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The Role Of Abrasives in the Shipbuilding Industry


Role Of Abrasives in the Shipbuilding

We should be aware that marine abrasive materials are crucial to the advancement of industry, both now and in the future. The space used for human activity is made up of land and water together, with the ocean taking up the majority of the area. For a very long time to come, the growth of the shipbuilding sector will take precedence. This also indicates that the shipbuilding sector is a significant one. In the shipbuilding sector, abrasive materials are mainly used for coatings, painting, and sandblasting, among other processes.


Ships have long been sandblasted using powdered abrasive materials, but recently, several shipyards have started looking for alternatives. For instance, the steel plate's oxide scale and rust are removed from its surface using steel shot peening technology. A primer sprayed in the spraying workshop then protects the steel plate against rusting during the shipbuilding process.

The number and size of segments have expanded along with the growth in shipbuilding. Currently, the need for secondary rust removal cannot be met by the sectional brick spraying rooms of different enterprises. As a result, an increasing number of manufacturers have started using the outdoor copper slag spraying method.


Because much of the parts' final assembly happens inside the ship, work is frequently done in small, difficult-to-reach areas, frequently with short contract deadlines.

The work location may be hundreds of feet from the power supply, so the operator may need to crawl or walk through the ship's ballast with tools and equipment. Proper cutting and grinding equipment may not always be the ideal choice when work is being done far from the power source.

Many operators prefer air (pneumatic) tools over electrical ones. However, if the compressed air line is extended far, the pressure may be insufficient to operate the tool correctly, necessitating the use of abrasives. If air tools are underpowered, they will bog down more easily than electric right-angle grinders when attempting to maintain surface speed. Using a grinding or cutting wheel with a soft bond can help maximize performance in both situations when an air tool or an electric tool is underpowered.


In the line fabrication, finishing, or painting portions of a shipyard operation, handheld instruments like air and electric right-angle grinders and die grinders are most frequently used for activities like weld prep, cleaning in between weld passes, and post-weld cleaning and finishing.

There are many different products and handheld tool options available. Selecting the appropriate tool and accessory for a given task can lead to increased productivity and labor savings, even when operators occasionally go for the most convenient option. A number of important considerations must be made in order to choose the optimum solution.

  • CLIENT REQUIREMENTS - Will the finished project be a commercial vessel or part of a military fleet? This significantly affects the final specs as well as any rules or specifications, such as the kinds of coatings that can be added to the ship. The first step in choosing the right tool and accessories is to comprehend the ultimate specs.
  • KIND OF MATERIAL—Although carbon steel and aluminum are frequently used for shipbuilding components, operators may also encounter other metals. Make sure you use an abrasive product made specifically for that metal and are aware of the sort of material being worked on. Use materials created exclusively for steel on aluminum or stainless steel to prevent cross-contamination. Furthermore, never use a product intended for use on steel, aluminum, or stainless steel. Instead, use it on steel.
  • WORKING CONDITIONS AND SURROUNDINGS - When cutting and grinding in these tight spaces, it's vital to weigh which is more important: product longevity or speed of completion. Using a rapid cutting or grinding product that only lasts for 15 minutes before needing to be replaced is not very efficient if it takes the operator 30 minutes to get to the point of work and they need more tools to carry to the site. In this case, using a more robust product—like a ceramic disc—can save money and time.

Although battery-operated tools are becoming more common in these applications, their battery life needs to be improved for long workdays in production settings. With cordless tools, using an extremely thin cutting or grinding wheel—such as one millimeter thick—helps minimize tool strain and increases battery life.


A broad range of abrasives, including wire brushes, nonwoven abrasives, and coated and bonded abrasives, are utilized in shipbuilding applications. For instance, resin fiber discs can be used to remove extra material and expose bare metal so that the operator can reapply any necessary coatings. In contrast, wire brushes are commonly used to remove the discoloration that accumulates on aluminum after welding. Pros and drawbacks exist for each product category based on the particular task.


Grinding wheels and other bond-bonded abrasives can be used to grind down items to guarantee uniformity or to remove heavy mill scale before welding. Cutting wheels can also be used for plunge cuts, such as cutting out a window in a big piece of metal. They are also frequently used to achieve full penetration and facilitate examination by edging into the top and bottom of welds.


Flap discs and resin fibre discs are two examples of coated abrasives frequently used as accessories in shipbuilding. They can be used to grind, blend, remove oxidation, and finish welds. Unlike bonded abrasives, coated abrasives cut quickly and don't tend to slow down or load up.


Wheel, cup, and end brushes are just a few of the various sizes and configurations available for power wire brushes. These materials are frequently used for post-weld cleaning or to eliminate spatter between weld passes. The task at hand determines which kind of power brush is best. For instance, end brushes work well at cleaning fillet welds and tight areas.

Occasionally, air tool operators will opt for a needle scaler over a wire brush, mainly when dealing with heavy dirt or rust. Although needle scalers are significantly slower than wire brushes to complete a task, they do have a longer lifespan and are effective at removing heavy materials. An operation that uses needle scalers ought to take into account the considerable productivity increases that wire brushes could provide for those kinds of jobs.


Once the correct product has been chosen for the job, a few simple recommended practices can help improve performance and extend the life of the attachment.

  1. On the job site, steer clear of utilizing too-long air hoses or power cords for hand-held electric or air equipment, as this may decrease power and performance. If you have no choice but to use a long power cable or air hose, keep in mind that some abrasive attachments perform better and more effectively with reduced power or air pressure than others. Recognize the pressure at a specific workstation in order to make wise choices.
  2. While it could be tempting, particularly in cramped, difficult-to-reach areas, resist the urge to use the same accessory for every task. Additionally, operators could reach for the same product they've always used without thinking about how alternative items might lead to better outcomes. Matching suitable abrasive products to the task can enhance operator safety, productivity, and performance.
  3. Always follow the correct procedures when using abrasive products. Using a tool guard and any other required safety equipment falls under this. Since goods usually operate better when used at the intended angle, speed, pressure, and orientation to the material, proper operator training can also help reduce the labor time spent cutting and grinding.
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