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Flap Disc vs. Wire Wheel


When preparing a surface material for welding and post-weld washing, it is important to remove all surface contaminants. It saves time and money to remove as little material as possible between weld passes, as any material removed would inevitably need to be replaced by the most costly filler metal consumable.

During pre-weld surface preparation, removing too much of the base material may also influence the penetration of the weld, affecting the strength and integrity of the finished weld.

Choose the best surface preparation flap disc or wire wheels for cleaning the work surface. The correct tool provides effective, efficient results and helps you to spend more welding time and cleaning and fixing less time.

Flap Disc vs Wire Wheel

There is a large difference in the efficiency and function of the Wire wheel and flap disc on the basis of abrasive material. Abrasive materials coated flap disc are used for the removal of extra-base material, whereas wire wheel brushes are strongly preferred for surface preparation and to remove slag and scale. 

Coated abrasive flap disc is designed for numerous applications such as stock removal, edge beveling, chamfering, and weld grinding and blending. Likewise, a wire wheel brush is the best option in an application of the base material preservation during surface preparation and weld cleaning.

Common Tools in Welding Applications

The three most common tools used for surface preparation and cleaning in welding applications are:

  1. Bonded abrasives/grinding wheels
  2. Coated abrasives/flap discs
  3. Wire brushes and wheels

Bonded Abrasives/Grinding Wheels 

The output of a bonded abrasive based grinding wheel is determined by a combination of the grain type, grain size, and bonding agents (resins and adhesives). 

In general, bonded abrasives are more vigorous and easier to extract material. A skilled operator is needed to avoid damage, gouging, and undercutting. Grinding wheels mainly consist of aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, zirconia alumina, ceramic alumina, or the combinations of such grains.

The most common are aluminum oxide grinding wheels that are perfect for many applications. Products made with a ceramic and zirconia alumina combination cost more, but usually, have a larger overall life and removal of material. Materials such as armed steel, structural steel, cast iron, and alloys are a good choice for them.

Coated Abrasives/Flap Discs

Coated abrasives flap disc is consist of same grain types as used in bonded abrasives. Instead of the rough grinding wheel found on bonded abrasives, Coated abrasives bind the abrasive grains to a backing cloth, which is most commonly cotton, polyester, or blended backing. It is possible to cut this abrasive cloth into smaller flaps and radially layer it to form a flap disc. It is this layered structure that gives a much smoother, more flexible feel to flap discs.

As the grains exhaust, the flaps are built and placed to wear away, revealing new, clean, and sharp grains below. The vigorous cutting and grinding of flap disc are most efficient for grinding wheel; however, they often allow blending and finishing work, which is essential when the material needs to be painted, primed, or powder-coated.

Wire Wheels and Brushes

They are used for cutting, brushing, deburring, polishing, and finishing the surface. Wire wheels are motor-driven and may have an arbor hole to supports their use with grinding machinery, a form of the power brush.

Wire wheels are required to clean weld and other materials from the surface. The tips of wire brushes function like a small hammer for hitting and work surface preparation. To obtain maximum efficiency from the power brush it is necessary to apply optimum pressure. The unnecessary pressure can flex and bends the wires. This can lead to premature breakage of the wire and reduce brush life drastically.

Crimped-wire brushes are mainly used for paint and rust removal and deburring. It works less aggressively and more conformability. Crimped-wire brushes offer a smooth finish for surface preparation and paint adhesion.

Wheel brushes are designed to operate parallel to the work surface and are ideally suited to surface areas that are smaller and tighter. Because of their ability to clean a wider area in a single pass, cup brushes are ideal for covering larger, broader surface areas.

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