A model has been developed to determine the number and sizes of abrasive particles involved in material removal in polishing, and the forces acting on these particles. The effect of particle size on these parameters has been simulated for a range of particle sizes. It is shown that when polishing with abrasive powders having relatively broad size distributions, only a very small percentage of the particles are involved in material removal. Further, these particles are comprised of the larger particles occurring in the tail end of the particle size distribution. The average force on a particle is found to be in the range of 5–200 mN under typical polishing conditions, which is of the order of loads used in micro-indentation hardness testing. These predictions of the model are consistent with observations pertaining to polished surfaces and the polishing process.

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