3M Abrasives Guide

3M Abrasives - Which One is Right for the Job?

3M makes multiple series of abrasives that are designed for specific jobs and budgets. The abrasives within a series share a common abrasive particle and attachment resin. This guide describes each series of abrasives and categorizes them as Good, Better, Best and Premium.  While all 3M abrasives are high quality, keep in mind that when picking an abrasive, generally the more expensive abrasives will make up for their higher price by reducing the amount of time it takes to complete your job. 

Using 3M Abrasives

  • 200 Series (Good) are general purpose, economy abrasives utilizing basic aluminum oxide particles. Aluminum oxide creates sharp particles, but they wear down relatively quickly. 200 Series abrasives are good for small jobs, but if you have a job that will take a lot of time, you should invest in a higher grade abrasive. 
  • 300 Series (Better) uses premium grades of aluminum oxide with more selective sorting, so these abrasives tend to wear out a little slower and are better suited for longer projects.
  • 400 Series (Better) uses silicon carbide particles that continually fracture for superior cutting, but wear out quickly as a result – so the scratch profile can vary over the life of the product.  400 Series abrasives are best suited for low heat applications such as wet sanding.
  • 500 Series (Better) utilizes alumina zirconia mineral and are commonly used on metal. The next step up in performance are the 900 Series with Cubitron.
  • 700 Series (Best) utilizes a blend of natural aluminum oxide and the synthetic Cubitron ceramic abrasive.
  • 900 Series (Best – including 985, 977 and 988 series) uses pure synthetic Cubitron, one of the hardest, longest-lasting abrasive minerals available. Cubitron particles are somewhat less sharp than aluminum oxide, but they are harder and wear down much slower. They are especially suitable for high heat applications - working on tough metal substrates, like cold rolled steel.
  • 900 Series (Premium – including 982, 984 and 987 series) uses the revolutionary 3M Cubitron II with precision-shaped ceramic grain technology. The original Cubitron synthetic abrasive has been re-engineered with ultra-sharp, fast-cutting, precision oriented points that wear evenly, run cool, and optimize mineral breakdown – for a consistent scratch pattern and to prolong disc or belt life, regardless of grinding pressure. Whether you are looking for faster productivity, longer life, or reduced heat on parts, Cubitron II metalworking abrasives outperform all competitive products – at a lower cost per grind. Cubitron

Additional useful information:

  • When you see the word “Stikit™”, it means this adhesive disc comes with a pressure sensitive adhesive-backing, with finer grits often supplied rolled in a bag; and coarser grits supplied flat in a box.
  • When you see the word “Hookit™”, it means this adhesive disc comes with a hook and loop type backing.  These discs come flat in a box.
  • With a few holdovers from older technologies, all dust-free and Clean Sanding 3M abrasive discs offered by Fisheries Supply have Hookit backings.
  • Open coat” abrasives have widely spaced mineral particles and work well with substrates that tend to load the disc or sheet. Coarse grit abrasives – typically used for heavy material removal – are often open coat.
  • Closed coat” abrasives have a condensed mineral pattern, and are best for harder substrates.
  • Abrasive backings can be any of several different materials. Among them are:
    • paper - ranging from light (A-weight) to heavy (F-weight);
    • film (typically mylar) which is more tear resistant than paper and produces especially flat discs in the fine grits;
    • cloth fabric of various weights (usually found in belts and some sheet products); and
    • resin reinforced fiber backings - used in grinding discs  - which are specifically designed to withstand the high heat generated by grinding.
  • If you have a job where "loading" is a problem, look for discs and sheets that feature an anti-loading stearate coating.
  • 3M "Clean Sanding" discs have a hole pattern that provides superior dust extraction, as well as longer disc life.  Surprisingly, abrasive discs with holes last longer than traditional solid discs, whether or not you use a vacuum!  Fisheries Supply offers a unique series of Clean Sanding discs with oversize holes for heavy material removal.  They are the ideal solution for removing bottom paint.

We hope this Navigator on abrasive materials has been helpful to you - but if you have any additional questions, please don't hesitate to contact our product experts at (800) 426-6930, or shop our huge variety of 3M abrasive products at fisheriessupply.com today!

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