20 INDUSTRIAL DISTRIBUTION / January/February 2015 www.inddist.com
A New Era for Metal Finishing – An
Insight Into Flap Disc Opportunities
Distributors today need to differentiate themselves from their competition by offering value added products
and services. Some differentiate themselves
through web prominence, through highly
technical sales people, or through customer satisfaction through product inventory.
What’s challenging with this is anticipating
the customer’s needs, since the processes
and products used are constantly changing with the technological
advancement and evolvement in the processes.
One of the areas that has undergone significant change in the
past 10 years is the metal finishing industry, particularly when it
comes to grinding, blending and finishing. This is largely due to
the recent advancements in welding technology. As welds become
smaller, the need for heavy duty grinding dramatically decreases.
This, in turn, impacts the sales of grinding wheels, and effects
revenue and gross margin. While we cannot change the trend, we
can join the evolution of this process by better understanding the
changes and adopting to sell the new way of finishing. No other
products more than flap discs have undergone such significant
changes over the past decade.
Flap disc technology, which is formed by multiple flaps of abrasives, has changed from a product positioned to outlast sanding
discs, to a product that is engineered to remove metal, often as
fast as a hard grinding wheel, and finish in one simple step. The
combination of grinding and sanding into a single product and
process can save significant time over the traditional grinding
wheel/sanding disc method.
The Distributor Impact
So what does this all mean for distributors? In the past, distribu-
tors had to stock multiple types of grinding wheels, blending discs,
and sanding discs for their customers so that they could achieve a
desired finish. Depending on the type of metal alone, a different
wheel or disc needed to be utilized as different grinding wheels
are designed to be used on a specific type of metal, whether it is
for hard metal alloys, non-ferrous metals, or stainless steel. This
can be costly, as there is a lot of capital invested into stocking
these various types of products in inventory.
With the introduction of the flap discs, distributors now have
the option to stock fewer SKUs, as flap discs are a great alternative
to grinding and sanding discs. In addition, flap discs are designed
to be used on multiple types of metals, including non ferrous
Flap disc technology, which is formed by multiple flaps of abrasives, has changed from a
product positioned to outlast sanding discs, to
a product that is engineered to remove metal.
BY CHESTER COLLIER, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, WALTER SURFACE TECHNOLOGIES