Most people are aware of emery – the natural mixture of magnetite and corundum (aluminum oxide) – from tiny emery boards, those scratchy bits of drug store cardboard we use to file down hangnails and keep our fingernails kempt.
When it comes to abrasives, emery is one of the most versatile substances, finding its way into numerous applications where controlled abrasives are required. However, the supply of natural emery is limited and inconsistent. Manufacturing and scientific applications of the substance require much more precise compositions for a uniform grit, the level of abrasiveness in a substance.
By mixing high-quality magnetite with varying quantities of aluminum oxide, or corundum, manufacturers can create synthetic emery, opening up new applications across a wide spectrum of industries.
Sandblasting is the use of a fine-grit abrasive blasted with air through a nozzle to remove paints and coatings with minimal damage to the substrate. Extensively used in the automotive repair industry, sandblasting requires a uniform abrasive agent, the kind of abrasive provided by synthetic emery.
Using synthetic emery, manufacturers can control precisely the mix of magnetite and aluminum oxide, the size of the particles of each, and even the consistency of the agent by the introduction of other materials, such as silica. This precise level of control creates new products and new applications for existing products, including multi-layer coating removal and high-precision etching.
When it comes to the precision machining of metal, few if any techniques approach the precise cuts and high-quality edges of waterjet cutting. If you’ve ever seen an Apple iPhone, you’re familiar with the beauty and the detail made possible through the use of waterjet cutting.
In many waterjet cutting techniques, synthetic emery is added to the water to improve cutting power, allowing for this emerging metalworking technique to be used on an ever-increasing range of materials, including aluminum, glass, and even stainless steel.
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