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Metallographic Abrasive Cutting

metallographic abrasive blades

Metallographic Abrasive cutting (Click link to print this page)


ABRASIVE CUTTING


Selection Guidelines ] Process Description ] Recommended Procedures ] Troubleshooting ] Cutting Fluids ] Product Description ] Home ]



INTRODUCTION

Metallographic Abrasive blades  

The first step in preparing a specimen for metallographic or microstructural analysis is to locate the area of interest. Sectioning or cutting is the most common technique for obtaining this area of interest. Proper sectioning has the following characteristics:

DESIRABLE EFFECTS:
- Flat and cut close to the area of interest
- Minimal microstructural damage

UNDESIRABLE EFFECTS:
- Smeared (plastically deformed) metal
- Heat affected zones (burning during cutting)
- Excessive subsurface damage (cracking in ceramics)
- Damage to secondary phases (e.g. graphite flakes,
nodules or grain pull-out)

The goal of any cutting operation is to maximize the desirable effects, while minimizing the undesirable effects.

Sectioning can be categorized as either abrasive cutting and precision wafer cutting. abrasive cutting is generally used for metal specimens and is accomplished with silicon carbide or alumina abrasives in either a resin or resin-rubber bond. Proper blade selection is required to minimize burning and heat generation during cutting, which degrades both the specimen surface as well as the abrasive blades cutting efficiency. Wafer cutting is achieved with very thin precision blades. The most common wafering blades are rim-pressed abrasive blades, in which the abrasive is located along the edge or rim of the blade. Precision wafering blades most commonly use diamond abrasives, however cubic boron nitride (CBN) is also used for cutting samples that react to dull diamond (e.g. high carbon, heat treated steels cut more effectively with CBN as compared to diamond). Wafer cutting is especially useful for cutting electronic materials, ceramics and minerals, bone, composites and even some metallic materials.



ABRASIVE BLADE SELECTION GUIDELINES

Selecting the correct abrasive blade is dependent upon the design of the cut-off machine and, to a large extent, the operator preference. Abrasive blades are generally characterized by their abrasive type, bond type and hardness. Determining the correct blade is dependent upon the material or metal hardness and whether it is a ferrous or a nonferrous metal. In practice, it often comes down to odor and blade life. Resin/rubber blades smell more because the rubber will burn slightly during cutting, however resin/rubber blades do not wear as fast and therefore last longer. On the other hand, resin blades are more versatile and do not produce a burnt rubber odor, but they do break down faster. Resin blades also provide a modestly better cut because the cutting abrasive is continually renewed and thus produces a cleaner cut.

Also note that the traditional “older” technology for producing abrasive blades resulted in very specialized resin/rubber blades. Finding the proper resin/rubber hardness, abrasive size, and blade thickness to match the sample properties and the cutting machine parameter required a lot of testing and experimentation. Thus, in the past, resin/rubber blades had been more popular in the US market; however, in more recent years as resins have improved, there has been more of a trend towards resin bonded abrasives. Conversely, resin bonded blades have typically been more widely used in the European and Asian markets for quite some time.

Summary:
  • Resin bonded blades - less smell, higher wear, less sample burning, more versatile
  • Resin-rubber bonded blades - longer life, burnt rubber smell, more likely to burn the sample, more difficult to find the correct blade
Material Composition
Recommended Blade
Soft non-ferrous metals (aluminum, brass, zinc, etc.) Alumina/ resin bonded
MAX-E
Metallographic Abrasive Blades
Hard non-ferrou metals (titanium, zirconium, etc.) Silicon carbide / resin-rubber bond
MAX-C
Metallographic Abrasive Blades
Soft steels Alumina/ resin bonded
MAX-E
Metallographic Abrasive Blades
Hard and case hardened steels Alumina/ resin bonded
MAX-VHS
Metallographic Abrasive Blades
General purpose blade for steels and ferrous metals Alumina/ resin bonded
MAX-D
Metallographic Abrasive Blades
Universal thin resin/rubber blade Alumina / resin-rubber bond
MAX-A
Metallographic abrasive cutting
Industrial general purpose thin blade Alumina / resin-rubber bond
MAX-I
Metallographic abrasive cutting

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ABRASIVE CUTTING PROCESS DESCRIPTION

Abrasive sectioning has primarily been used for sectioning ductile materials. Examples include metals, plastics, polymer matrix composites, metal matrix composites, plastics and rubbers. The proper selection of an abrasive blade requires an understanding of the relationship between the abrasive particle, abrasive bonding and the specimen properties.

Abrasive Type - Today's high performance abrasive blades use alumina or silicon carbide abrasives. Alumina is a moderately hard and relatively tough abrasive which makes it ideal for cutting ferrous metals. Silicon carbide is a very hard abrasive which fractures and cleaves very easily. Thus, silicon carbide is a self-sharpening abrasive and is more commonly used for cutting nonferrous metals.

Bonding Material - The hardness and wear characteristics of the sample determine which resin system is the best-suited for abrasive cutting. In general, the optimum bonding material is one that breaks down at the same rate as the abrasive dulls; thus, exposing new abrasives for the most efficient and effective cutting operation.

Cutting coated samples - maintain coating in compression
For coated samples, maintain the coating in
compression when sectionining.

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RECOMMENDED ABRASIVE CUTTING PROCEDURES

  • Select the appropriate abrasive blade.
  • Secure specimen. Improper clamping may result in blade and/or specimen damage.
  • Check coolant level and replace when low or excessively dirty. Note abrasive blades break down during cutting and thus produce a significant amount of debris.
  • Allow the abrasive blade to reach its operating speed before beginning the cut.
  • A steady force or light pulsing action will produce the best cuts and minimize blade wear characteristics, as well as maintain sample integrity (no burning).
  • When sectioning materials with coatings, orient the specimen so that the blade is cutting into the coating and exiting out of the base material, thereby keeping the coating in compression.

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CUTTING FLUIDS

Lubrication and swarf removal during abrasive cutting and diamond wafer cutting are required in order to minimize damage to the specimen. For some older abrasive cutters, the proper cutting fluid can also have the added benefit of coating cast iron bases and the fixtures in order to reduce or eliminate corrosion.

TIP: Most abrasive cutters have a hood, which can produce a corrosive humidity chamber when not in use. In order to reduce these corrosive effects, keep the hood open when not in use.

Abrasive Cutting Fluid - The ideal cutting fluid for abrasive cutting is one that removes the cutting swarf and degraded abrasive blade material. It should have a relatively high flash point because of the sparks produced during abrasive sectioning.

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ABRASIVE SECTIONING TROUBLESHOOTING
  • Improper sample clamping
  • Too rapid a cut
  • Symptom

    Cause

    Action

    Chipped or broken blade

  • Secure sample properly
  • Reduce cutting force
  • Secure sample properly
  • Reduce cutting force
  • Bluish burnt color on specimen

  • Incorrect cutting fluid
  • Improper blade or excessive force
  • Use proper cutting fluid
    Consult applications guideline or use a blade with a softer resin

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    ABRASIVE BLADE PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS

    Abrasive Blades (32 mm / 1.25-inch arbor) (Qty 10 per package)

    Description

    10-inch

    12-inch
    14-inch

    16-inch

    Soft non-ferrous materials (aluminum, brass, zinc, etc.)

    MAX-E250

    MAX-E300

    MAX-E350

    MAX-E400

    Hard non-ferrous materials (titanium, zirconium, etc.)

    MAX-C250

    MAX-C300

    MAX-C350

    MAX-C400

    Soft steels

    MAX-E250

    MAX-E300

    MAX-E350

    MAX-E400

    Hard and case hardened steels

    MAX-VHS250

    MAX-VHS300

    MAX-VHS350

    MAX-VHS400

    General steels and ferrous metals

    MAX-D250T

    MAX-D300

    MAX-D350

    MAX-D400

    Universal Thin Blade

    MAX-A250

    MAX-A300

    MAX-A350

    MAX-A400

    Industrial general purpose thin blade

    MAX-I250

    MAX-I300

    MAX-I350

    MAX-I400


    Abrasive Cutting Fluid

    Description

    Quantity

    Part No.

     

    MAXCUT Cutting Fluid
    (32 oz)

    32 oz

    MAXCUT-1000-32

    Metallographic MAXCUT cutting fluid

    MAXCUT Cutting Fluid
    (1/2 gallon)

    1/2 gallon

    MAXCUT-1000-64

    MAXCUT Cutting Fluid
    (1 gallon)

    1 gallon

    MAXCUT-1000-128

    MAXCUT Cutting Fluid
    (5 gallons)

    5 gallons

    MAXCUT-1000-5G

    MAXCUT 2 Cutting Fluid
    (32 oz)

    32 oz

    MAXCUT2-1000-32

    Metallographic cutting flluid

    MAXCUT 2 Cutting Fluid
    (1/2 gallon)

    1/2 gallon

    MAXCUT2-1000-64

    MAXCUT 2 Cutting Fluid
    (1 gallon)

    1 gallon

    MAXCUT2-1000-128

    MAXCUT 2 Cutting Fluid
    (5 gallons)

    5 gallons

    MAXCUT2-1000-5G


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