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Glossary of Terms

You can find reference to terms used withing the industry in our glossary of terms below.

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Airless Spray - Atomisation of liquid polishing compound at spray gun tip by high pressure alone. i.e. no air.

Airspray - Conventional Spraying Technology where liquid polishing compound is atomised by passage of air at gun nozzle.

Alumina - Synthetic Aluminium Oxide, both fused and calcined , produced from Bauxite.

Automatic Polishing - Polishing is done by a machine passing the component across a "head" of mops on a shaft.

Average Particle Size - Term used to denote the size of abrasive powders.


Back Stand - Idler wheel used with Linishing belts.

Barrelling Media - Abrasive compound used in barrel polishing process.

Beilby Layer - Amorphous layer on metal surface produced by action of polishing.

Bias Mops - Method of constructing mop, so that all fabric warp and weft are at 45° to component.  Normally made into ventilated or pleated mops.

Binder - Part of compound which holds abrasive on polishing mop.  May be a combination of fats, waxes, glues or cements.

Bobbing - Use of graded abrasive on wheel with rigid binder.

Bobbing Grease - Lubricant used with abrasive belts and flexible abrasive wheels to reduce operating temperature and prolong the usable life of the belt or wheel.

Buffing - Use of grease compound on mop to produce polished surface.

Buffs - An alternative name for Mops, used in many countries, particularly the USA.

Burning - Discolouration due to excessive pressure or lack of coolant.


Calico - High grade cotton cloth used to make the best quality mops.  Available in many "weights", it can be made into loosefold, stitched and bias mops for both manual and automatic applications.

Carrier - Same as binder, but also includes water in the case of liquid compounds.

Cement - Hard inorganic adhesive for binding abrasive grain to mops and felts used in scurfing operations.

Centreless Polishing - Particular method of semi-automation used for polishing tubes.

Chemical Polishing - As opposed to mechanical polishing carried out by a range of chemical immersion processes.

Chips - Name sometimes given to media used in barrelling or vibratory finishing.

CLA - Centre line average means average height above and below centre line of surface irregularities. A means of measuring the smoothness of the surface

Colour - Term used to describe and compare the quality of the shine produced by a polishing compound. Generally measured on a scale of 1-10 with 1 lowest shine and 10 a virtual mirror finish.

Compound - Grease or greaseless bar or liquid containing abrasive - also known as Compo, Composition, or Polishing soap.

Contact Time - More often referred to in automatic polishing, is the time the mop is in contact with the component.

Contact Wheel - The wheel that supports a coated abrasive belt.

Conveyor Type Machines - Most large multi-head automatics carry components on a conveyor.

Coolants - Often necessary in the grinding process.  See Bobbing Grease.

Cooling of Mops - Flexing and opening of mop sections allows air cooling to take place.

Copying or Profile - Automatic polishing, component outline accurately followed by the polishing mop.

Corundum - Naturally occurring alumina similar to rubies or sapphires.

Cut - Term used to define and compare a polishing compound's ability to remove the component material. Can be measured and is generally presented on a comparative scale of 1-10 with 1 representing minimal and 10 very heavy material removal.


Degrease - Remove grease and compound residues.  May be a solvent or water based process.

Dressing - Preparation of mops and grinding wheels, using a special tool to "true" the wheel surface.


Emery - Naturally occurring mixture of corundum, magnetite, hematite and quartz.

Emulsifiers - Essential component of liquid compounds, enables the binder and water to be intermixed to produce a stable polishing compound.


FEPA - European standard for micro and macro grit sizes.

Ferrous - Refers to metal containing mainly iron i.e. mild steel, stainless steel, carbon steel.

Fettling - Castings, is removal of die lines formed during manufacture.

Finishing Mops - Mops used for the final stage of polishing.  Generally loosefold mops in manual operations.

Flexible Abrasives - Used on mops and felts for de-burring and satin finishing operations where the polishing medium must adjust to the contours of the component.

Floating Heads - Automatic polishing heads that have free movement to follow component shape.


Grease Based Compounds - Solid bar compounds used mainly for hand polishing, consisting of grease and abrasive.

Greaseless Compounds - Graded abrasive and glue compound to produce satin finish.

Green Compounds - For use on stainless steels.  Usually contain chrome oxide to produce a deep colour finish.

Grinding - First operation followed by mopping.

Guns - Airspray, Airless Graco, Intensifier Widerberg or Ravensberg , types of spray gun for compound application.


Head of Polishing Mop - Name given to working surface of mops, consists of grease abrasive, metal fines.


Indexing Machine - Type of rotary automatic, the work holder stops adjacent to each polishing head.


Jigs - For automatic polishing - tool for holding individual components under polishing head.


Lap Mop - Mop made from non-woven nylon material impregnated with abrasive.  Produces a "satin" finish.

Lapping - Type of engineering polishing, where dimensional accuracy is more important than reflectance.

Lathe - Name given to manual polishing spindle.

Life of Mops - Extended by cool running - due to increased airflow through ventilated bias mops.

Linishing - Another term for Grinding.

Liquid Compounds - A suspension of abrasive in an oil-in-water emulsion.

Loosefold Mop - Mop available in various grades of calico.  Used in manual polishing, normally for final stage finishing.

Low Pressure Spray - Conventional spray method using air to atomise fluid stream.

Lubricant - Necessary to keep components cool.  See Bobbing Grease.


Machine Type - Rotary, indexing, profile, track, mush, special purpose, conveyor.

Manual Polishing - The operator holds the component being polished against a rotating mop.

Media - Refers to abrasive compound used in vibratory finishing.

Micron (µm) - 1 µm = 0.001mm, 1 thou = 25 µm

Mill Treatment - Impregnation of the material used to make polishing mops before they are made.

Mohs scale - Order Based on Scratch hardness-

1 .Talcum
2. Gypsum
3. Calcite
4. Fluorspar
5. Apatite
6. Felspar
7. Quartz
8. Topaz
9. Corundum
10. Diamond

Mopping - As buffing, the use of grease compound on mop to produce polished surface.

Mush Polishing - Principle of automatic polishing using large diameter, slow rotation, to bury complex shaped components into the mop, to cover all the surfaces.


Neuberg Chalk - Mined in Neuberg on the Danube, mild abrasive consisting of silica and alumina.

Non-ferrous - Metal not containing iron i.e. brass, aluminium, copper, pewter, diecast zinc etc.


Orange Peel - Surface imperfection which looks like the surface of an orange.

Organic Solvents - A family of volatile chemicals used for degreasing.

Oscillation - Polishing machine heads need to oscillate in direction of axis to produce best finish.

Over Polishing - Shown up as exaggerated crystal structure - surface should be re-ground and re-polished.


Particle Size - Abrasive particle size has a profound effect on compound performance.

Peaks & Valleys - Description of a surface after grinding or polishing.

Peripheral Speed - Speed of the outermost surface of the polishing mop, usually 30 - 35 m/s for steel, 30 - 50 m/s for non-ferrous.

pH Value - Measure of acid or alkali level - compounds should be close to neutral , i.e. pH 7

Pinch Roll Machine - Wide roll machine used for cutlery polishing.

Plastic Deformation - Metal deformation which happens during the polishing process.

Pleated - Another term for Ventilated. A form of bias mop where the material is formed into pleats or waves to increase flexibilty and cooling during use.

Polishing - General term for bobbing and buffing.

Polishing Roll - Shaft with buffs secured to it.

Porosity - Fault often found in zinc diecasting, typified by holes or “voids” throughout the metal.

Post Treatment - Impregnation of a polishing mop, after it has been made, to modify its performance.

Pressure - Refers to weight exerted on component by rotating mop.

Pumice - Soft naturally occurring Abrasive that fractures to give new cutting edges, works well at low temperatures when polishing plastics and wood


Reciprocating Table Machine - Used in polishing long components.

Return Type Machine - Automatic polishing machine where loading and unloading are done at the same position.

Robot Polishing - Sophisticated technology using machines to replicate manual polishing techniques.

Rotary Indexing Machine - Circular table with work holders and floor mounted polishing heads.

Rouge - Name given to iron oxide grease bars, usually very "dry".  Very little abrasive effect - used on precious metals.


Safety Factors - Adequate dust extraction and tight clothing.

Satin Finishing - Very fine scratch finish best produced by greaseless compounds.

Scurfing - As bobbing.

Silicon Carbide - Synthetic abrasive sometimes known as Carborundum.

Sisal - Coarse fibre material made from the agave plant, used for first stage polishing mops for high metal removal. Can be made into stitched, bias stitched and bias pleated forms.

Sisal Wheel - Type of mop used for heavy metal removal.

Sizing - Thin first layer of bonding agent (relevant to Lea Compound or Grainlock).

Solvent - Type of degreasing, usually trichlorethylene.

Speed - Usually referred to as surface speed of mop face.

Stainless Steel - Many different types, 18/8 and 316 grades are the commonest.

Stearine - Commonly used binder ingredient in liquids and bars.

Surface Finish - What our business is all about!


Talysurf - Proprietary name of instrument for measuring surface finish in micro inches or microns.

Treatments - Impregnation of material used for polishing mops with resin or starch based stiffening agents. Modifies the performance and life of the mop.

Trichlorethylene - Used for solvent degreasing.

Tripoli - Naturally occurring in the U.S.A., Spain and Italy, it consists mainly of silica, used for polishing softer, usually non-ferrous metals.

Tungsten Carbide - Used for airless spray tips.


Ultrasonics - Ultra high sound energy. Produces a cavitation effect in liquids, which is useful in cleaning off polishing compound residues.


Ventilated - Another term for Pleated. A form of bias mop where the material is formed into pleats or waves to increase flexibilty and cooling during use.

Vibratory Polishing - Alternative bulk finishing method giving different quality finishes.

Vienna Lime - Consists of mixture of calcium and magnesium oxides – now rarely used.


Water Based Liquid Compounds - Modern type as opposed to oil based.

Wheel Diameter - Size of the polishing mop. Double the diameter, and you double the surface. i.e.peripheral speed.

Work Station - Number of polishing heads on an automatic polishing machine.


Zinc Alloy -  Mazak, Zamak, Zinc based diecasting materials.

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