A soft material called a lap is charged with an abrasive and then used to cut a harder material. The abrasive embeds within the softer material, which then acts as a holder for the abrasive and permits it to score across and cut the harder material.
Lapping can be used to obtain a specific surface roughness; it is also used to obtain very accurate surfaces of flatness and appearance.
Surface roughness for typical applications fall in the range of .1 to 1 Ra.
Surface accuracy or flatness is usually measured in Helium Light Bands, one HLB measuring about 0.000011 inches (11 millionths of an inch).
We use a 16", 3 arm system with several lapping plate types that produces superior results, allowing tolerances down to 1/4 to 1/2 HLB measuring about .000003 to .000006 inches.
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