Company provides heat solution for stainless steel industry

1st June 2012 By: Yolandi Booyens

Technology company 3M reports a growing interest in its abrasives system technology, which assists in reducing the risks associated with heat build-up in the stainless steel industry.

Cubitron II abrasives comprise aluminium oxide triangles, which are precisely shaped, uniformly sized and vertically orientated. These self-sharpening triangles are designed to fracture as they wear and to continuously form new sharp points and edges that cleanly slice through metal, instead of gouging or plowing.

The product is used for the grinding and finishing of stainless steel, mild steel, carbon steel, forged steel, Inconel and Nimonic alloys.

Product manager of 3M Dylan Hunter says the Cubitron II technology decreases the risk of discoloration and distortion in the shape and chemical structure of stainless steel when exposed to heat, as it prevents heat build-up.

As the abrasive stays cooler and sharper, it lasts up to four times longer than conventional ceramics, he adds.

Conventional ceramic abrasive grain is irregular and has a blocklike shape, which causes heat to build up in the workpiece and the abrasive, resulting in a slower cut, a shorter belt life and other undesirable effects, such as burnishing.

Hunter states that the Cubitron II tech- nology provides a faster cut as a result of the incorporation of 3M’s new grain technology to form precisely shaped triangles of ceramic aluminium oxide.

The product was developed at 3M’s US headquarters in St Paul, Minnesota, in 2010, and entered the South African market towards the end of last year.

“Cubitron II has resulted in significant cost savings for companies as well as a 50% reduction in belt changeover time. This product holds great benefits for the stainless steel industry,” Hunter states.

He provides an example of a trailer manu- facturer that used to complete weld grinding and bevelling in a 47-minute cycle using conventional abrasives that incorporated the use of a bonded disc and fibre. After the Cubitron II had been introduced into the manufacturer’s grinding and bevelling process, the need for a bonded disc was eliminated and the cycle was reduced by 24 minutes.

Meanwhile, the 3M abrasives system division is exploring surface conditioning technologies, which it believes will significantly improve the quality of steel outputs, as well as the time in which this is produced.

The company has been a member of the Southern Africa Stainless Steel Development Association (Sassda) since 2000.