Have you ever wondered how glad and metal products get such a smooth shine on them? They must do something to the surface to get it so smooth and sleek, right? Well the answer is a lot simpler than you might think!
If you’ve taken a wood-shop class, you might be familiar with all of the different types of cutting and grinding machines used to get different shapes and finishes on wood products. Well, a very similar process is used to polish other materials such as gems, metals, and glass. The methods used to polish a surface other than wood are a little bit different depending on the surface you’re working with, but the general idea stays the same: polish the surface to a shine.
The most common method used to polish these types of surfaces is a lapping machine. A lapping machine is a machine with a rotating abrasive disk used for polishing gems, metal, and optical glass. Lapping is the process of rubbing two surfaces together with some form of abrasive between them, and can be done either by hand or by using one of these lapping machines.
Grinding machines come in all shapes and sizes, and surprisingly, their shape and size really matters! When looking at the grain of a grinding machine, lower numbers mean a coarser grain, while higher numbers mean a finer grain. Generally, a coarser grain is used to get the initial smooth surface, while a finer grain is used afterwards to really get a nice even finish on the product being worked on.
This process isn’t as simple as a three sentence explanation, though. The machinery used for lapping has to be precise and well cared for. In fact, if a grinding machine’s components are out of alignment by at little as 0.0001 inches, it could contribute to poor quality in the finished work. The people who work with these machines must be attentive and quick to fix something if a problem arises. In this way, they can ensure the quality of the finished product.
Don’t always take those shiny new toys at their face value! Think about all of the work that goes into creating that shine you love so much, and really take the time to appreciate it!