A flap disc is an abrasive product designed for right-angle grinding applications. They serve as an alternative to the grinding wheel and are a highly versatile tool that can meet your needs in a broad range of applications. Flap discs are made from multiple overlapping pieces of abrasives known as flaps, hence their name. They are used in heavy stock removal, surface blending, smooth finishing, and many other types of right-angle grinding applications. The first abrasive flap discs were developed in the 1970s and were very basic. Modern flap discs offer a broad and diverse range of advantages.
The first advantage of flap discs is their versatility. They are a single tool that provides the ability to grind, blend, and finish. They are also lightweight, easy to maneuver, and require very little change over time. When performing a job, many operators prefer flap discs to traditional grinding wheels due to their lower vibration and noise levels. Additionally, flap discs offer cooler cutting with minimal scratching. For example, grinding wheels are often discarded even after just a small area of abrasive is worn out. Adversely, flap discs remain comparatively useful even after the flaps begin to erode, allowing them to have a longer service life. In terms of unit cost, flap discs are more expensive than grinding wheels. However, when you consider the versatility, durability, and ease of use that flap discs offer, they are more economical in the long term. All of these advantages have caused flap discs’ popularity to significantly increase in the last decades.
Flap discs can be categorized by their shape, material, and flap density. Shape is the most important variable in terms of their effect on your results. The two shapes of flap discs are conical and flat. Conical flap discs are ideal for removing a large quantity of material in a short period of time. They are used for edge-working as well as on contoured applications. Flat flap discs are ideal for blending and finishing. They are mostly used on flat surfaces and feature flaps adhered to a backing plate to provide stability during operation. The material of this backplate is another way flap discs are characterized.
Backing plate materials are commonly fiberglass, plastic, or metal. Fiberglass is the most common choice, due to its strength, durability, minimal weight, and safety. It also creates a strong bond with adhesives, does not contaminate the working surface, and absorbs vibration very efficiently. Among plastics, nylon is the most common type used for backing material. Plastic backing plates can be trimmed to allow for longer flaps, especially for blending and finishing applications. Finally, metal backing plates are the safest choice and provide extra strength and firm support. As such, they are ideal for use on concrete, stone, and other strong materials. Aluminum is the most commonly used metal for backing material.
The final way flap discs are characterized is by their flap densities. Flap density refers to the total amount of abrasive area supplied by the flaps on a flap disc. This depends on the quantity of flaps on a disc, their angle relative to the center of the disc, and how far apart they are spaced. Flap discs generally have either standard or high densities. Standard density flaps are ideal for fast stock removal and heavy duty applications, while high density flaps are optimal for work on curved or uneven jobs and during finishing.
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