Choosing an Automatic Flat-Lap
What To Know When Choosing an Automatic Flat-Lap
This article answers ALL the questions you will be asking when ordering an automatic flat-lap. There are always many different choices to choose from and this makes it easy to understand the differences, the advantages, and the disadvantages of each Covington lapidary flat-lap on Cutting Edge Supply.
The first question you need to ask yourself is “how large are the pieces I want/need to lap?” Once you have your answer to this question you can begin figuring out what size unit will work for your application.
Users tend to get the best results on a lap when the piece they are grinding is smaller than 1/2 the size of the pan and several pieces can be placed on the plate. Having multiple pieces on the pan ensures movement across the entire plate surface which also promotes more even plate wear.
Covington’s Vibrating Laps are constructed of heavy duty solid cast aluminum. A counterweight is attached directly to the motor which creates the vibrating motion in the unit. The lapping plate is cast aluminum and features a cast finish. Any imperfections in the casting plate surface will be removed on your first grind.
The Rociprolap® is a precision based unit constructed of heavy duty cast iron. The bases are machined true and the bearing holes are held to very tight tolerances. The plate is machined flat and the bearing race on the back side is parallel and true to the plate. Little pockets are drilled into the face of the plate to promote a faster grind.
Whereas the vibrating lap has a cast finish, the Rociprolap® features a machined finish. Additionally, the vibrating lap only vibrates due to a counterweight attached directly to the motor. By contrast, the Rociprolap®
requires a shaft with a perfectly engineered counterweight designed specifically to create the motion of the plate.
The plate sits on nylon ball bearings which are designed to wear out so as to prevent damage to more expensive parts of the unit. The plate bearing fits the shaft neatly and the plate spins as it reciprocates creating one more dimension of movement than the vibrating lap.
Please note that this unit is made of cast iron and it is impossible to prevent all rust. You can take precautions by cleaning out the plate after use and spraying the plate with WD-40.
Covington’s Rociprolap® has only been modified slightly from the old Jack Rose design. They have changed the counterweight shape
to be more efficient and added additional bearing cups to the base.
Besides size, what’s the difference between the vibrating lap and the Rociprolap®? This is the most common question from customers in the market for an automatic lapping unit. Simply put, precision. The Rociprolap® is a precision based unit, whereas the vibrating lap is not.
Can the Automatic Vibrating Lap grind my bottles? No. Any item that can topple over is not recommended for use on these units. These units are designed to work large flat pieces such as sheet or panel glass as well as book ends and stone slabs.
How fast will this unit lap my piece? If speed is what you are looking for, these types of units are probably not for you. It is difficult to calculate an exact time frame for lapping on these units because there are a variety of factors to consider. The biggest advantage to the automatic laps is that it takes the labor out of lapping. These units are designed for you to set in your piece and allow it to work while you work on something else.
Will the automatic laps polish my work piece? Yes. With the proper polishes and polishing pads, these units can be very effective at polishing. Remember, the key to getting a good polish is having the correct type of polish, the correct type of polishing pad, and a creamy consistency of polish and water on the pad.