Choosing the correct tool for a job is of paramount importance in any industrial application. The right tool will improve operator efficiency, which reduces the cost of labor to produce a component. The right tool can also maximize operator ergonomics to prevent potential long-term injuries.
Unfortunately, choosing the right tool can also be difficult. In grinding applications, there are many factors to consider when choosing the appropriate angle grinder. Luckily, Atlas Copco has a guide for selecting the right angle grinder for any application.
When trying to pick the best tool for your needs, here are four key things to ask yourself:
1. What is available to power the tool?
Pneumatic grinders are smaller, more powerful, and typically last longer than their electric counterparts. However, pneumatic grinders require compressed air to generate all of that power. The more powerful the grinder is, the more air it needs. For example, a 5” or 7” grinder ideally needs to be run on a ½” or larger air hose to optimize the power. If that type of air supply is not readily available, electricity is usually more accessible, and an electric grinder could be a suitable alternative.
2. How much time will the operator use the tool each day?
Efficiency and ergonomics need to be considered. If operators will be using the tool for an extended period of time every day, a pneumatic tool that will maximize power and ergonomics is preferred. A pneumatic motor generates significantly more power than an electric equivalent of a comparable size. For that reason, the average pneumatic 5” or 7” grinder is much smaller and lighter than an electric version that would generate equivalent power. Using a lighter-weight pneumatic grinder for an extended period of time can reduce strain on joints that can lead to injuries over time.
Another thing to consider, however, is that an air grinder will be significantly louder than an electric grinder, so to get the full ergonomic benefits of the pneumatic version, ensure operators are wearing proper hearing protection.
3. How much space is available for the tool?
If the operator has a wide, open space in which he or she can work, a larger 7” grinder could be used to maximize efficiency. However, if the component being worked on has corners, curves, or tight spaces that need to be accessed, a smaller tool that allows for more maneuvering or a grinder with an extended neck would be most beneficial.
In tight spaces, smaller air grinders are preferred to larger electric tools.
4. What is the orientation?
When grinding on a flat surface, a tool’s weight can be used as an advantage. The operator can use the weight to apply pressure on the grinding wheel and will not need to work as hard. With vertical applications or applications that force operators to reach further than is comfortable, tool weight becomes a problem, though.
For flat applications that won’t put stress on operators, larger pneumatic or electric grinders can be optimal. In contrast, for more strenuous applications, a smaller 4” or 5” pneumatic grinder is preferred.
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