Polishing is the finishing processes for smoothing a workpiece’s surface using an abrasive and a work wheel or a leather strap. Technically, polishing refers to processes that use an abrasive that is glued to the work wheel, while buffing uses a loose abrasive applied to the work wheel. Polishing is a more aggressive process while buffing is less harsh, which leads to a smoother, brighter finish.

Polishing is often used to enhance the look of an item, prevent contamination of instruments, remove oxidation, create a reflective surface, or prevent corrosion in pipes. In metallography and metallurgy, polishing is used to create a flat, defect-free surface for examination of a metal's microstructure under a microscope. Silicon-based polishing pads or a diamond solution can be used in the polishing process.
Polishing stainless steel can also increase the sanitary benefits of stainless steel.

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