People worked with tools before recorded history. In shaping tools, they must have soon discovered that certain substances are harder than others and not only would make more durable tools but could be used to abrade or form tools into more desirable shapes than those occurring naturally. This discovery led to the purposeful selection of hard materials useful as abrasives and, eventually, to a classification of minerals into a rough scale of hardness. Abrasives are those hard materials used to shape, to surface, and to sharpen tools and other things. In general, abrasives are used to clean, to form, and to dimension workpieces.
Later, as industrial needs expanded, mining and processing of natural abrasives developed, as did the fabrication of tools and machinery for their applications. These developments were followed by the manufacture of abrasives, now a key and important industry. The annual world consumption of abrasives and abrasive tools has a value in excess of one billion...
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