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Improving abrasive safety without compromising productivity

Published on: 25 November 2021


In an independent study commissioned by British Marine members 3M, the potential safety benefits of their products was explored. 

3M™ Cubitron™ II hand-held abrasives bring efficiency and hazard mitigation together to improve the safety of metal fabricators.
Featuring legendary 3M Precision-Shaped Grain, a unique engineered abrasive known for its speed of cut and efficiency, can offer additional safety benefits.

Metal fabrication factories can be dangerous places to work

Like all industrial processes, the use of abrasives involves certain risks, both for operators and personnel nearby. A grinding wheel or abrasive disc will typically operate at 80 m/s, its edge travelling at speeds of up to 180 mph.

There are short-term and long-term hazards. In the short term, risks may include the potential for injury from accidental contact with moving components or flying debris and burns from sparks or hot workpieces. Over the long-term, they may include debilitating health issues from exposure to dust, noise and vibration hazards over time.

Minimising and managing short and long-term risks are the responsibility of every company that uses abrasive tools and equipment. It’s also good business practice, as a safe and healthy workforce is critical to quality and productivity.


3M™ Cubitron™ II engineered abrasives can help mitigate risks from hand-arm vibration, airborne particles and noise hazards

Abrasives are not considered as a control method against typical hazards faced every day in metalworking [1]. Nevertheless, engineered abrasives by 3M can make a considerable step change to worker safety across metalworking and transportation industries - their unique features can have a significant impact on minimising exposure to long-term hazards and making a considerable improvement to the working environment of employees day in and day out.

3M commissioned an independent study with the Fraunhofer Institute and Vito NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research). These studies confirmed the potential safety benefits of 3M™ Cubitron™ II hand-held abrasives featuring 3M Precision-Shaped Grain.

According to the independent testing, 3M™ Cubitron™ II Fibre Disc 982C demonstrated significant potential to mitigate risk against long-term abrasive hazards when compared to traditional grinding wheel:

• Up to 71 percent [2] fewer airborne particles thanks to the innovative slicing action that means the disc creates larger, longer and heavier metal chips (swarf) that stay airborne for less time.

• Up to 91 percent [3] reduction in vibration exposure - Fixed tasks can be completed faster, significantly reducing operator’s trigger time and less applied force helps minimise operator fatigue.

• Up to 75 percent [3] reduction in noise energy – 3M™ Cubitron™ II Fibre Discs 982C offer a 6dB noise reduction compared to conventional grinding wheels.

3M coated and bonded abrasives are oSa certified for safety

3M is one of the founding members of the Organisation for Safety in Abrasives (oSa). The oSa audits abrasive manufacturers to EN standards to demonstrate the highest level of tested safety for cutting and grinding tools. 3M cutting & grinding products are oSa certified - oSa tests our abrasives to ensure they are safe to use and will have a positive impact on preventing accidental injuries during their use. So you can be sure the 3M oSa marked products will fulfil their intended function safely.

3M Precision-Shaped Grain technology is behind risk mitigation & productivity


3M™ Cubitron™ II abrasives feature 3M’s revolutionary Precision-Shaped Grain which acts like a cutting tool, slicing through metal like a knife, grinding faster and with less friction, minimising heat build-up in the workpiece and lasting longer than conventional grain.

3M Precision-Shaped Grain can deliver significant safety benefits to the operator by significantly reducing exposure to hand-arm vibration, airborne particles and noise hazards, whilst also offering fast cut rates to deliver better efficiency and productivity, ideal for those who work under tight production deadlines. Choosing the correct product for your application and ensuring the correct operating parameters will guarantee that you take maximum value from the safety features of 3M abrasives. Our abrasive specialists are committed to support you through every step of this process.


3M Abrasives and Personal Protective Equipment – A broad solution for improving safety and productivity from one manufacturer

Take control of your future safety strategy with the 3M combined solutions of 3M™ Cubitron™ II engineered abrasives and personal protective equipment (PPE), that will assist you in achieving your safety goals without compromising productivity and comfort. Combined expertise in both areas is what makes 3M a trusted partner in providing quality products for you to manage both safety and productivity in challenging work environments.


Learn more about how 3M abrasives can mitigate abrasive risks

In 3M we support companies across the Metalworking and Transportation industries by optimising processes and building the confidence of workers and managers with solutions that help to improve both safety and productivity.

Visit the 3M Abrasive Safety website or download 3M’s Abrasive Safety Assessment Guide for more information on how 3M engineered abrasives can improve your safety without compromising your productivity.

[1] According to Independent Market Research by 2Europe, commissioned by 3M.

[2] Airborne particles compared 3M™ Cubitron™ II 982C fibre disc to 3M™ High Performance Grinding Wheel – according to independent abrasive tests conducted by Vito NV Institute.

[3] Noise and hand-arm vibration compared 3M™ Cubitron™ II 982C fibre disc to a competitive grinding wheel – according to independent abrasive tests conducted by Fraunhofer LBF Institute.