Worker sanding car door with 3M abrasives
Automotive Manufacturing: Abrasives for Surface Sanding & Finishing

Automotive Manufacturing: Abrasives for Surface Sanding & Finishing

Not as heavy duty as in the metal shop, surface sanding and finishing is all about consistency before paint and coatings. You need to be able to remove material efficiently and quickly with a variety of abrasive grades to choose from in order to boost part quality and vehicle throughput during paint. 3M offers a wide selection of sanding discs in multiple backing materials, power tools and handpads to make quick work of any application. Whether your next steps are leveling and highlighting or blending and removing scratches – our abrasives are the right choice for your process.

  • Worker sanding with 3M Xtract system
    Surface Conditioning
  • Surface preparation sanding with 3M Xtract
    Surface Preparation
  • Worker hand finishing a metal surface
    Surface Finishing

Building the right sanding system

Most applications in automotive assembly start with putting together the optimal systems. That means choosing the right sanding disc, matching it with the correct back-up pad, and combining it with a compatible sander. 3M offers everything you need to build the best system for your job. And for the applications where hand sanding is better, we’ve got you covered there too.

Choose a sanding disc backing.

3M sanding discs come in your choice of backing: net, film, and cloth, with Hookit™ and Stikit™ options to adhere the disc to your backup pad. Learn about the features of each backing type and see our recommended products in each category.

Net-Backed Sanding Discs

Go for performance. Leave the dust behind. 3M Xtract™ Sanding Discs allow up to 97% of the dust produced during sanding to be extracted, creating a cleaner, virtually dust-free work environment. Explore the 3M Xtract™ Series and find the right net disc for your job

  • Premium product featuring 3M Precision-Shaped Grain arranged in a unique pattern that delivers industry-leading cut-rate and long life. Available in a wide range of grades from 80+ to 320+.

  • Advanced Series sanding disc brings a value price, featuring 3M Precision-Shaped Grain mixed with premium aluminum oxide abrasive. Ideal for a wide range of substrates and applications.

Film-Backed Sanding Discs

Film backings are best for achieving a uniform, consistent finish. Sanding discs with film backings offer good tear resistance and durability, with a longer life than paper sanding discs. Choose a film-backed disc for sanding aluminum, paint, primer, gelcoat, wood and solid surfaces.

Cloth-Backed Sanding Discs

Sanding discs with a cloth backing are best for coarse grade sanding and heavy stock removal on stainless steel, mild steel and wood. These random orbital sanding discs offer excellent tear resistance and excellent durability.

  • Premium X-weight cloth sanding disc with 3M Precision-Shaped Grain, available in grades 40+ to 120+.

  • 3M™ Hookit™ Cloth Disc 900DZ cuts fast with 3M Ceramic Abrasive Grain resin-bonded to a light and flexible J-weight cloth backing. Available in 7 grades, this 5-inch disc features an open-coat design and anti-static properties, making it exceptionally well-suited for materials that tend to load.

Paper-Backed Sanding Discs

  • Our 3M™ Cubitron™ II Clean Sanding Paper Disc 732U features 3M Precision Shaped Ceramic Grain, a revolutionary advancement in abrasive technology. The triangular shaped ceramic mineral is designed to slice through the substrate, rather than gouging or “plowing” like conventional abrasives, resulting in a disc that cuts up to 2x as fast and lasts up to 4x as long as conventional abrasives.

Next, choose your sanding disc pad.

We offer random orbital sander disc pads for every step in your sanding process — including clean sand disc pad options. Choose from Hookit™ pads with a hook-and-loop face or Stikit™ pads designed for use with adhesive-backed discs.

Low - Profile Disc Pads

Disc pads designed for applications focused on material removal. Available in both Hookit(TM) and Stikit(TM) attachment types. Firm yet flexible to give you versatility for flat sanding applications. Use this disc pad with coarse grades where good leveling is needed. This innovative pad is constructed of firm density foam with a 35 degree tapered edge and is ideal for aggressive flat sanding operations.

Standard Disc Pads

Disc Pads for use with disc, random orbital, and rotary sanders. They have a tough vinyl face that provides excellent disc adhesion yet allows quick, easy disc removal. A variety of lightweight, shock-resistant pads are available in 3-, 5- and 6-inch diameters.

Finishing Disc Pads

Softer, more conformable disc pads designed to help you achieve a finer finish. Available in both Hookit(TM) and Stikit(TM) attachment types. Soft density backup pad in 5 or 6-inch diameters for 5- and 6-inch abrasive discs. The soft density foam provides additional conformability and is ideal for final surface finishing applications following leveling and blending process steps.

Featured manual and hand sanding solutions.

We offer random orbital sanders for every step in your sanding process. For virtually any application and set-up.

Random Orbital Sanders

Manual Sanding

  • Our 3M™ Wetordry™ Cloth Disc 481W was designed to help operators finish metal surfaces, as well as prep them for paint. Wetordry™ cloth may be run wet or dry and helps rid your workpiece of unwanted coatings and corrosion.

  • This abrasive accessory helps operators apply even pressure to their 3M™ screen cloth discs and, consequently, the substrate. With a hand strap attached to the back of the pad, the accessory is easy to use and provides access to workpiece areas that may be hard to reach with machines.

  • 3M™ Flexible Diamond Hand Lap 6200J is a good match for finishing applications that require aggressive sanding, such as highlighting body-in-white automotive defects.

Resources for Automotive Surface Sanding & Finishing

Sanding with the 3M Xtract system
Connect with a 3M Abrasives expert.

Ask An Abrasives Expert

All fields are required unless indicated optional

  • 3M takes your privacy seriously. 3M and its authorized third parties will use the information you provided in accordance with our Privacy Policy to send you communications which may include promotions, product information and service offers. Please be aware that this information may be stored on a server located in the U.S. If you do not consent to this use of your personal information, please do not use this system.

  • Submit

Thank You

Thank you for your interest in 3M Abrasive products. A 3M representative will contact you shortly regarding your inquiry.

Our Apologies...

An error has occurred while submitting. Please try again later...