Here is all you need to know about brushes on the internet.
You will learn:
- What is a Brush?
- How Brushes Are Made
- Uses for Brushes
- Types of Brushes
- And much more…
Chapter 1: What are Brushes?
A brush is a tool with bristles made of hair, wire, metal, synthetic fibers, or various natural materials that are attached to a handle made of wood, plastic, wire, or metal. Some varieties of brushes are adapted to be connected to power tools for heavy duty work such as removing paint or smoothing metals.
There is an endless variety of brushes, from hair artist’s brushes to brushes that are a couple feet in diameter used to clean floors and polish metals. The shape and design of brushes are adjusted to fit different applications.
Brushes are manufactured and produced to fit any application. Cylinder shaped brushes are used to clean conveyor belts and for the brushing of product substrate. Sanding brushes have bristles made of sandpaper to clean wood surfaces. Extra small micro brushes are ideal for gently applying cleaners to technical equipment and gluing small parts.
Chapter 2: How Brushes are Made
As innovative applications develop and designs change, new brushes are constantly being developed to meet new conditions. Though there have been many changes over the years, the basic design of brushes has remained constant with handles and bristles being the common elements.
How Brushes are Made
Block or Handle -
The first consideration in the construction of a brush is the handle. It has to be made of a solid sturdy material that will hold the bristles in place but be able to take continuous use. The selected handle material is carefully inspected for any flaws that may weaken the strength of the brush.
Once the handle has been inspected and approved for use, it is molded into a raw form to meet brush specifications. Specially designed machines carefully work the handle to ensure that it meets and matches the brush’s design.
After the molding process, the handle is shaped to match its final form for the completed brush. Every handle is put through a different machining to match its final contour and shape. In the case of plastic handles, they are produced in a mold, while wire brush handles can be twisted, twinned, or machined.
Special Features –
The design of every brush is unique and has added features that makes the use of the brush easier. These features can include a loop on the top for handling and storage, grooves, or indentations to allow a better grip, or recessed bristles. Any additional characteristics are added to the handle to make use of the brush more convenient. The handle on the toothbrush style utility brush pictured below has special notches in the handle for easier grip and handling.
Prior to inserting the bristles, the handle has to be prepared. For brushes with wooden handles, holes are drilled for the bristles to be inserted. The same is true of plastic brushes, once the handle is shaped and formed, holes are drilled for the bristles. Wire handled brushes have the bristles twisted into the brush as is explained by the short video below.
Bristle Installation –
Bristles come in as many varieties as there are brushes. They can be made of vinyl, horsehair, plants, synthetics, polypropylene, and various forms of light metals. The choice of bristles is dependent on the final purpose and use for the brush. Though for many years, bristles were inserted by hand, and still are for certain forms of delicate or sensitive brushes, but for mass produced brushes, they are inserted by machine in tightly wound bundles.
The insertion process for placing bristles is critical to the performance and longevity of the brush. With some wooden brush handles, the bristle bundles are folded and stapled into predrilled holes. Brushes with plastic handles, fold the bundles, like wooden handled brushes, but secure the bristles by folding them over a small piece of metal. As explained in the video, wire handled brushes have the bristles twisted into the wire handle.
Chapter 3: Uses for Brushes
The uses for brushes spread across industries, homes, retail locations, and service industries. They are found in every possible location, whether it is the production of automobiles or sweeping the kitchen floor. Brushes have become an essential part of multiple applications. Described below are a few of the industries that use brushes.
Uses for Brushes
There is a wide assortment of brushes that are used in the bakery industry that include bench, fryer, pastry, sauce, greasing, icing, and scraping, to name a few. The type and design of a bakery brush is determined by the bristles, which can be rigid and tough or soft and pliable. These factors decide how the brush will be used.
The sterilization procedures for medical clinics and facilities are unique and ever becoming more stringent. Properly constructed medical brushes ensure that technical equipment, surgical instruments, and diagnostic devices are properly cleaned and sanitized. Cleaning is one of the many functions of medical brushes. They are used for collecting and depositing cell samples for testing.
Cleaning, maintenance, and facility management are the most common forms of brushes and the ones we think of first when we hear the word brush. There is a brush designed for every cleaning job from wiping the ceiling, washing the walls, scrubbing the window, or shampooing the carpet to brushes for removing wax from floors and smoothing or roughing concrete surfaces.
There are different textured brushes for cleaning and scrubbing cars. Brushes for the windows are slightly stiff but not enough to scratch the finish or surface of the window, while tire brushes are stiff and rigid to remove road tar and pavement. The design of automobile brushes are designed to withstand any cleaners or solvents. Car wash facilities use specially designed brushes that are used to wipe down the exterior of a car including the windows.
Brushes for the aeronautical industry are used for the manufacturing, maintenance, and repair of parts for aerospace. They include abrasive brushes for rounding sharp edges, removal of metal flakes, and surface conditioning. Other uses for aeronautical brushes are to fill gaps in doors, landing gear, and windows. Specialized brushes are designed to be flame resistant.
It may seem unlikely that brushes would play a part in space exploration. Surprisingly, when unmanned or manned spacecraft are sent to collect samples, brushes play an important role in the process. One of the problems astronauts experienced during the moon landing was the collection of dust that would have contaminated the landers cabin. Brushes were required to clean off the crews space suits.
As with maintenance brushes, household brushes are the first ones we think of when envisioning a brush. From washing the dishes and scrubbing floors to removing wallpaper, brushes are a major part of keeping houses clean.
Nuclear Industry –
Brushes used for nuclear operations have to meet a set of strict guidelines and be approved for use in nuclear facilities. They are designed using refractory materials that are able to withstand fusion environments and must comply with nuclear safety requirements.
Textile brushes are cylindrical with bristles and connecting flanges. The textile industry uses brushes to complete work that was once done by hand. Flocking brushes are used to remove flock from fabric to give it a finished look, while scavenger brushes remove excess material and fibers from production equipment.
Metal Finishing –
Brushes have multiple purposes in metal finishing. They are an important part of removing burrs from finished parts, polishing, and creating brushed finishes. The key to the design of metal finishing brushes is the bristle design, which has to be the exact length and density to meet the parameters of the finishing operation.
Door bottom brushes seal the gap at the bottom of a door to prevent sound, light, drafts, insects, moisture, smoke, or fire from entering a room. They are a simple, inexpensive way to insulate a room and can be installed inside or outside to conserve energy and save on utility bills.
Chapter 4: Types of Brushes
Though there are many different types of brushes, they can be categorized as an applicator, material removal brush, or combing brush. The brushes in each group have design features that make them distinct and unique.
Applicator brushes are used to apply a substance to a surface as a coating, covering, or means of protection.
Artist Brushes -
Artist brushes have different bristle types, shapes, and densities, depending on the delicacy of the work to be created. The different types of bristles also require different handles for each project with stippling brushes being in a variety of diameters, while oil painting brushes are smaller and more refined.
Miniature Brushes –
Miniature brushes are used to clean, paint, and polish and can be handheld or used as attachments to drills and power tools. Though miniature brushes are commonly used by artists, specially designed miniature brushes are used for industrial applications.
Polishing Brushes –
Polishing brushes are used to clean jewelry, cars, shoes, metals, and stainless steel dishware. They are less abrasive than wire brushes since they are used on a surface after it has been cleaned. Polishing brushes enhance the surfaces of materials to make them shine and have a finished appearance.
Material Removal Brushes
Material removal brushes are vital cleaning tools that are used for domestic, commercial, and industrial purposes.
Anti-Static Brushes –
Anti-static brushes are made with natural materials and conductive synthetic fibers for static dissipation when cleaning electronics. They are ideal for cleaning film, slides, scanners, cameras, plastics, acrylics, jewelry, glass, cuvettes, microscopes, electronics and computer monitors, industrial instruments, and technical and laboratory equipment.
Bottle Brushes –
Bottle brushes are also known as twisted, tube, pipe, and spiral brushes and can be handheld or attached to power tools, which include drills, drill presses, and CNC machines. They are made by putting bristles in between stem wires and twisting the wires. Pipe style bottle brushes are used in plumbing and equipment maintenance to clean pipes or hard to reach areas.
Power Brushes –
Power brushes are power driven, wheel shaped brushes powered by variable speed machines. Applications include metal deburring, removing rust, paint or coatings, gear and thread cleaning, surface preparation for welding or painting, and surface finishing.
Vacuum Brushes –
Vacuum brushes are made with soft, natural material such as camel, goat, or sable hair, nylon, and synthetic materials. They vary in size and shape depending on the surface to be cleaned.
Industrial Wire Brushes
Wire brushes have metal bristles and are used for deburring, surface brushing, and parts cleaning. They can be handheld, or power driven.
Wheel Brushes –
There are several varieties of wheel brushes that include different forms of bristles and how the bristles are attached. It is difficult to place one definition with any form of brush since they come in so many types and kinds. Some wire wheel brushes are circular shaped and have a base or core attached to wire bristles, which are affixed in holes drilled in the core. They are used for industrial applications requiring continuous operation. They are exceptional as surface treatment tools.Other forms of wheel brushes, such as those used for power tools, have metal parts that are press fitted together to hold the bristles in place or spot welded for the same purpose.
Rotary Brushes –
Rotary brushes come in a wide variety of sizes from ones that are handheld to ones that fit on street sweepers and runway cleaners. They can be found at the end of conveyor belts to clean off debris and be shaped like a cylinder or oval, depending on the use.
Strip Brushes –
Strip brushes, that are made of long strips of bristles, are used to seal the space between and under doors or as cleaning tools.Their bristles are made of nylon, wire, or horsehair for its abrasion resistance and strength. Strip brushes are used as dust, moisture, or light barriers and weather stripping. They can be found in conveyor assemblies to guide products along the belt.
Detail Brushes –
Detail brushes have nylon bristles to remove wax and dirt build-up from crevices. Brass bristles are used for removing corrosion from hard to reach places, while stainless steel bristles are used to remove rust from metal or chrome surfaces.
Cup Brushes –
Cup brushes are used to remove scale, rust, paint, deburring, and polishing. They are designed in different configurations to fit a variety of applications and come in several sizes.
Cylinder Brushes –
Cylinder brushes are used for conveyor cleaning or brushing of product substrate. The bristles of a cylinder brush can be steel, stainless steel, brass, or bronze wire and are attached to a cylinder with a shaft in the middle. They are found in agriculture, lead acid battery production, gypsum board production, concrete form cleaning, filtration screen cleaning, foundry sand conveyors, glass cleaning, metal fabricating, paper mills, printing, sawmills, and plywood production.
Centerless Brushes –
Centerless brushes are large circular brushes that are shaped like a cylinder with wire bristles of varying sizes, which include fine, medium, or coarse. They are used to improve surface finishes or relieving stress areas on parts. Centerless brushes are used to remove burrs and operate with a minimum of pressure between the bristles and the work surface.
End Brushes –
End brushes are used where the amount of space for brush operation is restricted or small. They are made with a wide assortment of bristle types and configurations that include encapsulated, hollow centered, flared, and knot style bristles.
Combing brushes are used to straighten and detangle filaments with the most common type of combing brush being the standard hairbrush, which includes brushes for animal grooming and human hair.
The bristles for combing brushes vary from stiff rigid ones to soft textured ones and are chosen in accordance with the fibers or filaments to be combed.
Chapter 5: Materials Used to Manufacture Brushes
There is a basic design for all brushes, which includes bristles and a handle or holding mechanism. From these basic features, brushes expand rapidly into a wide variety of shapes, sizes, materials, and uses. The first consideration for brushes is the handle or holding mechanism since it must be sturdy enough to withstand extended use.
Brush Handles or Holders
Stainless Steel –
Stainless steel is widely used in all forms of brushes due to its strength, chemical resistance, durability, rust and corrosion resistance, and ability to be fitted to a wide variety of applications. The most common grades of stainless steel are 302, 304, and 316.
Wood is the most common type of brush handle, but has been gradually replaced by synthetics and plastics. It can be shaped and configured for any type of brush and can be coated for protection to increase its usefulness.
Fiberglass is used as a handle due to its lightweight, non-magnetic and conductive properties, as well as its ability to be easily shaped and molded. It is used as a handle for a wide variety of applications.
Twisted Wire –
Twisted wire handles are adaptable to handheld or power tool use. The sturdiness and durability of twisted handle brushes has made them an essential tool for several industries from metal finishing to automobile cleaning.
Aluminum is used as a handle after being alloyed with another metal. Though it is corrosion and rust resistant, it does not have the tensile strength to perform as a brush handle.
Aside from plastic, other synthetic materials are used in the production of brush handles. They include several polymer based materials such as polypropylene and polyethylene. Since synthetics can be shaped and produced in a variety of tensile strengths, shapes, and consistencies, they are widely used in brush manufacturing.
Plastic is normally used as a handle because it is lightweight, chemical resistant, and has a long life. The types of plastic handles vary depending on the application.
Bristle or Fill Materials
Camel Hair: Camel hair brushes are made from soft hair from a variety of animals and are a low quality, inexpensive bristle.
Goat Hair: Goat hair is very soft with a natural kink and is used for short, soft bristle brushes like cosmetic and electronic industry brushes. It can easily be colored.
Hog Bristle: Hog bristle brushes are scarce and expensive. Each bristle is tapered, which gives it resilience. The tip end is split and stiff. Hog bristles have excellent durability and water resistance.
Horsehair: Horse hairs are differentiated between tail and mane hair with tail hair being stiffer than mane hair. The soft to stiff texture creates brushes with excellent durability. Horsehair is absorbent because of its tapered scales, which makes it useful for buffing, cleaning, dusting, and finishing.
Ox Hair: Ox hair is the stiffest, strongest, and most resilient of the hair bristles. It is taken from the ears and has a springiness or snap like sable hair but has blunt ends.
Red Sable: Red sable is the most valuable of all of the natural hair materials. It is fine, strong, has sharp points, great elasticity and can be easily colored. Red sable hair is tapered, which creates a fine point.
Squirrel: Squirrel hair is very fine and ideal for applying lacquers, colors, and varnishes. It can be used for cosmetic and forensic brushes. Depending on the type of squirrel, the hair can be expensive.
Bassine: Bassine is a type of Palmyra fiber that is stiffer, durable, and resistant to water. The fibers are a dark brown and coarse, which makes them ideal for scrub brushes and conveyor cleaning brushes.
Palmetto: Palmetto fibers are coarse, reddish, and specially treated for wet applications. They are used for deck and can scrubbers, garage sweepers, and whisk brooms.
Palmyra: Palmyra fibers are cinnamon colored and taken from the leaf stalks of the India Palmyra palm. They have medium stiffness and are of a lower quality than bassine.
Tampico: Tampico fiber comes from stalk of the Agave plant and has a soft to medium texture in an off white color. It is heat, alkali, and acid resistant with porous fibers that can absorb water. Tampico fibers can withstand temperatures up to 283º F.
Combination Fibers: Specially designed brushes blend the various fibers to take advantage of each type of fibers characteristics.
Carbon Fiber: Carbon fiber is fine and made of over 90% pure carbon with exceptional tensile strength. It is good for light touch non-contact grounding brushes due to its conductivity.
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE): HDPE is a thermoplastic polymer and is one of the most versatile plastics. It has excellent tensile strength and strength-to-density ratio with high impact resistance and melting point.
Nylon: Nylon fibers have an excellent fatigue life, abrasion resistance, low to moderate absorption of water that causes a temporary reduction in stiffness, excellent bend recovery rate, resistance to most common solvents, and can be used with weak acids. Nylon fibers are normally used for industrial applications.
There are various types of nylon fibers, which include conductive, high temp, antistatic, types 6, 6.6, and 6.12.
- Conductive: has a thick electrically conductive carbon coating
- High Temperature: is able to resist oxidation at elevated temperatures
- Antistatic: has a antistatic coating spread throughout the strands
- Type 6: is a low cost fiber that has good bend recovery, temperature stability, and abrasion resistance.
- Type 6.6: is high quality nylon at an average price that is stiff, has good bend recovery, and abrasion resistance.
- Type 6.12: is a superior nylon with low water absorption and excellent bend recovery and abrasion resistance. It is the highest-grade nylon able to resist rot, mildew, and bacterial growth
Peek: Peek is a thermoplastic that is chemical resistant, does not absorb moisture and can be used in high heat and corrosive environments. It has flexural and tensile strength able to withstand temperatures up to 480º F or 250° C.
Polyester: Polyester is durable with high temperature resistance and can recover without whip or slapping. It is resistant to the effects of acids, alkalis, alcohols, gasoline, benzene, and cleaning solvents.
Polyethylene: Polyethylene is a soft and durable fiber that does not scratch surfaces. It is useful in applications where abrasion needs to be avoided and is ideal for washing and polishing of fruits and vegetables.
Polypropylene: Polypropylene is stiff and low cost. It does not absorb moisture or odors and easily sheds dirt. Its wet stiffness with a non-brittle abrasive tip and inertness to solvents, oil, acids, and chemicals, makes it the most chemically resistant synthetic fiber.
Polystyrene: Polystyrene is a stiff, chemically resistant long wearing bristle with excellent consistent performance.
Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE): PTFE, or Teflon, is a polymer that is inert to chemicals, resistant to mineral and oxidizing acids, alcohols, ketones, ethers, amines, esters, chlorinated compounds, and cleaning solvents. It is soft with low tensile strength but maintains its resilience up to 500º F or 260° C.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): PVC is economical, has a good flex life, low friction resistance, and does not lose stiffness when wet.
Thunderon ®: Thunderon is a soft acrylic fiber chemically bonded with a layer of copper sulfide, where the outer layer becomes a part of the acrylic fibers.
Aluminum Oxide (Al2O3): Aluminum oxide is impact resistant and unlikely to fracture when stressed. It is used for finishing soft metals where a smooth finish is needed.
Silicon Carbide (SiC): Silicon carbide is hard and sharp and used for finishing ferrous metals.
Aluminum: Aluminum is soft and non-corrosive with excellent conductivity, but is only used for special applications.
Brass: A copper-zinc alloy, brass is the least abrasive metal filament material and is used for light cleaning and finishing. It is a conductive metal and resistant to sparking and corrosion. Brass filament brushes can be used in hazardous environments where there may be flammable or corrosive materials.
Bronze: Bronze, another copper alloy that includes tin. The tin content makes bronze brush filaments harder and more durable than brass. Like brass, bronze is corrosion and spark resistant to brass with the same level of conductivity.
Carbon Steel: Carbon steel can be straight or crimped and has an excellent cutting ability as well as fatigue resistance at a low cost. It is used for cleaning, rust removal, deburring, edge blending, and roughing adhesion.
Nickel Silver: Nickel silver is very resistant to chemicals and is used as a staple wire to hold the bristles in handles. It is non-magnetic and stiffer and harder than brass or bronze.
Phosphor Bronze: Phosphor bronze is non-sparking and less conductive than copper but stronger than brass with a longer wear life and resists corrosion and fatigue.
Stainless Steel: Various grades of stainless steel are used for the production of wire brushes. The most common are 302, 304, and 316 for wet and rust resistant applications. Due to its corrosion resistance, it is used in brushes that have to deal with corrosive materials.
Titanium (Ti): Titanium is strong with excellent bend recovery and corrosion resistance because of a thin layer of titanium dioxide. It is non-magnetic and biocompatible but is seldom used for brushes due to its high cost.
Other Metal Bristle Materials: Other possible wire bristle materials include Inconel 600, Monel, beryllium copper, copper nickel, nickel 200, platinum, and tungsten.
Chapter 6: Brush Manufacturing Regulations
There isn’t one set of standards for the manufacturing of brushes since they come in so many varieties. Specialized brushes for the food industry, pharmaceuticals, and cleanrooms have to meet the standards set for those industries.
Cleanrooms are used for processes where particulate contamination can affect the quality of goods produced. Cleanroom classifications and the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) class codes provide guidelines and descriptions for secure environments to lower product contamination or particulate interference. ISO standard 14644-1 for cleanroom standards are used to protect consumers from any flaws or mishandling of a product.
A section of the cleanroom standards outlines the storage and use of tools with specific guidelines regarding the quality and type of tools that can be used, including brushes, which must be manufactured using approved materials and processes.
Cleanroom brushes are required to be made from durable long lasting materials. Heat tolerant cleanroom brushes include bowl, vat, toothbrush style, and instrument cleaning brushes using nylon or antistatic nylon.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has standards that specify the quality and type of brushes that can be used in food preparation and cleaning. Brush manufacturers have developed materials and methods designed to meet the FDA’s exacting standards, which include brushes for bakeries, kitchens, and meat processing.
The food industry is highly scrutinized, which forces suppliers to work diligently to ensure their products meet FDA requirements. The main focus is food quality and safety for the protection of the public.
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) has a set of European and international standards that are used to ensure food safety and provide preventative measures for food producers to identify critical control points (CCP) for physical, chemical, and microbiological hazards. Food producers must use HACCP principles in the regulation and inspection of their tools and equipment.
The standards for pharmaceutical brushes match those for cleanrooms since cleanrooms play a vital role in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Standards for the pharmaceutical industry are set by the FDA and have stringent requirements for cleanliness and sterilization.
Brushes are produced using polypropylene filaments and metal free, chemical resistant materials. They are used for cleaning straight and curved pharmaceutical tubes, where aggressive scrubbing is required without damaging or scratching the tube walls.
As with brushes on a production line, pharmaceutical brushes are used to move pills during production, counting, and polishing without breakage. They are made from varieties of thermoplastics designed to be moisture absorption resistant to avoid the growth of bacteria and any other form of contamination.
- A brush is a tool with bristles made of hair, wire, metal, synthetic fibers, or various natural materials that are attached to a handle made of wood, plastic, wire, or metal.
- The first consideration for brush construction is the handle or holding mechanism since it must be sturdy enough to withstand extended use.
- Though there have been many changes over the years, the basic design of brushes has remained constant with handles and bristles being the common elements.
- Brushes are found in every possible location, whether it is the production of automobiles or sweeping the kitchen floor.
- Though there are many different types of brushes, they can be categorized as applicator, material removal, and combing.