April 24, 2019

Why Use IDEAL Abrasive Technology for Automotive Polishing?

Saint-Gobain is one of the world’s leading industrial corporations, providing solutions for the problems of today and the challenges of the future. Innovative materials engineering represents one of the key ways we aim to improve daily life. Our primary high-performance materials include plastics, abrasives, ceramics, and specialty grains and powders. These materials are loaded with value-added functionalities that meet the specific needs of our customers. This is based on an intrinsic understanding of the underlying technologies alongside the end-product conditions.

In this blog post, we will focus on Saint-Gobain’s abrasive technology, with a focus on alumina (Al2O3) abrasive grains for automotive applications.

Outlining Our Abrasive Technology

At Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning, we specialize in abrasive technology for surface preparation and finishing applications. This includes mesh and micron diamond, cubic boron nitride (CBN), ceramic oxide abrasives, diamond slurries, and more. We specialize in the customization of particles and chemistries to develop tailored formulations that meet strict specifications. This is all achieved at our one-of-a-kind development laboratory called the Launchpad; equipped for providing the tailored solutions for challenging specifications.

Automotive Abrasive Technology

Automotive finishing often uses standard calcined alumina, or earthen minerals, as the abrasive particle in a polishing compound. Although these are cheap, they are not necessarily the most cost-efficient option due to the need for high compound solids loading to achieve acceptable cutting performance, which leads to other undesired attributes. In addition, traditional calcined alumina and mined minerals have limited options for engineered customization, primarily only being able to modify particle size distribution (PSD).  The inability to control the morphological and microstructural characteristics of the abrasive, make it difficult to fine-tune the performance of the final product.

Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning operates in a collaborative application-driven product development process for each abrasive technology that we offer. We measure the performance of automotive polishing in a controlled environment as a function of four primary factors: pad, compound, method, abrasive, and substrate.

The performance of a distinct abrasive material is primarily determined by its composition, morphology, microstructure, PSD, and aggregating behavior. We have observed that mechanical and/or electrostatic aggregation of particles in a polishing compound results in poor cutting efficiency, demanding a higher solids loading, and extended polishing times to achieve the required surface finish. Such inefficiencies diminishing the performance and increasing the overall cost. 

As we optimize our abrasive technology, we measure their true cutting performance in weight loss as a function of time (e.g. g/min).  Progressing beyond simple PSD and phase control has enabled us to push the bounds of performance, increasing cut rate while maintaining or improving the surface finish.  This has yielded a series of industry-leading alumina abrasive particles that are IDEAL for automotive polishing. While these accomplishments are significant, we continue to combine our learned knowledge, processing capabilities and performance measurement techniques to push for the next generation of abrasive particles for automotive polishing.  

Choosing Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning

Saint-Gobain Surface Conditioning is an industry-leader in abrasive technology for surface preparation and finishing. We specialize in the synthesis of custom abrasive particles for numerous chemistries and applications. If you have any questions about our competencies and products, feel free to contact us directly.