CIRP Encyclopedia of Production Engineering

2019 Edition
| Editors: Sami Chatti, Luc Laperrière, Gunther Reinhart, Tullio Tolio


  • Barbara LinkeEmail author
Reference work entry



The term “superabrasives” denotes abrasive grit materials with higher hardness (commonly higher than 4,000 HK) and refers to cubic boron nitride and diamond. Sometimes the term is also used to describe the tools made of these abrasives. Besides higher hardness, superabrasives are also characterized by higher wear resistance standing out from “conventional abrasives” like corundum and silicon carbide.

Theory and Application

Superabrasives are distinguished from conventional abrasives by their higher hardness, which is accompanied by higher Young’s modulus and heat conductivity but typically lower thermal stability (Table 1).
Superabrasives, Table 1

Physical properties of abrasive materials (Klocke 2009; Toenshoff and Denkena 2013; Rowe 2009)



Young’s modulus

Heat conductivity

Thermal stability



5,000–8,000 HK

890 GPa

600–2,100 W/m K

Up to 900 °C

Cubic boron nitride


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© CIRP 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringUniversity of California DavisDavisUSA