A lot of people who use grinding wheels overlook the benefits a flap wheel offers. Flap discs are very versatile abrasive tools that can be used in a wide range of applications – from finishing to grinding and stock removal. All of this makes flap wheels the preferable choice over grinding wheels, and if you’re considering abrasive wheels for your next project, flap wheels might be the solution you need. However, just as there are various different types of grinding wheels, there are various different types of flap wheels.
Flap discs are made of multiple pieces of abrasives and are designed for right angle grinder applications, such as heavy stock removal, smooth finishing and surface blending. The first abrasive flap wheel was developed around the end of the 70s and was pretty basic. Today’s versions, however, are very diverse. An abrasive flap wheel is easy to maneuver, lightweight and requires less change. They also have lower noise and vibration levels, which is what makes them the preferred choice for many operators.
Flap discs can be either conical or flat. Conical models are ideal for removing a lot of material quickly. They can be used on contoured applications and for edge-work. Conical flap discs feature angled flaps which as a result offer great surface areas for stock removal. Flat flap discs, on the other hand, are ideal for finishing and blending. They’re typically used on flat surfaces, and the flaps are adhered to a backing plate for increased stability.
The material the backing plate is made of is something you should consider before choosing a flap disc as well. The most commonly used materials are metal, plastic and fiberglass.
Metal is the safest choice and is great when you need firm support and extra strength. Aluminium is the most commonly used metal, but due to their high cost, you should use metal plates only when necessary. Fiberglass is another great option, simply because it’s safe, lightweight, strong and durable. It doesn’t contaminate the working surface and it absorbs vibration. Plastic backings are great for blending and finishing and are a very popular solution because of their low cost and conformability.
Lastly, there are various abrasive grit materials. Depending on the type of job you’re looking to do, the most commonly used abrasive grit types are ceramic alumina, zirconia alumina and aluminium oxide. Ceramic alumina is great for alloy metals and stainless steel applications. Zirconia alumina is great for mild steel and carbon applications, while aluminium oxide is ideal for smaller jobs where the produced product is of low value.