Improve abrasive safety without compromising productivity

3M™ Cubitron™ II hand-held abrasives, featuring legendary 3M Precision-Shaped Grain bring efficiency and hazard mitigation together to improve the safety of metal fabricators.

 Metal fabrication factories can be dangerous places to work

Like all industrial processes, the use of abrasives involves certain risks, both for operators and personnel nearby. A grinding wheel or abrasive disc will typically operate at 80 m/s, its edge travelling at speeds of up to 180 mph.

Risks may include the potential for injury from accidental contact with moving components or flying debris and burns from sparks or hot workpieces. Over the long-term, they may include debilitating health issues from exposure to dust, noise and vibration hazards over time.

Minimising and managing short and long-term risks are the responsibility of every company that use abrasives tools and equipment.

3M™ Cubitron™ II engineered abrasives can help mitigate risks from hand-arm vibration, airborne particles, and noise hazards

Abrasives are not considered as a control method against typical hazards faced every day in metalworking. Nevertheless, engineered abrasives by 3M can make a considerable step change to worker safety across metalworking and transportation industries and have a significant impact on minimising exposure to long-term hazards.

3M commissioned an independent study with the Fraunhofer Institute and Vito NV (Flemish Institute for Technological Research). These studies confirmed the potential safety benefits of 3M™ Cubitron™ II hand-held abrasives featuring 3M Precision-Shaped Grain.

According to the independent testing, 3M™ Cubitron™ II Fibre Disc 982C demonstrated significant potential to mitigate risk against long-term abrasive hazards when compared to a traditional grinding wheel:

  • Up to 71%[2] less airborne particles thanks to the innovative slicing action that means the disc creates larger, longer and heavier metal chips (swarf) that stay airborne for less time.
  • Up to 91%[3] reduction in vibration exposure – Fixed tasks can be completed faster, significantly reducing operator’s trigger time and less applied force helps minimise operator fatigue.
  • Up to 75%3 reduction in noise energy – 3M™ Cubitron™ II Fibre Discs 982C offer a 6dB noise reduction compared to conventional grinding wheels.

 3M coated and bonded abrasives are oSa certified for safety

The oSa was founded on 16 March 2000 by 17 abrasive manufacturers, amongst them 3M, with the aim to enable users, dealers and purchasers to distinguish abrasives with an assured safety level from those with unknown safety. 3M cutting & grinding products are oSa certified – oSa tests our abrasives to ensure they are safe to use and will have positive impact on preventing accidental injuries during their use. So you can be sure the 3M oSa marked products will fulfil their intended function safely. 

3M Precision-Shaped Grain is the technology behind risk mitigation & productivity

3M™ Cubitron™ II abrasives feature 3M Precision-Shaped Grain which acts like a cutting tool, slicing through metal like a knife, grinding faster and with less friction, minimising heat build-up in the workpiece and lasting longer than conventional grains.

Delivering considerable safety benefits to the operator by significantly reducing exposure to hand-arm vibration, airborne particles and noise hazards, whilst also offering fast cut rates to deliver better efficiency and productivity, ideal for those who work under tight production deadlines. Choosing the correct product for your application and ensuring the correct operating parameters will guarantee that you take maximum value from the safety features of 3M abrasives.

3M Abrasives and Personal Protective Equipment – A broad solution for improving safety and productivity from one manufacturer

Take control of your future safety strategy with the 3M combined solutions of 3M™ Cubitron™ II engineered abrasives and personal protective equipment (PPE), that will assist you in achieving your safety goals without compromising productivity and comfort. Combined expertise in both areas, is what makes 3M a trusted partner in providing quality products for you to manage both safety and productivity in challenging work environments.

Learn more about how 3M abrasives can mitigate abrasive risks

In 3M we support companies across the Metalworking and Transportation industries by optimising processes and building the confidence of workers and managers with solutions that help to improve both safety and productiveness.

Visit the 3M Abrasive Safety website or download 3M’s Abrasive Safety Assessment Guide for more information on how 3M engineered abrasives can improve your safety without compromising your productivity.


[1] According to Independent Market Research by 2Europe, commissioned by 3M.

[2] Airborne particles compared 3M™ Cubitron™ II 982C fibre disc to 3M™ High Performance Grinding Wheel – according to independent abrasive tests conducted by Vito NV Institute.

[3] Noise and hand-arm vibration compared 3M™ Cubitron™ II 982C fibre disc to a competitive grinding wheel – according to independent abrasive tests conducted by Fraunhofer LBF Institute.






Google Pixel 6 phones launch with a distinctive design made from recycled aluminium 

Google has finally launched its flagship Pixel 6 smartphones as it aims to beat competitors on camera and performance while undercutting them on price.

Previewed by Google in August, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are the Android-maker’s attempt to compete with Apple and Samsung at the high end of the market after disappointing results with its previous mid-range entries.

Both phones have a distinctive design made from recycled aluminium with a large camera bar across the back reminiscent of Geordi La Forge’s visor from Star Trek.

Read more: Google phones


TRA to review anti-dumping measures on aluminium road wheels

The Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) has today initiated a transition review into an anti-dumping measure on aluminium road wheels, a measure that was transitioned following the UK’s exit from the EU, to determine if the measure is fit for purpose in the UK.

The Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) will review imports of aluminium road wheels from the People’s Republic of China and will consider whether duties are needed to offset dumping in the UK and whether UK industry would be injured if the measure was no longer applied.

The wheels to be investigated during this review are used on motor vehicles and are often referred to as ‘alloy wheels’ as they are made from an alloy of mainly aluminium with a small amount of other metals or silicone added for durability. These wheels are sold in the UK to both the vehicle manufacturers and as aftermarket products to the general consumer.

The investigation will cover the period from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021. In order to assess injury, the TRA will examine the period from 1 July 2017 to 30 June 2021.

View further information on our current transition reviews, including the notice of initiation for aluminium road wheels

Note to editors:

  • Aluminium road wheels are most commonly manufactured by either forging or casting. Forged wheels are usually more expensive than cast wheels but provide a better strength to weight ratio and as a result are more commonly used in high performance and off-road vehicles.
  • Anti-dumping duties allow a country or union to take action against goods sold at less than their normal value, defined as the price for ‘like goods’ sold in the exporter’s home market.
  • The measures are one of the three types of trade remedies – along with countervailing measures against countervailable subsidies and safeguard measures which address sudden, unforeseen floods of imports – that are allowed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
  • The TRA is the UK body that investigates whether trade remedy measures are needed to counter unfair import practices and unforeseen surges of imports.
  • Trade remedy investigations were carried out by the EU Commission on the UK’s behalf until the UK left the EU. Forty-three EU trade remedy measures of interest to UK producers were carried across into UK law when the UK left the EU and the TRA is currently reviewing each one to assess whether it is suitable for UK needs.

Read more: Aluminium road wheels

Energy letter to BEIS – September 2021

To Renata Williams White

Dear Renata,

I know you’re aware that energy costs are skyrocketing right now. I want to put those increases in context so you fully understand the implications for UK industry – and the urgent need for the Government to act.

Right now, ALFED members are facing astronomical price increases of nearly 200% for gas and 50%+ for electricity. One member will be paying £300,000 more annually for electricity alone.

This situation is dealing a major blow to the UK’s competitiveness – and is set to negate growth driven by the UK’s post-Brexit industrial strategy

▪ UK aluminium won’t be able to compete with European and international players, whose Governments are subsidising energy
▪ ALFED members are concerned that businesses will close if production can shift to countries with lower energy costs
▪ There will be a knock-on effect on the competitiveness of many industries that rely on aluminium, both upstream and downstream

There are profound economic implications if the Government fails to address this situation

The aluminium sector directly employs 37,000 people across the country and contributes £2.97 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy. When you factor in the wider supply chains that contribute to aluminium production and manufacturing, the sector supports 97,000 jobs and £6.8 billion in GVA. A great deal of economic value and many jobs are at risk because of the current situation.

I’ve attached some data to illustrate the precarious position the aluminium sector – and by extension, the wider UK industry – is now in.

To safeguard the UK’s strategic interests, the Government must act now

We need the Government to:

▪ Support businesses so they’re not disadvantaged compared with international competitors benefiting from subsidies
▪ Rally behind an energy policy that ensures a secure and cost-effective supply
▪ Ensure UK industry can compete effectively in a global market over the short, medium and long term

I’d welcome the opportunity to speak with you about this in more detail.

Tom Jones
Aluminium Federation

Download the letter:


Protecting lone workers: How to manage the risks of working alone

Lone workers can be at greater risk of harm as they may not have anyone to help or support them if things go wrong.

Employers should provide training, supervision, monitoring and support for those working alone.

The HSE free to download leaflet ‘Protecting lone workers: How to manage the risks of working alone‘ is for anyone who employs lone workers, or engages them as contractors, including self-employed people or those who work alone.

The leaflet is supported by our lone working webpages which include advice aimed at lone workers themselves.

We also have a new video setting out the key advice, with animations to help explain how lone workers should be protected.

A New Frontier in Composite-to-Metal Joining

Composite materials such as fibre-reinforced polymers offer high strength and low weight benefits for applications in industries ranging from automotive and aerospace to medicine, oil and gas, and renewable energy. Despite this, the take-up of fibre reinforced plastic composites has been hindered by the challenges associated with joining these materials to metals.

The strength of the joints between composites and metals often informs how they are used in engineering, but poor mechanical performance, low fatigue resistance, and a distrust of the joint’s repeatability and integrity have, until now, often led designers into over-conservativism.

However, a new solution for joining composites to metals looks set to make these concerns a thing of the past and increase the potential for the weight-saving benefits to be realised in even more applications…

£3000 incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice

On 4 October the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, announced the extension of the £3000 incentive payment for hiring a new apprentice until the end January 2022.

The key eligibility and application details are outlined below.

For apprentices with an employment start date from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021:

Employers still have time to apply, applications close on 30 November 2021.
Apprentices must have an employment start date from 1 April 2021 to 30 September 2021. They must also have an apprenticeship start date from 1 April 2021 to 30 November 2021.

For apprentices with an employment start date from 1 October 2021 to 31 January 2022:

Employers can recruit now and apply later! Applications will open in January 2022.
Apprentices must have an employment start date from 1 October 2021 to 31 January 2022.

How employers apply

To receive the payment, employers must submit an application for each eligible apprentice using their apprenticeship service account. Our how to video provides a step-by-step guide.

The BEIS Bulletin from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Here’s the latest news from BEIS:

  • New Net Zero Strategy for decarbonising the UK economy
  • Heat and Buildings Strategy aims to improve home heating
  • COP26 business briefings

  • Other news

  • Useful links

Read more: BEIS Bulletin 20 Oct 2021

Make Sustainability More Than a Hashtag

With certain issues, it can become the done thing to advertise your commitment to the cause at every opportunity. There is often more hot air than action. Sadly, sustainability is one of those issues. But it’s critical to our survival, and to that of every other species on this planet, that we take it seriously.elumatec---Neil-Parton-MD

That’s not to say we can simply decide to adopt a few sustainable practices and we solve all our problems. It’s far more complex than that. But complicated or not, we all – and I stress ‘all’ – need to do what we can. We can’t leave it to organic agriculture and green energy providers.

Taking on the challenge

With every move made towards sustainability, it’s important to weigh up all the pros and cons. Some changes might seem like the obvious ‘easy decision,’ but in this global economy, we can’t, for example, look at things like replacing fossil fuels without considering the impact of biofuel production on food crop capacity.

With genuine ethical issues everywhere, it would be easy to retreat to a position of complying with current legislation and waiting for definitive guidance. The trouble is that our planet can’t afford to wait. We must do more than the minimum, we must shape the future we want to see.

Problem solvers

Despite the challenges, I believe we can make a real difference. In industry and particularly in engineering, we are good at solving problems. The ability to juggle multiple variables and get positive results is essential when tackling issues of sustainability. I’ll give you an example we’re using at elumatec. Around 90 per cent of the electricity used to compress air is converted into heat. Instead of wasting this energy, we use it to heat our water and storage heaters. To engineers, this kind of thinking isn’t revolutionary, but it often surprises those in other industries and sectors.

These innovations are good for business – using less energy helps us control both costs and prices – but we would do the planet no favours by keeping quiet about what we’re doing. When we have made a positive change, it’s right to spread the word, using the hashtags of social media, not as empty sound bites, but to highlight what can be done.

Reduce, reuse and recycle

By looking at every resource we consume, and by being efficient in their use, we can have an immediate impact. The mantra ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ goes a long way to explaining the principles. Though it sounds simple, it can be very effective. To give you an idea of what’s possible, elumatec has reduced its annual electricity bill by around €20,000. That’s enough to supply thirty-five, four-bedroomed homes.

This isn’t a one-off. We implemented our energy review programme in 2011. For over a decade we have been making significant economies and cutting by around sixty-six tonnes our annual carbon emissions.

In addition to using less power at the initial stage, looking in detail at a process may reveal more opportunities to save. At elumatec, we use lots of compressed air. Producing it is expensive in terms of energy, so we’ve worked hard to eliminate compressed air leaks. If you’re wondering how significant that can be, it’s worth knowing that, in industry, leakage rates of between 15 and 70 per cent are not unusual. People think it’s just air, conveniently ignoring the energy cost of compressing it.

Making sustainability a reality

As manufacturers, indeed as a society, we need to get into the habit of considering the impact of all our activities because one solution won’t be enough. At elumatec, looking at what we can do is an ongoing process. We’ve put solar panels on the roof of our company headquarters. They’re producing the electricity we use there. We’ve also switched to using energy-efficient servers. It might be a supermarket slogan, but every little does help.

I said at the start that sustainability must become more than a hashtag. It needs to be running through our thinking like the letters in a stick of Blackpool rock. We need to design things better, look at the supply chain and every stage of a product’s life cycle. We need to favour durability and adaptability rather than fashion while keeping thoroughly up-to-date on the best sustainable practices.

We also need to share what we’re doing. To learn both what others have achieved and what is possible. We must move sustainability from an ideal we tweet about to being
a part our day-to-day reality.

I believe we can do that.

Neil Parton

The Aluminium Industry in the UK

The aluminium industry is a vital part of the UK manufacturing sector. The strategic importance of this lightweight and highly recyclable metal looks set to increase as the UK economy moves towards more sustainable and circular models of production and consumption.

This report considers the ‘wider aluminium industry’, which we define to be the production of aluminium e.g., rods, bars, and pipes but also aluminium products such as casks, drums, cans, boxes, prefabricated buildings, doors, windows, and wheels which do not fall under the narrow definition of aluminium production.

Economic indicators for the wider aluminium industry:

• The wider aluminium industry directly employs 37,000 people across the UK, with the largest
share of those employed being located in the West Midlands.
• The wider aluminium industry contributes around £2.97 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA)
to the UK economy.

Economic impact of the wider aluminium industry:

The wider aluminium industry is closely tied to many other parts of the UK economy. The production and manufacturing of aluminium goods requires purchasing from suppliers which supports output and employment across the UK.

Our economic model of the UK has been used to estimate the amount of economic activity supported directly and through spill-over impacts by the wider aluminium industry, we find the wider aluminium industry supports:

• The employment of 97,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the across the UK
• The contribution of £6.8 billion in GVA

Read more: The Aluminium Industry in the UK Report 2021