Sharp, hard materials used to wear away the surface of softer, less resistant materials. Abrasives are indispensable to the manufacture of the highly precise components and ultrasmooth surfaces required in the manufacture of automobiles, airplanes and space vehicles, mechanical and electrical appliances, and machine tools. Abrasives may be natural (e.g., diamond, corundum, emery) or synthetic (e.g., silicon carbide or Carborundum, synthetic diamond, alumina—a synthetic form of corundum). They range from the relatively soft particles used in household cleansers and jeweler's polish to diamonds.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on abrasives, visit Britannica.com.

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