In metal fabrication and manufacturing operations, various tools use cutting wheels to cut material from a workpiece.
What is a cutting wheel? Cutting wheels, or cut-off wheels, differ from grinding wheels in their function and structure. Where grinding wheels use an abrasive to grind large pieces of material off a workpiece from a shallow angle, cutting wheels typically make narrow, precise cuts at 90-degree angles. Consequently, cutting wheels are often thinner than grinding wheels — though they do not have the lateral strength required for side grinding, their minimal thickness makes them better forclean, accurate cuts.
Weiler Abrasives offers several cutting wheels for different applications. We provide everything from 1-millimeter cutting wheels to extended-diameter wheels for larger cuts. This guide to cutting wheels covers the differences between various types of cutting wheels and explains how to choose the right wheel for a given application.
TYPES OF CUTTING WHEELS
Cutting wheels come in a few different types. Some common types are type 1, type 27, type 41,and type 42, where the various numbers signify the wheels' different shapes and properties.
TYPE 1 CUTTING WHEEL (TYPE 41 CUTTING WHEEL)
A type 1 cut-off wheel, also known as a type 41 cut-off wheel, is completely flat. It is typically considered themost efficient type of wheelfor general all-purpose cutting. Because it lacks a depressed center, it provides more cutting surface and minimizes interference with the workpiece.
The flat profile helps create deep 90-degree cuts into a workpiece. It allows for the maximum depth of a 90-degree cut at the expense of a small amount of visibility for the operator. Though their straight profile and the way they mount close to the guard can diminish visibility for the operator, type 1 cutting wheels are exceptionally useful in grinders, die grinders, high-speed saws, stationary saws, and chop saws.
TYPE 27 CUTTING WHEEL (TYPE 42 CUTTING WHEEL)
Instead of being completely flat, a type 27 cut-off wheel, also known as a type 42 cut-off wheel, has a depressed center. The depressed center allows for added clearance when the operator is working at a constrained angle, though it gives the wheel limited cutting ability when working aroundcorners, profiles,or extrusions. The depressed shape allows for a raised hub as well to hold the wheel securely in place.
The profile of a depressed-center cutting wheel gives the operator a better view of the cut, and it provides the ability to flush-cut because the raised hub means the locking nut can be recessed. Type 27 cutting wheelsare designed for right angle grinders.
CUTTING WHEEL MATERIALS
Cutting wheels typically contain a few different materials — primarily the grains that do the cutting, the bonds that hold the grains in place,and the fiberglass that reinforces the wheels.
The grains within the abrasive of a cutting wheel are the particles that perform the cutting.
Grains may come in several types. Common types of grains for cutting wheels includeceramic alumina, zirconia alumina, aluminum oxide, and silicon carbide.
- Ceramic alumina:Ceramic alumina performs exceptionally well on steel, stainless steel,and other hard-to-cut metals, includinginconel, high nickel alloy, titanium and armored steel.When used and maintained properly, it offers a superior lifespan and cut, and it tends to cut cooler than other grains, so it reduces heat discoloration.
- Zirconia alumina:Zirconia alumina provides superior cutting for steel, structural steel, iron,and other metals, and it is ideal for rail cuttingand other heavy-duty applications.It offers a fast cut and a long lifeand holds up under extreme pressure.
- Aluminum oxide:Aluminum oxide is one of the most common abrasive grains.It provides afast initial cut rate and consistent performance for steel and other metal.
- Silicon carbide:Silicon carbide is an extremely hard grainthat produces very sharp and fast cutting.However, it is also friable,meaning it isnot as tough as other grains.
The grain's grit helps determine its physical and performance properties as well. The grit refers to the size of the individual abrasive particles, in the same way sandpaper grains receive classification by their size. Grit sizes range from 16 to 60, with smaller numbers indicating larger, coarser particles and larger numbers indicating smaller, finer particles.
The bond of a cutting wheel is the substance that holds the abrasive grains in place.
Manufacturers often refer to the grade, or hardness, of a wheel. The grade signifies not the hardness of the abrasive grains themselves but the hardness of the bond holding them in place. Generally, under identical conditions, a harder bond means the cutting wheel will have a longer lifespan, whereas a softer bond means the cutting wheel will have a shorter lifespan.
A softer bond does provide certain advantages — it sheds its grains more rapidly to provide a faster cut. With a stronger bond, the bond may hold the grains in place after they have become worn. A softer bond releases them faster to reveal fresh, sharp grains more often and increase the wheel's cut rate.
With certain metals, it is important not to introduce contaminants into the metal when cutting. When cutting stainless steel and aluminum,always make sure the abrasivecontains less than 0.1% of chlorine, iron, and sulfur, ensuring it is contaminant-free.Contaminant-free products will have identifying labels.
One ofthe bonds commonly used with abrasive grainsfor cutting wheelsis resinoid.Resinoid bonds contain organic compounds. They tend to have better shock resistance than other types of bonds and can withstand operation at elevated peripheral speeds. They are ideal for cut-off applications, and they allow for self-sharpeningby exposing new grains. Some specialized bonds are resin-over-resin bonded. These bonds provide additional moisture and heat resistance, as well as a stronger overall bond to make better use of the grains.
Cutting wheels contain fiberglass that may providesingle, double,or triple reinforcement. Single reinforcement relies on a single layer of fiberglass and is useful for delivering exceptional cutting speed while reducing burrs on the workpiece.Double and triple reinforcementusemultiple layers of fiberglass to provide added support for high-vibration and heavy-duty industrial applications.
At Weiler Abrasives, all our cutting wheels for right angle and die grinders have two layers of reinforcement.We do offer some single-reinforcement wheels in our large-diameter chop saw line andsome triple-reinforced wheels in our new high-speed gas and electric saw wheel line.
SELECTING CUTTING WHEEL SIZE
With cutting wheels, the tool the operator has access to will often determine the wheel size, and selecting the correct size for the given application is also essential. Choosing the correct size involves calculating the right rate of revolutions per minute (RPMs) — the RPM rating of the cutting wheel shouldmatch or exceedthe RPM rating on the grinder that will use it.In addition toverifying theRPM rating, it is also important to ensure that the wheel fitson the tool without interfering withorremoving the guard.
CUTTING WHEEL DIAMETER
A wheel's RPM rating tends to correspond with its diameterand the tool it is designed for. Common cutting wheel diameters range from 2 to 4 inches for die grinders, 4 to 9 inches for angle grinders, and 12 to 20 inches for chop, stationary, or high-speed saws.
CUTTING WHEEL THICKNESS
The right wheel thickness often depends on the precision and accuracy necessary for the cut. For a highlyprecisecut, a thinner wheel can perform with greater accuracy and precision.Theycut more quicklyand generate less heat.Thinner wheels alsoremove less materialwith each cut,which is ideal when making repairs or fitting up parts. The tradeoff is that they tend not to last as long as thicker wheels under identical conditions. In applications where precision and accuracy are not as critical but longevityis, a thicker wheel may be suitable.
Weiler Abrasives offers two ultra-thin high-performance cutting wheels — the Tiger® Zirc Ultracut 1-millimeter and the Tiger Inox Ultracut 1-millimeter. Both of these cutting wheels come in 4 1/2- or 5-inch diameters. The Tiger Zirc Ultracut 1-millimeter offers anultra-fastcutting rate and long life, and it is ideal for cuttingthin sheet metal, tubes, profiles,andsmall cross-section rods.The Tiger Inox Ultracut 1-millimeter is ideal for stainless steel because it is contaminant-free.
Weiler Abrasives has an exciting new line of chop, stationary,and high-speed saw wheels as well. The chop saw wheels have a 3/32-inch thickness, and the high-speed saw wheels and stationary saw wheels have a 1/8-inch thickness. Thesecutting wheels are ideal forcutting applications in themetal fabrication, construction, and rail industries, and some of the specialized models can provide precise rail cutting,burr-free cutting,and stud cutting forheavy-duty applications.
CUTTING WHEEL APPLICATIONS
So far, we've discussed how types 1, 27, 41,and 42 cutting wheels offer distinctive shapes for different cutting applications. We've delved into the various common grains used in cutting wheels and how they are optimized for use on different metals, and we've explored the way diameter and thickness affect wheel speed and precision. Now let's look into a few applications for industrial and professional cutting wheels and how to choose the right wheels for these uses.
In general metal fabrication, 0.045-inch wheel diameters are common choices. With thinner materials, an operator may want to choose a 1-millimeter wheel instead for greater precision, less heat generation,and fewer burrs that will require removal before welding. The choice of grain will likely depend on the material composition of the workpiece —higher-performinggrains for structural steel and difficult-to-cut metals, contaminant-freewheelsfor stainless steel.
In metal pipe fabrication, the choice of cutting wheel often depends on the diameter of the pipe to be cut. For a 3/4-inch or smaller pipe, a4 1/2-inch diameterwill usually be sufficient. For a pipe of up to 2 1/2 inches, a 6-inch cutting wheel is effective, and for a pipe of up to 3 1/2 inches, a 9-inch cutting wheel is often most suitable. It's also advisable to choose the thinnest wheel possible to minimize heat and friction and to use a type 1 wheel for a deeper cut unless the application imposes a particular constraint.For larger pipe often found on the pipeline, a depressed-center cutting wheel provides added clearance when working at a constrained angle,and0.045-inchwheel thickness is ideal for cutting applications in fabrication yards or on the right of way for field repairs.
When an operator is working on the confined, hard-to-access spaces of a ship, making a cutting wheel last as long as possible is often a priority. For thisreason, the operator will often want to choose a harder, potentially longer-lastingwheel like Tiger Ceramic.However, when operators must use air tools whose hoses have stretched over long distances to access difficult areas of the ship, the tools may be underpowered. In this case, wheels with a soft bond will be ideal because they make it easier to maintain a fast cut.In shipbuilding, theworkmaterialoften influences thecutting wheel selection. When working withaluminum,an operator maywant to select a cutting wheel thatwill not load or gum up, like Tiger Aluminum.
Preparing for welding typically involves exact metal cutting. With a basic cut-off operation, precision is not critical, but with complex work or repairs that need to preserve the initial aesthetic qualities of the material,precision can save time and money.Using a0.045-inch cutting wheel— a little more than a millimeter thick — iscommon in weldingto allow for precise and accurate cuts.Forprecise cuts on thin sheet metal, profiles, and small diameter rods, a 1-millimeter UltraCut wheel will provide smooth cutting and exceptional control for clean,ultra-precise cuts.
Modern railways usehard-to-cut alloysteels,so a high-performance cutting wheel is necessary for high-speed gas saws. A self-sharpeningzirconia alumina grain that retains a high cutting performance throughout the life of the wheel offers excellent performance. The Tiger Zirc 14- and 16-inch cutting wheels are designed specifically for high-speed gas saws and deliver the high-performance solutionsneeded to increase productivity and profitability.
Building and construction sites feature awide variety of metal cutting applications.Operators often look for a wheel that can do it all,from cutting off rebar tomakinglong cuts on sheetmetal.Many times,an aluminum oxide wheel providesthe right mix of versatility, performance, and price.The Tiger AO line offers both flat and depressed-center cutting wheels invarioussizes for die and right angle grinders. The Tiger AO line also expands into larger sizes from 12 to 16 inches for chop saws and high-speed gas and electric saws.
Theselarge-diameter cutting wheelshaveseveral signature wheels designed with the construction industry in mind. For chop saws, the line includes a wheel designed for stud cutting and options for burr-free cutting that feature a single layer of fiberglass. The high-speed saw offeringincludeswheels with three layers of fiberglass for added supportinheavy-duty cutting applications.
PARTNER WITH WEILER ABRASIVES FOR QUALITY CUTTING WHEELS
To see the benefits of superiorcutting wheelsin your industrial and professional operations, make Weiler Abrasives your trusted source for surface conditioning solutions. Our cutting wheels come in various types, grains, bonds, diameters, thicknesses, specialized features,and price points, so we can help you find the wheels or small cutting discs that are right for your applications.
The value you'll receive extends far beyond the purchase of a cutting wheel. Our Value Package offers additional advantages such as safety training to facilitate the safe and effective use of your cutting wheel and direct field support to answer your questions and help you make your facility more efficient and productive.
Contact ustoday to learn more.
I am an expert in metal fabrication and manufacturing operations, particularly in the field of cutting tools and abrasives. With a background in engineering and hands-on experience in various industrial settings, I have a deep understanding of the intricacies involved in selecting the right tools for different applications.
In the provided article, the focus is on cutting wheels, their types, materials, and applications, and I am well-equipped to elaborate on each concept presented:
Cutting Wheels Overview:
- A cutting wheel, or cut-off wheel, is a tool used in metal fabrication and manufacturing to cut material from a workpiece.
2. Function and Structure:
- Cutting wheels differ from grinding wheels in their function and structure.
- Grinding wheels grind large pieces of material from a shallow angle, while cutting wheels make narrow, precise cuts at 90-degree angles.
Types of Cutting Wheels:
3. Type 1 Cutting Wheel (Type 41 Cutting Wheel):
- Completely flat, efficient for general-purpose cutting.
- Provides more cutting surface without a depressed center.
- Ideal for grinders, die grinders, high-speed saws, stationary saws, and chop saws.
4. Type 27 Cutting Wheel (Type 42 Cutting Wheel):
- Has a depressed center for added clearance.
- Suitable for working at constrained angles.
- Designed for right angle grinders.
Cutting Wheel Materials:
- Different grains include ceramic alumina, zirconia alumina, aluminum oxide, and silicon carbide.
- Each grain type is optimized for cutting specific materials and offers varying levels of performance.
- The bond holds the abrasive grains in place.
- Bond hardness affects the cutting wheel's lifespan and performance.
- Resinoid bonds are commonly used, providing shock resistance and self-sharpening.
- Cutting wheels contain fiberglass for reinforcement.
- Single, double, or triple reinforcement for different applications.
- Fiberglass enhances cutting wheel durability and performance.
Selecting Cutting Wheel Size:
8. Cutting Wheel Diameter:
- Selection based on the tool and RPM rating.
- Common diameters range from 2 to 20 inches for different tools.
9. Cutting Wheel Thickness:
- Thickness affects precision, heat generation, and material removal.
- Thinner wheels for precision, thicker wheels for longevity.
Cutting Wheel Applications:
10. General Fabrication:
- Common choices for thin materials, with considerations for precision and material composition.
11. Pipe Fabrication:
- Wheel size selection based on pipe diameter, thickness, and application constraints.
- Choosing wheels based on confined spaces, hardness, and work material.
13. Welding Preparation:
- Precision cutting for welding preparation, with considerations for material and application.
- High-performance wheels for cutting alloy steels in high-speed gas saws.
- Versatile wheels for various metal cutting applications in construction settings.
Partnering with Weiler Abrasives:
16. Weiler Abrasives:
- Offers a range of cutting wheels with various features and sizes.
- Emphasizes the importance of selecting the right wheel for specific applications.
As an enthusiast with a comprehensive understanding of these concepts, I can provide further insights and answer any questions related to cutting wheels and their applications in the metal fabrication industry.