Category Archive: Glass Polishing

Glass Surface Lapping vs. Polishing

Lapping and polishing are surface treatment options that can make machined parts smoother and safer to handle. However, both processes offer distinct advantages, and choosing the right one can make a big impact on your next glass product order. Learn more about glass surface lapping, the difference between lapping and polishing, and key industrial applications of lapping.

What Is Lapping?: The Lapping Process

For a lapping surface finish, the glass workpiece is smoothed using a lapping tool. An abrasive product — such as silicon carbide, aluminum oxide, or jeweler’s rouge — will sit between the two surfaces, and, as the surfaces rub together, the abrasives will smooth down the workpiece surface. In most processes, the lapping tool will rotate and equipment will press the glass workpiece against that rotating plate.

Lapping can be used to transform glass workpieces into parts with particular shapes, dimensions, and thicknesses. It can also remove damaged portions that experienced too much stress or incorrect shaping earlier in the manufacturing process. The lapping tool itself can also vary. Some processes use a roughened lapping tool that has a fixed abrasive, while others use loose abrasive powder sitting between the two surfaces.

This process does not rely on heat, so it won’t generate heat stress on the workpiece. Instead, it relies on abrasives to remove excess material, ensuring a consistent result across the workpiece. Because this process can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of fragile and finely crafted pieces such as ceramics and glass, it can be used with a wide variety of both metal and non-metal workpieces.

What Is the Difference Between Lapping and Polishing?

Lapping and polishing are two popular smoothing options, but they have very different processes that provide different results. While lapping relies on physical abrasion to finish the surface of the components, glass polishing uses a chemical process. Electrolytic polishing uses an electrical charge to remove excess material. Polishing processes can be either single-sided, which focuses on one side of the piece at a time and can create pieces with differently shaped and polished sides, or double-sided, which treats both faces of a workpiece at the same time.

In many manufacturing workflows, lapping can be done to leave a product with a smooth, unpolished surface, or the product can undergo lapping and then polishing to achieve a smoother finish.

Main Industrial Applications

Some of the industries that rely on glass surface lapping and polishing for highly precise glass products include the following:

Glass Lapping and Polishing Information From Swift Glass

High-quality glass lapping and polishing processes are essential for developing highly sensitive or very precise glass objects. At Swift Glass, our team specializes in fabricating custom glass components. Our company is ISO 9001:2015 certified, and our products and processes are built to comply with both MIL-SPEC standards and ASTM standards. We handle production from glass cutting to final polishing and shipping, and we’ve been a leading provider of custom glass services for nearly 100 years.

Contact Our Experts for Premium Glass Fabrication Solutions

When you need a high-quality supplier who can manage your glass products from start to finish, contact the experts at Swift Glass. Reach out today to learn more about our extensive capabilities or request a quote to start your custom order.

Single-Sided vs. Double-Sided Polishing

In many industrial applications, glass must be polished in specific ways to achieve the correct optical properties. Glass polishing offers an ideal solution for glass components that require a high level of precision, as polishing uses very fine abrasive particles to polish surfaces to a superior finish.

The Differences Between Single-Sided vs Double-Sided Polishing

There are two types of polishing: single-sided polishing and double-sided polishing. Which type is most appropriate depends upon the specifics of the application and design.

Single-Sided Polishing

Single-sided polishing machines move one surface over the workpiece, grinding away at only the top surface while keeping the bottom surface protected. Single-sided polishing is ideal when:

  • Two surfaces of the work need to be polished to different requirements
  • When parts only require polishing on one side
  • Polishing large parts (the workpiece can be flipped to polish the other side if necessary)

The process of polishing is quite complex, especially when the highest levels of accuracy and precision are required in the finishing of a piece. It is important for manufacturers to analyze and control the wear of the polishing surfaces. Any irregularities or worn machines can damage the finish of a piece.

Double-Sided Polishing

Double-sided polishing is performed on both sides of a piece at once. Fine abrasive particles are suspended in a liquid which is used to wear away the top and bottom surfaces of a piece of glass. Planetary action on the part of the top and bottom plates results in excellent surface finish, including:

  • Transmitted wave front error
  • Parallelism
  • Surface quality
  • Surface roughness

Because the two sides of the work piece are abraded equally, it reduces stress on the material and is ideal for most optical materials. Double-sided polishing is best when:

  • Two sides of a piece must be exactly parallel and equal in finish
  • Parts have very specific flatness requirements
  • Design requires the highest available surface quality in factors such as parallelism and flatness

Single-Sided and Double-Sided Polishing Services with Swift Glass

At Swift Glass, we offer both single-sided and double-sided polishing services. Precise parallelism and high flatness are important requirements for many optical applications. We offer the services to meet those needs. Swift Glass possesses capabilities for both high- and low-volume projects with a combination of manual operations and computer-controlled machinery.

Swift Glass has the services you need to achieve the correct precision and surface finish on your glass parts. We are experts in both single- and double-sided polishing and can help you determine which is correct for your application.

For more information on our polishing services, please request a quote today.

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