oxide, one of the most commonly-used abrasives, wears down more rapidly, affecting stock removal rate and finish quality. As the grains continue to dull, you have to apply more pressure to maintain performance, which can lead to excessive heat build-up and operator fatigue.

At Red Label Abrasives, we manufacture and sell resin-bonded ceramic sanding belts that outlast other abrasives while providing a faster and cooler finishing job. EdgeCore ceramic, our newest sanding technology, evenly micro-fractures during use and maintains cool grinding temperatures, even during high-speed grinding.

Ceramic is generally sold in 24 through 120 grit with an X-weight backing, but Red Label Abrasives also makes it available in 180, 240, 320, and 400 grit with a J-weight backing, so that you have the fine grits needed to deliver a superior finish on your metal products.

Contact an Abrasive Specialist

At Red Label Abrasives, we are committed to providing the highest-quality ceramic belts for your metalworking application. Our goal is to see you achieve the best possible results while reducing the amount you have to spend on abrasive products. We can also provide you with custom-manufactured sanding belts tailored for your production system. 

Red Label Abrasives is a family-owned company that has been producing premium-quality abrasives for industrial manufacturers and hobbyists alike for over 35 years. We take great pride in offering exceptional customer service and unrivaled technical support. Please visit our online store and if you have questions about placing an order, please call 844-824-1956 or fill out a contact form.