May 15, 2019
Maximizing productivity and quality when cutting metal with a right-angle grinder depends on many factors, including choosing the right abrasive and using it properly.
While every operator is different in terms of skill level and technique, there are some common pitfalls that can arise when using cutting wheels that negatively impact wheel performance and life.
Consider these tips to help improve productivity and save time and money in metal cutting applications.
Tools for cutting metal
When an operator needs to make multiple cuts to a piece of metal with an offhand cutting tool, they are likely using a right-angle grinder or, in some specialized cases, a die grinder.
Right-angle grinders offer consistent control when cutting. The operator keeps the tool in their hands and moves it in line with the cut — making it less likely to apply force for leverage or twist the tool in the cut.
When choosing a cutting wheel, there are two profiles most commonly found in general fabrication and cutting applications. A type 27 cutting wheel, sometimes called a depressed center wheel, has a raised hub at the center. While this feature provides additional offset or clearance between the wheel and the tool, it reduces the amount of cutting surface, especially with wheels that are 4 1/2 inches or smaller in diameter. This limits the number of cuts the operator will get out of each wheel. The raised hub can also be an interference point, especially when the operator is cutting thicker material or is plunging the wheel too deeply into the workpiece. Type 27 wheels are also limited when working around extrusions, corners, or profiles. In comparison, a type 1 cutting wheel has a flat profile and an increased cutting surface, allowing the operator to complete more cuts per wheel.
Two specific applications for a type 27 cutting wheel are flush cutting and rip cutting. For most general-purpose cutting operations and materials, a type 1 wheel is suggested.
Type 1 cutting wheels are available in diameters from 2 to 9 inches. Type 27 wheels are typically not available in sizes smaller than 4 inches.
Tips to maximize productivity in cutting
There are several best practices operators can follow to maximize performance and efficiency of their cutting wheels. Here are six tips:
Improving performance in metal cutting
Choosing the right cutting wheel for the job often depends on the goals of the operation. If cut speed is most important, the operation will likely have to compromise a little on product life — and vice versa.
No matter what type and style of cutting wheel an operator selects, understanding how that product is designed to be used and following some best practices for technique can help extend operator safety and product life — as well as maximize performance and results.