Coated abrasives consist of an abrasive material that has been bonded onto a flexible material. The materials onto which the abrasive material is adhered needs to be durable enough to withstand the force and pressure created when using coated abrasives on a machine or power tool.
The flexible material or backing on the underside of the coated abrasives can be made from paper, cloth, vulcanised fibre, polyester and plastic. The backing materials can range from very thick to very thin and some are more flexible than others depending on the application. Lighter backing materials used for abrasive coatings are generally thinner to facilitate enough flexibility during operation. Thicker backing materials are generally used for coarser abrasive coatings that may be required for larger projects.
Belt sanders that use abrasives coated onto a type of bendable belt usually use a material or cloth like backing for additional flexibility. Some backing materials are specifically created to have small holes or openings between the material and the coated abrasive. This is to allow small particles of the sanded object to flow freely through these holes and not congest the abrasives coated side with debris. This prolongs the use of the coated abrasive surface.
Coated abrasives are manufactured in various shapes and sizes, from small round discs, sheets and belts to large rolls. The grit sizes of coated abrasives vary from very fine to very course. There are numerous abrasive materials used to create different abrasive grains or grit sizes which are usually heat bonded to the backing material. Some natural abrasive materials include emery and garnet. Synthetic abrasives coated include zirconia and aluminium oxide.
Coated abrasives are extremely popular and easy to work with because once an abrasive coat is worn during use; it can quickly and easily be discarded and replaced by new coated abrasive disc or belt.