Differences between traditional and ceramic abrasives

Abrasives are a consumable material of great importance in the workshop, as they are used in practically all phases of vehicle repair.

Abrasives are a consumable material of great importance in the workshop, as they are used in practically all phases of vehicle repair. Thanks to them, we can shape fillers, achieve a particular finish, open pores in coatings to ensure adhesion, and even polish surfaces to optimize their finish.

That is why abrasive technology has a direct impact on the quality and profitability of any repair. And under these premises, manufacturers are looking for improved abrasive options to contribute to the improvement of work processes in the repair shop. Within this search, one of the achievements are ceramic abrasives, but are you familiar with this type of abrasive? Do you know the advantages it brings to the workshop? Whether or not you have the answer to these questions, read on to learn more about the latest abrasive technology.

What is a ceramic abrasive?

Like any other abrasive, and according to the way the body shop works, a ceramic abrasive is designed to generate a certain abrasive power on different surfaces and coatings, with the objective of sanding the surface and leaving it in perfect conditions for subsequent painting.

However, the introduction of ceramic grits provides it with a series of very advantageous characteristics compared to other types of abrasives that differentiate it from the rest and substantially improve its performance and durability.

What are the differences between traditional and ceramic abrasives?

Traditional abrasives used for sanding in body shops are made of minerals such as silicon carbide and aluminum oxide (corundum), although other types of abrasives can also be used for other functions that include minerals such as zirconium (high cutting capacity) or are made with expanded nylon (less tendency to overheat).

With regard to ceramic abrasives used in the body shop, this type of technology is currently present, above all, in sanding discs designed to be placed on sanding tools such as the rotorbital sander.

The differences between the three types of minerals most commonly used in the manufacture of sandpaper are shown by the characteristics of the mineral in terms of hardness and toughness, and with respect to its characteristics and performance throughout its service life (friability). In this sense, this is the performance of each type of mineral:

Silicon carbide.

  • A type of abrasive grit of synthetic origin.
  • Has a hardness of 9.7 on the Mohs scale.
  • Shows low tenacity, so it breaks easily after use.
  • Characteristics and performance of the grit. Due to its crystalline structure, the grit has very sharp edges that cause a narrow and deep scratch on the surface. As the grit is sanded, it breaks down, losing some size, but maintaining the sharp edges. However, the loss of grit size due to continuous breakage after use eventually reduces its cutting ability.
  • This mineral is used in the manufacture of abrasives where a high cutting power is required and in manual sandpaper.


Aluminum oxide

  • A type of abrasive grit of synthetic origin.
  • Has a hardness of 9.4 on the Mohs scale.
  • Shows high toughness, so it does not break easily.
  • Characteristics and performance of the grit. The grit has a tendency to blush as a result of its irregular crystalline structure, so that as it wears it loses its edges and the geometry of the grit becomes blunter, i.e. flatter. This behavior causes this abrasive to produce a shallow and wider surface scratch. As the mineral becomes increasingly rounder with use and smaller, it loses its cutting capacity.
  • This mineral is used in the manufacture of finishing abrasives.


Ceramic grains

  • A type of abrasive grit of natural origin that is subjected to sintering processes to improve its properties.
  • It has a high hardness.
  • Its tenacity is high, so it does not break easily.
  • Characteristics and behavior of the grit. The grit has a microcrystalline structure which means that as it wears, it gradually breaks down so that sharp cutting edges are always regenerated. This feature gives it a durability up to 3 times higher than other abrasive minerals.
  • This type of mineral is used for a wide range of abrasive grits, both for variants designed for high cutting and for others designed to obtain finer finishes.


Therefore, with regard to sanding abrasives in body shops, the use of sandpaper with ceramic grits speeds up the work processes and guarantees a longer service life of the abrasive, which in the medium term translates into a lower consumption of this material and, therefore, in a possible economic saving. Moreover, if we take into account that the usual practice of the operator when using traditional sandpaper is to discard it as soon as they detect a minimum loss of cut, ceramic abrasives are postulated as a way of not wasting material and reducing the waste generated in the workshop.

Ceramic abrasives: a solution that goes beyond sanding

The evolution of products and materials in the automotive sector is a constant trend that seeks to facilitate the work that is usually carried out in the workshop, as well as to increase its productivity. In this sense, the use of ceramic abrasives speeds up the sanding process, increases the durability of the sandpaper, eliminates unjustified waste and reduces the amount of waste generated, so their use contributes to improving the results of the workshop.

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