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What is an Abrasive Cloth?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 August 2016
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Abrasive cloth is a textile product used in grinding, polishing, sanding, and similar tasks. It is available from a number of manufacturers which produce a variety of weights, including specialty products which can be made for custom orders. This product is available directly from manufacturers and also through hardware stores and companies which stock products used in industrial processes.

The manufacture of abrasive cloth starts with the production of very tough, durable fabric. Synthetic or natural fibers can be used, as long as the fabric is extremely strong. Strength is critical to ensure that the cloth will hold up during use, when it will be subjected to friction, tensile stress, and pressure. Even with tough backing, abrasive cloth does break down with use.

The finished cloth is treated with sand, emery, or other abrasive materials. The level of abrasiveness can be adjusted by using various weights of abrasive materials in various concentrations. The abrasive materials are attached with the assistance of adhesives to hold them in place, and the fabric is allowed to dry and set before being coiled in rolls.

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Abrasive cloth rolls can be used in a variety of ways. For large scale grinding and polishing, companies may buy whole rolls and attach them to machines which feed the fabric along a production line to polish, sand, or grind a product. People can also use swatches of abrasive cloth for smaller-scale projects. The cloth may also be stretched over buffers and similar devices, used to provide an abrasive surface for finishing products which need to be polished or buffed.

The wear time of abrasive cloth varies. The quality of the cloth is a factor, as are the conditions in which it is used, how abrasive the cloth is, and whether or not the cloth is used continuously, or during isolated finishing tasks. The harder and more frequently the cloth is used, the quicker it breaks down.

People may find abrasive cloth more comfortable to use than sandpaper, for some applications. It is highly flexible, which is a distinct advantage, and some products will continue to function when wet or gummy. Like sandpaper, abrasive cloth is easy to cut to size for specific uses, and it is advisable to use several different weights for finishing. Rather than starting with the final weight desired, people should use coarse abrasive cloth to start polishing, gradually working their way up to a light weight for the final touches.

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