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Wire Brush Wheels - Guide

1 Introduction

Where abrasive grain is usually selected for being very hard, typically harder than the material being worked, wire brush wheels are intended to be of similar or lower hardness than the substrate, but harder than any coatings. They are thus mainly used when coatings or contamination is to be removed from the surface, but with minimal damage to the base material. Typical applications thus include cleaning, stripping coatings, de-rusting and de-carbonising. 

Wire brush wheels can also be more conformable, offering easier access to complex surfaces than abrasive discs and belts.

2.  Wire Types

Crimped Wire Wheel Brushes: These can be made from grey steel, stainless steel and brass coated steel and look wavy or bent. ‘Crimping’ separates the metal filaments, resulting in less wire fatigue and breakages caused by flexing, bending and vibrations. During use, tiny pieces of wire break off leaving a fresh cutting edge exposed. These ‘crimps’ cause cleaner breaks to occur and ensure consistent brushing as the cutting action is at the wire tips. The base material of the work-piece determines which wire type to use.

Narrow brush faces are perfect for corners, crevices and irregular surfaces, whilst a wider brush face provides consistent brushing over large areas.

Knotted Wire Wheel Brushes: These are made with twists of metal wire, in grey steel or stainless steel. They support aggressive cutting and absorb the vibrations that can cause wire fatigue. Standard or twisted tuft brushes are twisted for about two thirds of the filament length. The remaining third is flared slightly. Brushes designed for heavier duty applications might have knots twisted for the entire length. 

Trim Length: A short trim length makes the brush face rigid and consequently the brush removal capacity is higher. With a longer trim length the brush becomes flexible and it provides a uniform brushing even on irregular surfaces. Work efficiency increases as a brush diameter increases. To calculate the biggest possible diameter for a given machine, it is necessary to consider the maximum RPM of the power tool or machine being used. Example, for an electric tool with a maximum RPM of 6,000 the brush should not exceed 175mm diameter. A shorter trim length provides a more aggressive brushing action, whereas flexibility to adapt to irregular or uneven surfaces increases as trim length increases. In contrast to abrasives and cutting tools, wire brushes do not remove the base material of a treated surface. Herein, brushes serve as an essential tool for a wide range of industrial processes.

3. Selection Parameters: Please consider the following when selecting a brush:

• The work to be done

• Application surface

• RPM parameters of the machine

When selecting the brush material:

• The material of the application surface

• Desired finish.

4 Wire Options:

Brass Coated Steel:

  • High Performance, flexibility and longer life span
  • Anti-corrosion material
  • Suitable for a large range of finishing
  • Traction resistance 230-250 kgs/mm²
  • Carbon Content 0.75% Grey Steel
  • Suitable for twisted knot brushes and a high removal capacity.
  • Not suitable for stainless steel surfaces.
  • Traction resistance 200-275 Kgs/mm²
  • Carbon content 0.5-0.6%

Stainless Steel:

  • These wires are used for the brushing of stainless steel, aluminium or nonferrous metal surfaces.
  • Stainless steel turned into wire becomes lightly magnetic. (Beware the misconception that stainless steel wire has no magnetic signature.)
  • Traction resistance 160-180 Kgs/mm² following AISI 304-L regulations.