The New Grind

Every week seems to bring something new and exciting from 3M for us to distribute to the waiting world. Today I’m happy to introduce the latest wing of 3M safety products to be opened to us. It represents a bit of a branching out for us here at Enviro, expanding from the realm of protective and preventative equipment to the tools used in the workplace. In this case, we’re focusing on 3M’s line of abrasive systems.

 

The front of one of the promotional pamphlets for today’s products says “grind without compromise.” I like that. It simultaneously evokes the relentless day-to-day rhythm of the working life (“back to the old grind”) and ties the work ethic required to perform every day with the reliability of these products. That’s some rock-solid advertising. Let’s look at what’s underneath it.

 

3M spotlights two main lines of abrasive surface discs: Cubitron II and Scotch-Brite. These discs are designed for metalworking, specifically the grinding off of edges for a chamfered or beveled shape, removing unsightly weld residue, and so on.

 

Cubitron II is advertised as a family of abrasives that combines high grinding speed with more longevity than you’d expect from items that take so much abuse. A diagram zooms in on what makes Cubitron II special: using “microreplication” technology, they’ve designed the grain of the disc as an array of uniform peaks that slice through metal, where conventional grains are irregular and inefficient, causing the cut to be rougher and the product to wear out faster. The extreme zoom picture shows that Cubitron II grain looks like shark teeth, while standard products look like rough-hewn stones haphazardly arranged. Rather than dulling and blunting with wear, the microreplicated grain fractures into points without losing its sharpness. That’s an impressive feature, for sure.

 

Also available are generically 3M-branded discs at a lower price and slightly lower quality. These options represent a tradeoff: performance and price are both reduced, for situations where speed and luxury have to take a backseat to frugality and pragmatism. These are by no means bargain-bin products, however: their ratings are still high in all categories and the grain is still significantly more sophisticated than the competitors’, featuring a blend of standard and microreplicated “teeth.” The fact that these options exist show that 3M is committed to bringing the highest quality to the largest audience possible.

 

It’s probably clear by now that I’m no expert when it comes to this stuff. It’s to 3M’s credit that they organize this material such that even a mess like me can make sense of it. I see six basic categories of product in the Cubitron II section: fibre discs, cut and grind wheels, flap discs, cut-off wheels, and depressed center grinding wheels (DCGW). These are assembled in a table with nine specified uses: cutting, notching, gouging, fillet weld removal, beveling, flame cut smoothing, scale removal, weld removal, and contoured areas. I’ll be exploring each of these categories of product and their recommended uses in a later post.

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