Clean surfaces

By Lynn Stanley

Abrasives technology plugs profit drain caused by poor finishing and deburring methods

May 2017 - Silent film star Lon Chaney’s talent for metamorphosis earned him the nickname “The Man of a Thousand Faces.” In the metalworking industry, finishing also has “many different faces,” according to Tony Hufford, a category manager for Weiler Abrasives Group. The Cresco, Penn-sylvania-based company makes cutting and grinding wheels, flap discs and power brushes for use in markets that include metal fabrication and industrial manufacturing.

Customer service is built on quality, a quest for innovation and a skilled workforce. A large portion of Weiler’s business comprises finishing and deburring operations—an important step in numerous manufacturing processes and one that can be a deal breaker if not properly executed.

“Cleaning and finishing is more than just taking paint off or making metal shiny,” says Hufford. “It’s also about ensuring proper safety standards and product functionality. Depending on the application, finishing can play a critical role in a lot of industries.”

For example, high-volume production runs and precision parts for the automotive and aerospace markets demand finishing methods that can clean and debur small, complex surfaces. Structures like handrails need a smooth finish, guaranteed not to cause cuts or abrasions. Pipeline construction and pressure vessels carry requirements for cleaning and finishing between weld passes.

FFJ 0517 deburring image1

Weiler’s Roughneck Max Stringer Bead wheels were re-engineered to clean 40 percent faster and provide up to twice the brush life of previous models.

“If poorly done, cleaning and finishing can result in a deficient weld,” says Hufford. “Inclusions can be left behind and they are the enemy in multi-pass weld applications.” On a pressure vessel, for example, “a bad weld could mean catastrophic failure [in the field]. That’s why these welds are 100 percent inspected,” typically using ultrasonic or X-ray.

Tiny details

Paint won’t adhere to a weld that isn’t properly finished. “A piece of paint the size of a pinhead can fleck off a brand new backhoe or a commercial paver,” Hufford says. “It can be a large enough opening for water to get in and cause a major rust issue, such as drip lines.”

Reworking a weld or experiencing equipment failure is costly. Paying attention to proper cleaning and finishing the first time can help avoid these profit drains. Hufford says appropriate finishing is also about taking pride in one’s work. “I learned that from my Dad,” he notes. “He worked in the HVAC industry. He wiped off every solder joint. He didn’t have to, but he did it because he took pride in his work.”

Weiler is also committed to excellence and has developed cutting wheels that, in many cases, can eliminate the need for finishing. The industry standard thickness for “thin” cutting wheels has been 0.045 in. The thinner the wheel, the faster it wears away. Using its new Solid Core technology, Weiler developed a 1 mm cutting wheel called Tiger UltraCut that lasts just as long as its thicker cousins but cuts 20 percent faster. Smaller cuts remove less material, which produces fewer burrs. 

“If you can eliminate a processing step, such as deburring after a cut, it saves money,” Hufford explains. “There’s no need for secondary finishing, because you are able to cut clean.”

Weiler introduced Tiger UltraCut thin cutting wheels at Fabtech in 2016. Wheel density is higher, giving customers an option for longer life, reduced friction and enhanced stability. Time spent on changeovers is also reduced. The UltraCut is available in wheel diameters of 4.5 in. and 5 in. 

Weiler chose to construct wheel options with self-sharpening zirconia alumina grain and Inox. Zirconia alumina supports a high cut rate on thin gauge and small-diameter steel and stainless steel applications. Inox incorporates a contaminant-free bond to making cutting stainless parts worry free. 

“It’s like slicing through a stick of butter,” says Hufford. “There’s less chance of kickback, less friction and it’s easier on the operator. You get the benefits of a thinner cut with the advantages of the longer life enjoyed by the wheel’s thicker cousins. Any industry using thinner material, like sheet metal or tubing, will need to cut precise angles or cut-outs on projects. The UltraCut is a good fit for job shops, food service fabricators or transportation equipment. It’s worked really well in these applications.”

FFJ 0517 deburring image2

Weiler’s new UltraCut 1 mm wheels provide precise, quick and consistent burr-free cutting without sacrificing product life.


Weiler also upgraded its popular Roughneck 4-in. stringer bead wheels in 2016. The manufacturer wanted to extend the life of the products and enhance the consumable’s cleaning efficiency. The Stringer Bead wheels for the Roughneck Max are made with a new configuration of high tinsel wire capable of delivering 40 percent more cleaning power. 

An improved knot design more than doubles brush life. Operators can exert 20 percent less pressure during the cleaning process, reducing fatigue along with wire loss. “At the end of the day, this new design saves the customer time,” says Hufford. “The Roughneck Max reduces the time spent cleaning so it can be spent welding. These are available with carbon and stainless steel wire configurations.”

Weiler engineers noticed there was a need to create a brush that would clean “faster and more consistently over the life of the product,” he continues. “The stringer beads have tightly wound knots perfect for interpass weld cleaning. The configuration produces an aggressive brush that has the capability to clean out any type of inclusion in the weld between passes.”

This ability is especially important for pressure vessels and pipelines, Hufford says. The initial weld, known as the root pass, joins the pipe at the bottom of the V in the bevel where a standard 1⁄8 in. gap allows for full penetration. Root filler passes and a cap pass finish off the welded joint. 

“It is critical that all inclusions and debris are cleaned so that welding passes are able to completely penetrate or adhere to one another, making the weld stronger than the base or parent material,” he says.

The manufacturer just introduced Tiger Ceramic, a contaminant-free line of cutting, grinding and combination wheels for hard-to-cut and -grind metals such as stainless steel, Inconel, high nickel alloy, titanium and armored steel. Ceramic grain gives these wheels a longer life cycle and faster cutting speeds, which support higher material removal rates, cooler grinding, less friction and reduced heat discoloration of the work piece. 

The products are made with long lasting ceramic grains that employ a crystalline structure engineered with millions of pre-fracture points that self-sharpen at a higher rate than other common grains.

“People don’t want to choose inferior products,” Hufford says, explaining Weiler’s technology upgrades. “You want the right product for the job and you want it done right. That’s what we do at Weiler.” FFJ



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