how to make tool steel

How Tool Steel is Made

Tool steel, as the name suggests, is often used to produce and repair machine tools and hand tools (among other applications). Known for its extreme hardness, tool steel has good abrasion resistance and can hold a cutting edge at high temperatures.

Different grades of tool steel are made by adding different amounts of carbon, as well as other elements such as chromium, tungsten, and molybdenum. Each type and form of steel is produced with different methods, depending on the characteristics desired.

The most popular forms of tool steel are O-1 and A-2 tool steels, which are both part of the cold-work group of tool steels.

  • O-1 is a general purpose oil-hardening steel with good hardness, strength, and wear resistance. It is mainly used for items like knives and forks.
  • A-2 is an air hardening steel with good machinability along with a balance of wear resistance and toughness. A-2 is the most common variety of air-hardening steel and is often used for blanking and forming punches, trimming dies, and injection mold dies.
  • How to Make Tool Steel

    The basic process of making tool steel starts with recycled steel scrap which is melted in an electric arc furnace, along with any alloying elements. The molten mixture is poured into a giant ladle and mixed with chemicals to prevent oxidation. After impurities are removed through this refining stage, the steel is allowed to flow down into large molds to make ingots.

    After un-molding, the red-hot ingots are forged with huge mechanical dies to press them into the desired size and shape. The finished forgings are annealed by re-heating to reduce internal stresses formed during the forging process. Then they are allowed to cool slowly either in water, air, or an oil bath, allowing the metal crystals to re-form. This annealing process keeps the steel soft enough to work without cracking. It can then be cold- or hot-rolled into the desired shape.

    Advanced Methods

    An alternative method of making tool steel is to position the ladle of hot molten steel over a vertical open-ended mold. The molten steel runs down through the cooled mold, and begins to harden near the mold’s inner surface. As more steel passes through the mold, the partially hardened metal continues to move down and then out onto water-cooled rollers. The result is a long, continuous bar or rod of steel.

    For a tool steel with better surface quality and fewer imperfections, manufacturers use a process called electro-slag re-melting (ESR). Giant water-cooled molds are filled with a pool of heated slag containing reactive chemicals. A consumable steel ingot, called an electrode, is lowered down into the slag. An electric current passed through the electrode causes it to melt, its liquid drops of steel pulled by the current towards the bottom of the mold. As the drops flow downward through the hot slag, impurities react with chemicals in the pool and float to the top. Only pure steel droplets reach the bottom, where they solidify and eventually build up a homogeneous steel ingot inside the mold.

    Another, more advanced process uses powdered metal to form tool steel with improved hardening and machinability. This process has better results for tool steel with higher percentages of carbon and alloying material, required for applications such as aerospace components.

    Industrial Metal Supply offers tool steel bar in O-1 and A-2 grades. Note that not all sizes and alloys are stocked in every IMS location, but we can get it to you in any case.

    tips for preventing rust

    6 Tips For Preventing Rust

    Rust is the name for the orange-brown flakes of iron oxide that form on the surface of any metal containing iron that is exposed to air and water. It is a type of corrosion that can be highly destructive, as well as unsightly. In this article, we will share tips on how to prevent rust.

    The rusting process begins when iron reacts with oxygen in the presence of water, saltwater, acids, or other harsh chemicals. As the iron oxide flakes off the metal surface, it exposes fresh iron molecules, which continue the reaction process. Eventually, large areas of rust form that may cause the entire metal structure to disintegrate.

    A ferrous metal is one that contains iron and only iron can rust. Common ferrous metals include carbon steel (1018, 12L14), alloy steel (4130), and stainless steel (304, 316). Non-ferrous metals, such as aluminum and copper, contain little if any iron, and so cannot rust, though they can corrode.

    Keep It Clean and Dry

    Water is enemy number one when it comes to rust, because it’s the oxygen in water molecules that combines with iron to form iron oxide. That’s why metals left outdoors, such as cars, gates, or tanks, are more likely to rust. If the object is located in a humid indoors environment, such as a garage or basement, install a dehumidifier. Any type of mud or dirt adhered to the surface can hold water, so it’s important to keep metals clean.

    Prevent Scratches

    Scratches or cracks in the metal expose more metal and hold water, allowing it to remain in contact with the iron. This is why cold rolled steel is more corrosion resistant than hot rolled steel, because cold rolling creates a smoother surface without texture that can trap and hold water.

    Apply A Protective Coating

    Dipping metal objects, such as clocks, into a bluing solution of water, sodium hydroxide, and potassium nitrate, provides strong corrosion resistance. Commercially available rust prevention products in the form of aerosol sprays or cloth wipes also can protect metal objects, including tools, outdoor gear, vehicles, and large metal parts.

    Use Stainless Steel

    Stainless steel alloys contain iron, but it resists rust because it also contains a high percentage of chromium which is even more reactive than iron. The chromium in the alloy oxidizes quickly to form a protective layer of chromium oxide on the metal surface which prevents oxygen from reaching the underlying steel.

    Use Galvanized Metal

    Galvanization is a process used to preserve steel rust-free for many years. In the galvanizing process, a piece of steel is coated with liquid zinc. The zinc protects the steel in three different ways. First, the zinc coating acts as a barrier preventing oxygen and water from reaching the steel. Second, even if the coating is scratched off, the zinc continues to protect nearby areas of the metal through cathodic protection. And third, zinc is highly reactive to oxygen and quickly forms a protective coating of zinc oxide which prevents the iron from further oxidation.

    Regular Maintenance

    Because rust spreads quickly, it’s important to scrape it off as soon as it appears. Then, scrub with warm water and soap and apply a metal conditioner or other protective coating to prevent further oxidation. If necessary, apply a new coat of paint to the area.

    Industrial Metal Supply is the Southland’s largest supplier of all types of metal and metalworking accessories, including rust prevention products.

    best metals for welding

    Best Metals for Welding

    The best metals for welding depend on the project design and budget, the skill and experience of the welder, and the welding process to be used. Almost any metal can be welded, but some are easier than others for creating a high-quality, defect-free weld.

    Some types of metal require special equipment, such as a vacuum or gas chamber, limits on heat exposure, or pre- and post-welding heat treatment. Some perform better with different types of welding, whether stick, TIG, or MIG. Choosing the right electrode and filler material for the base metal and following prescribed welding procedures is essential. Each specific situation depends on the base metal’s chemical makeup.

    Low Carbon Steel

    Also known as mild steel, low carbon steel contains a very small percentage of carbon (less than 0.3%) and up to about 0.4% manganese (AISI 1018 steel). This commonly used steel is very ductile, due to its low carbon content. High ductility means high weldability because it reduces the chance of brittleness in the heat affected zone (HAZ), which can lead to hydrogen cracking. Low carbon steel can be welded using almost any type of equipment and is one of the best metals for welding.

    Stainless Steel

    Stainless steel can be quite weldable, depending on the grade. Ferritic and austenitic stainless steels can be welded fairly easily, but not martensitic stainless types, which tend to crack. Stainless steel tends to warp under high heat, which can affect the shape and strength of the final workpiece. Another issue is that the chromium in stainless will combine with carbon during the welding process, leaving the piece more susceptible to rust without its chromium oxide protective layer. To prevent this problem, don’t heat the workpiece above the recommended temperature, or choose a low-carbon stainless grade.


    Creating a defect-free weld in aluminum is different than welding steel, but can be done by following the prescribed guidelines. Choosing the proper grade is important, as some types are much easier than others to weld. Because of aluminum’s high thermal conductivity, heat is transferred away from the weld very quickly. Equipment with a higher welding current may be required to supply the necessary heat. As it cools, aluminum shrinks significantly more than steel, so special care must be taken to prevent craters and cracking. Finally, the natural aluminum oxide coating on the base metal can add contaminants, and should be removed prior to welding to avoid porosity in the weld.

    Other Metal Types

    Other metals, including magnesium, copper, cast iron, titanium and superalloys such as Inconel, can be welded. These will typically require special equipment and expert skill, making them less weldable for traditional job shops and hobbyists.

    Industrial Metal Supply is your one-stop shop in the Southwest for all things metal. Visit our catalog for a wide selection of metal products, including steel, stainless steel, and aluminum, as well as all the machines, supplies, and accessories you need for welding.

    what are the strongest metals

    What Are The Strongest Metals?

    Although there are several different definitions of strength, including hardness, yield strength, and compressive strength, this article focuses mainly on tensile strength, which is the force required to stretch an object or pull it apart.

    The first three metals on the list are elements found in nature, while the last three are man-made mixtures of elements (alloys) crafted for applications requiring high strength. The strongest pure or natural metals can’t match the strength of alloys specifically designed for high strength, along with other useful properties such as heat resistance, durability, biocompatibility, and corrosion resistance.


    Chromium metal rates highest on the Mohs hardness scale, but it is brittle, and must be mixed with other metals for greater tensile strength, for example, in stainless steel.


    Tungsten has the highest tensile strength of any pure metal – up to 500,000 psi at room temperature. Even at very high temperatures over 1,500°C, it has the highest tensile strength. However, tungsten metal is brittle, making it less useable in its pure state.


    Pure titanium has a higher tensile strength than standard steel, but it is less dense, giving it a very high strength-to-weight ratio. However, steel alloys are stronger than pure titanium.


    Inconel is an alloy of nickel and chromium, with several other elements, such as molybdenum. Inconel comes in several different grades, and is known for high strength at high temperatures, as well as corrosion resistance.

    Steel Alloys

    Steel itself is an alloy of carbon and iron. Alloys of steel with additional elements added, such as carbon (tool) steel and stainless steel can be crafted that are much stronger than standard steel. Each alloy is specifically designed to optimize different properties for different applications. Tensile strength, corrosion resistance, hardness, impact resistance, yield strength, and other properties, depend on the alloying elements chosen and the processes used.

    Magnesium Alloys

    Scientists continue to develop and test new alloys with even greater properties. In recent years, several different university research groups have announced new types of magnesium alloys that exhibit exceptional strength, along with light weight and high corrosion resistance. These new materials are already being used in smartphone and laptop cases, electric batteries, and medical implants.

    Contact Industrial Metal Supply for in-stock supply of carbon steel and stainless steel bar, sheet, and plate, as well as tubing, pipe, and structural shapes.

    cleaning stainless steel

    Ways to Clean Stainless Steel

    Stainless steel is a wonderful material, providing a strong, attractive, waterproof and “stainless” finish to many different types of products, such as appliances, hand-rails, tanks, etc. But stainless does not always remain rust-free, and it often needs cleaning, especially outdoors or in environments around food, pharmaceuticals or other chemicals. At the same time, when preparing stainless steel for fabrication or finishing, it’s essential to ensure the surface is clean. There are fundamental differences in these two ways of cleaning stainless steel.

    Cleaning Stainless Appliances

    When cleaning the surface of stainless steel appliances, vent hoods or tanks, start with the simplest solutions first. Water, a drop of dish soap, and a microfiber cloth applied with elbow grease can accomplish a lot. Be sure to dry off any leftover water to prevent streaking. To shine the finish, rub a cloth containing a couple drops of mineral oil in line with the metal grain. If the surface shows cloudy oxidation or rust, use a non-toxic, non-acidic product such as Flitz Polish to remove the oxidation. For heavier stains, grease, mold or rust, use a commercial stainless steel cleaner that contains a degreaser.

    Metal Surface Preparation

    In the process of making a stainless steel product, oxide scale can form on the steel as a result of hot rolling, thermal treatments, welding, and brazing. Lubricants and coolants may be applied to the stainless during cutting and forming operations and bits of metal from cutting tools may become embedded in the surface. Shop dirt, fingerprints, and grime may accumulate on the stainless during handling and storage, and even protective paper or plastic sheets may permanently adhere to the surface over time. All these contaminants must be removed in the surface preparation process before welding, priming, painting, electro-static painting, and powder coating stainless steel.

    Is Stainless Steel Really Stainless?

    Stainless steel contains at least 10 percent chromium, which is a highly reactive metal. The chromium on the surface of a piece of stainless oxidizes (rusts) quickly in the presence of oxygen or water molecules in the atmosphere. These oxidized chromium molecules form a very thin, tight film, called a passivation layer that acts as a barrier against the surrounding air, preventing any further oxidation of the steel.

    But when this protective film is broken up in the process of manufacturing, a heavy scale can form on the surface. This scale could cause a welding or adhesion failure, and it is removed by “pickling,” or applying a combination of acids to the surface. Typically nitric acid is part of the solution, because it encourages the passivation layer to form. Another method for removing scale from stainless steel is sandblasting.

    Certain types of welding can create a light scale or a heat tint discoloration on the surface. Any type of screw holes or other attachment points that create a break in the passivation film leave the stainless susceptible to rust.

    Applying a pickling solution or metal degreaser to remove oil, grease, scale and rust should be followed by a protective coating to prevent further rust and leave a brighter surface finish.

    Industrial Metal Supply carries cleaners, polishers, and degreasers for stainless steel and a range of ferrous and non-ferrous metals.

    Selecting Tool Grade Steel

    4 Things To Consider When Selecting a Tool Grade Steel

    Known for their distinct hardness, tool steels are used to make cutting tools including knives and drills, as well as to create dies that stamp and form sheet metal. Though selecting a tool steel may seem straightforward, the process requires tradeoffs – making the task an art as well as a science. Choosing the optimal tool steel grade will depend on many factors, including:

    1. Characteristics of available tool steel grades
    2. The specific application
    3. The history of failures in similar applications
    4. Tool steel cost

    Tool Steel Grades and Corresponding Applications

    Tool steels are available in a wide range of grades, based on their composition, the temperature range in which they were forged or rolled, and the type of hardening they have undergone. The AISISAE general purpose grades of tool steel are O-1, A-2, and D-2. These standard grade steels are considered “cold-working steels,” that can hold their cutting edge at temperatures up to about 400°C. They exhibit good hardness, abrasion resistance, and deformation resistance.

    O-1 is an oil-hardening steel with high hardness and good machinability. This grade of tool steel is mainly used for items like cutting tools and drills, as well as knives and forks.

    A-2 is an air-hardening steel containing a medium amount of alloying material (chromium). It has good machinability along with a balance of wear resistance and toughness. A-2 is the most commonly used variety of air-hardening steel and is often used for blanking and forming punches, trimming dies and injection mold dies.

    D-2 steel can be either oil-hardened or air-hardened, and contains a higher percentage of carbon and chromium than O-1 and A-2 steel. It has a high wear resistance, good toughness and low distortion after heat treating. The higher carbon and chromium levels in D-2 steel make it a good choice for applications requiring a longer tool life.

    Other tool steel grades contain a higher percentage of different types of alloys, such as high-speed steel M2, which can be selected for high-volume production. A variety of hot working steels can maintain a sharp cutting edge at much higher temperatures of up to 1000°C.

    How Does Tool Steel Fail?

    Before selecting a tool steel grade, it’s important to consider which type of tool failure is most likely for this application by examining failed tools. For example, some tooling fails due to abrasive wear, in which the material being cut wears down the tool surface, though this type of failure is slow to occur and can be anticipated. A tool that has become worn to failure needs a tool steel with greater wear resistance.

    Other types of failure are more catastrophic, such as cracking, chipping, or plastic deformation. For a tool that has broken or cracked, the toughness or impact resistance of the tool steel should be increased (note that impact resistance is reduced by notches, undercuts, and sharp radii, which are common in tools and dies). For a tool that has deformed under pressure, hardness should be increased.

    Keep in mind, however, that tool steel properties are not directly related to each other, so for instance, you may need to sacrifice toughness for higher wear resistance. This is why it’s so important to understand the properties of different tool steels, as well as other factors such as the geometry of the die, the material being worked, and the manufacturing history of the tool itself.

    Cost Of Tool Steel

    A final issue to consider when selecting a tool steel grade is cost. Cutting corners on the choice of material may not result in lower overall production cost if the tool proves to be inferior and fails prematurely. A cost-benefit analysis should be undertaken to ensure that the tool steel material chosen will provide the performance required.

    Industrial Metal Supply offers a variety of shapes and sizes of tool steel bar in O-1 and A-2 grades.

    steel diamond tread plate

    How Are Diamond Plates Made

    How Are Aluminum Diamond Plates Manufactured?

    Diamond plates go by several names, including tread plate, diamond tread plate, deck plate, and checker plate. All these names refer to the same basic product: metal sheet, or plate, with a three-dimensional diamond-shaped or bar-shaped pattern embossed on one side.

    Diamond plates offer a rugged, maintenance-free, slip-free surface that makes stairs, ramps, vehicle running boards, and walking surfaces safer, especially when wet. It provides protection to bumpers, docks, walls, columns, toolboxes, etc. Aluminum diamond plates also makes an attractive backsplash or wall covering or decorative accent in modern industrial-style interiors.

    Diamond tread plates comes in different types of aluminum alloys, and steel, but it is called floor or tread plate when made of steel. There are two basic methods for making diamond plate – stamping and rolling.

    Stamping Diamonds

    A sheet metal stamping machine uses a metal die on a room-temperature metal sheet to create the raised diamond pattern. After the molded die presses down to emboss a small section of the sheet, the automated machine moves the sheet along a bed of rollers, and then the block stamps the next section until the entire sheet has been embossed.

    Rolling diamonds

    Most metal sheet is created through the process of rolling, in which pairs of heavy rollers gradually compress a block of very hot metal to create the desired thickness and cross-section. Diamond plate can be created near the end of the rolling process while the metal is still hot, or in a separate process after the metal sheet has cooled. Either way, one of the rollers is covered in a raised diamond pattern. By using just a single patterned roller, the resulting diamond plate will remain smooth and flat on the back side, making it easier to install.

    Industrial Metal Supply offers steel tread plate that meets ASTM A786 standards, and aluminum tread plate in 3003 and 6061 alloys. Four styles are available:

    • Tread Brite is the most common type of aluminum tread plate. It has a shiny appearance and can be used for a wide variety of applications, including architectural and decorative, as well as functional.
    • Embossed Firetruck-Quality (FTQ) Tread Plate has the same pattern as Tread Brite, but with a slightly modified textured diamond¬¬ which provides an even better grip. FTQ meets NFPA industry safety regulations.
    • 5-Bar Tread Plate has a unique pattern of individual blocks of five parallel bars positioned perpendicularly with neighboring blocks like the squares on a checkerboard.
    • Mill Finish Tread Plate comes in aluminum or steel with a matte-finish diamond pattern. It is used primarily in structural applications that do not require bending.

    Contact Industrial Metal Supply for all your diamond tread plate needs.

    corrosion resistant metals

    4 Types of Metal That Are Corrosion Resistant or Don’t Rust

    We usually think of rust as the orange-brown flakes that form on an exposed steel surface when iron molecules in the metal react with oxygen in the presence of water to produce iron oxides. Metals may also react in the presence of acids or harsh industrial chemicals. If nothing stops the corrosion, flakes of rust will continue to break off, exposing the metal to further corrosion until it disintegrates.

    Not all metals contain iron, but they can corrode or tarnish in other oxidizing reactions. To prevent oxidation and breakdown of metal products, such as handrails, tanks, appliances, roofing or siding, you can choose metals that are “rust-proof” or more accurately, “corrosion-proof.” Four basic types of metals fall into this category:

    • Stainless steel
    • Aluminum metal
    • Copper, bronze or brass
    • Galvanized steel

    Stainless Steel

    Stainless steel types, such as 304 or 316, are a mix of elements, and most contain some amount of iron, which easily oxidizes to form rust. But many stainless steel alloys also contain a high percentage of chromium – at least 18 percent – which is even more reactive than iron. The chromium oxidizes quickly to form a protective layer of chromium oxide on the metal surface. This oxide layer resists corrosion, while at the same time prevents oxygen from reaching the underlying steel. Other elements in the alloy, such as nickel and molybdenum, add to its rust-resistance.

    Aluminum metal

    Many aircraft are made from aluminum, as are car and bike parts. This is due to its light weight, but also to its resistance to corrosion. Aluminum alloys contain almost no iron and without iron, the metal can’t actually rust, but it does oxidize. When the alloy is exposed to water, a film of aluminum oxide forms quickly on the surface. The hard oxide layer is quite resistant to further corrosion and protects the underlying metal.

    Copper, Bronze and Brass

    These three metals contain little or no iron, and so do not rust, but they can react with oxygen. Copper oxidizes over time to form a green patina, which actually protects the metal from further corrosion. Bronze is a mixture of copper and tin, along with small amounts of other elements, and is naturally much more resistant to corrosion than copper. Brass is an alloy of copper, zinc, and other elements, which also resists corrosion.

    Galvanized Steel

    Galvanized steel takes a long time to rust, but it will eventually rust. This type is carbon steel that has been galvanized, or coated, with a thin layer of zinc. The zinc acts as a barrier preventing oxygen and water from reaching the steel, so that it is corrosion protected. Even if the zinc coating is scratched off, it continues to protect nearby areas of the underlying steel through cathodic protection, as well as by forming a protective coating of zinc oxide. Like aluminum, zinc is highly reactive to oxygen in the presence of moisture, and the coating prevents the iron in the steel from further oxidation.

    Industrial Metal Supply carries a wide range of rust-resistant metals for a variety of applications.

    hot rolled steel vs cold rolled steel

    What is the Difference Between Hot Rolled and Cold Rolled Steel?

    Both hot rolled steel and cold rolled steel start out in essentially the same way and both can have the same grades and specifications. But cold rolled steel undergoes additional processing steps, resulting in improved properties that can be exploited for different applications. Each type of steel has its advantages and disadvantages and costs for the two types of steel are also different.

    How It’s Made

    Both cold rolled and hot rolled steel start out as large steel slabs or billets cast from hot liquid metal. The billets are then heated, eventually reaching over 1700°F. At this high temperature, they are easily flattened into a long sheet using a set of rollers, and then wound up into large coils. To make bars or plates, the heated billet is rolled to the desired thickness and cut into sections before cooling.

    As the rolled or cut steel cools to room temperature, it shrinks slightly, making the final dimensions of each piece less exact and the edges somewhat rounded. The surface is slightly rough and covered in scale. At this point, hot rolled steel products are ready for shipment, and require no further treatment.

    Cold Rolling Processes

    But cold rolled steel products are destined for further processing after the steel has cooled. Cold rolling is most often used to decrease the thickness of plate and sheet metal in the manufacturing stage. This “cold forming” occurs either by re-rolling at around room temperature and then coiling into sheet, or else drawing into bars or tubes. Additional steps such as drawing, grinding or turning create the desired finished product.

    Work hardening of the metal at room temperature increases its hardness and yield strength by introducing crystalline defects, but also may cause internal stresses that must be relieved by heating, or else the final product may warp.

    Finishing Touches

    Cold rolled or cold formed steel has a smooth, shiny finish with an oily texture that is free of rust or scale so it can easily be painted or chromed. The dimensions of the final product are more precise and square, with a sharper edge, and cold rolled steel sheet can hold tighter tolerances than hot rolled when machined or otherwise fabricated.

    In general, cold rolled and cold formed steel costs more than hot rolled steel because of the extra processing steps.

    Industrial Metal Supply stocks hot rolled steel in the form of structural shapes, bar, sheet or plate, as well as cold rolled steel structural shapes, sheet and plate.

    Guide to Understanding Abrasive Wheels

    Whether you are cutting off a frozen bolt, prepping for a weld, or you want to create a beautiful brushed pattern on stainless steel sheet, abrasive wheels are an essential tool for any welder or metal fabricator. IMS stocks a huge selection of abrasive metal wheels in all sizes, styles and varieties for cutting, grinding and finishing metal.

    Abrasive wheels are similar to sandpaper. They are made from powdered abrasive grains held together with a binder, such as resin, which also glues them to a fiberglass backing in the shape of a wheel. As the wheel rotates on a grinder it abrades the metal surface, causing sharp edges of the grains to either break off, leaving more sharp edges, or wear down. Gradually the worn grains are pulled out of the binder, exposing sharper grains in place behind them.

    This guide will help you select the right abrasive wheel, including the best choice of grain type and size, as well as binder material, for your application.

    The four primary types of grains used on abrasive wheels for metal include aluminum oxide, zirconia alumina, silicon carbide, and ceramic alumina:

    • Aluminum oxide grains are tough and hard-wearing, making this type of abrasive wheel a good choice for grinding metals such as steel, stainless steel and other ferrous metals.
    • Zirconia alumina grains also can be used to grind steel and steel alloys. It costs more but lasts longer than aluminum oxide. Zirconia is very heat resistant and is typically used for high pressure machining and grinding because the pressure causes the grains to break down quickly, exposing sharper edges.
    • Silicon carbide grains are very sharp, but break off easily under high pressure. They can be used for grinding softer or weaker metals, such as copper or cast iron, or non-metals such as cement or stone.
    • Ceramic alumina is a newer type of abrasive with a micro-grain structure that breaks down in smaller pieces, giving it a longer life and fast cut rate. This type of abrasive works well in a range of applications, from cast aluminum to titanium alloys.

    The different types of grains can also be blended, to create an optimal formula for specific metals and applications.

    Grit size, which reflects the size of the grains, is denoted on the wheel label. The larger the grit size, the smaller the grain. As with sandpaper, large or coarse grains take out larger chips from the metal, resulting in a rougher finish. The smaller the grain, the finer the finish. Also, larger grains are more appropriate for softer materials, such as low-carbon steel, while smaller grains should be used on harder alloys.

    Binder materials are graded by their ability to hold the grains. The stronger the binder, the longer the grains hold on, even though they have been dulled. This means that a weaker binder is a better choice for cutting strong, tough metals that require razor sharp abrasive grains. Many abrasive wheels used for standard metalworking use a resin binder.

    IMS stocks a varied line of abrasives including:

    • Metal cutting wheels – used with an angle grinder to make fast, clean cuts in steel, stainless steel and other metals.
    • Sanding discs – remove paint, rust, corrosion, surface marks and uneven edges to create a smooth finish.
    • Bench grinding wheels – use with a bench or pedestal grinder to remove metal, shape, sharpen or deburr.
    • Flap discs – a flat, circular abrasive disk made of multiple overlapping cloth-backed “flaps” joined at the center. Used with a grinding wheel to blend or finish a welded surface and prepare it for priming or painting.
    • Flap wheels – similar to a flap disk, but the flaps are arranged around a central hub in a three-dimensional tire shape. Used to create a smooth finish on curved metal.
    • Wire wheels – prepare welding surfaces by cleaning off spatter and excess filler material without removing base metal.
    • Shank mounted points – rotating abrasive points in a variety of shapes and materials allow fast, free-cutting stock removal, blending and polishing.
    • Carbide burrs – used with a grinder or in a CNC machine, these tungsten carbide rotary files with raised diagonal teeth are used for cutting, shaping, grinding and deburring.

    For more information about abrasive wheels for metal, contact IMS.