Silicon Carbide – Interesting Historical Facts

Black Silicon Carbide Abrasive

Silicon Carbide Sandblasting Abrasive

Silicon Carbide (SiC) was the first synthetic abrasive to be produced and also the first to be commercialized.  1891 was the year that silicon carbide production began, and thus revolutionized the abrasive industry as a whole.  Before 1891, almost all abrasives were naturally found such as rocks and minerals.

By 1900 SiC production was at 1,200 metric tons, carrying an estimated value of $263,000.  Mainly used in the lapidary industries, it was a replacement for diamond powder.  At that time, the only other manufactrued abrasive was crushed steel and as a contrast in volume, crushed steel production was only 320 tons, carrying a rather paultry value of ~$50,000.

With exception only given to diamond and garnet, by the year 2000, manufactured abrasives dominated the high end abrasive industries.  Unlike natural abrasives, manufactured abrasives could be tightly controlled, thus ensuring uniform properties like hardness and grit size.  A further benefit was the ability to customize the manufacturing process to meet exact specified needs, based on the end application.  While being more expensive that natural abrasives, their durablity and efficiency made them more cost effective overall.  They are therefore used heavily in the metal finishing, cutting, and polishing fields.

In short, manufactured abrasives are extensively used today in finishing numerous products.



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