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The Flat Lap

This is part two of a series on vibratory and rotary flat laps.  Click here to check out the beginning of the series, which deals with vibratory laps.

The rotary flat lap is a machine that rotates an abrasive disk.  The disk is usually coated with diamonds on the top surface, and has a magnet on the bottom.  The magnet is used to attach the disk to the rotating steel wheel of the flat lap.  The magnet allows the disks to be fairly quickly changed from once size grit to another, eliminating the need for multiple machines (as is typical with vibratory laps).

Since the disks tend to be diamond coated, they are more aggressive than the silicon carbide or aluminum oxide slurry used with the vibrating flat lap.  This means that they can get the work done more quickly, but it also means that disks are expensive.  Prices start at around $100US for a fairly small disk, and prices of $500 and up are not unusual for larger disks.

To use the rotary flat lap (also called a "lap wheel"), the appropriate size disk is first mounted on the machine.  Water is used as lubrication (for some stages a slurry of water and a polishing powder is used).  The portion of the glass desiring to be ground and polished (usually the base or an edge) is brought into contact with the spinning wheel.  The glass must be held in place until the contacting surface is ground flat.  As with most grinding/polishing activities, this process is repeated with finer and finer grits.

A rotary flat lap costs from just below $1000US to several thousand dollars.  In addition to the lap wheel, you must also invest in several grits and sizes of diamond coated abrasive disks.

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Copyright 2006 Brad Walker.  All rights reserved.

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Copyright 2005-2006 by M. Bradley Walker.  All rights reserved.

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