Brush Filament Styles - Brushes 101

Tanis has four abrasive nylon filament types including silicon carbide, silicate, aluminum oxide and our exclusive 3M™ abrasive grain 321 filament.

Tanis has four abrasive nylon filament types including silicon carbide, silicate, aluminum oxide and our exclusive 3M abrasive grain 321 filament. An abrasive filament is a unique type of filament that combines nylon and an abrasive grit which is dispersed uniformly and impregnated through the nylon thread base in a special formulation to deliver durability, chemical resistance, strength and stiffness, even when wet. Abrasive filament provides sharp cutting edges of grit, which can be held firmly against any surface, no matter how irregular its shape. As the brush moves against the surface, the flexible filaments bend at various angles to fit the surface contours, allowing the cutting edges of the grit to have continuous contact. Abrasive filaments are as aggressive on the sides as the tips.

Abrasive filament is most often made with the highest-quality nylon 6.12 for use in wet or dry applications. Nylon 6 or Nylon 6.6 is suitable for dry applications and can be treated against thermal degradation. Filaments are available in a broad combination of grit sizes (2000 grit to 46 grit), loading (20% to 40%) and diameters (.012" to .060").


This exclusive new filament is a tough, hard and self-sharpening abrasive grain with a durable crystalline structure that increases the life of the product. The abrasive grain mineral is a proprietary product of 3M. The mineral grain in CeramiX wears away in smaller chunks leaving more mineral available to continuously work on the metal surface. Available in 220, 180, 120 and 80 grit sizes.

CeramiX™ provides superior benefits including enhanced cutting action of three-to-five times faster on ferrous metal surfaces compared to traditional abrasive nylons, increasing throughput, uniform filament wear and distribution of abrasive grain providing consistently smooth surface finishes and performs well under high stress and heat.


Silicon carbide is harder, sharper and more aggressive than aluminum oxide and because its more durable it is preferred for finishing ferrous metals. Silicon carbide is generally available in 500 to 46 grit and diameter ranges from .018" to .060". Benefits of this filament type include uniform wear and distribution of abrasive grain, consistently smooth finish, less filament breakage compared to wire, increased throughput and a longer brush life with lighter work pressure.


Silicate is a fine grade abrasive filament for fine finishing and cleaning. It is available in .008" diameter and 2000 grit for micro-finishes used most commonly in miniature twisted-in-wire brushes.


Aluminum oxide is more impact-resistant compared to silicon carbide and is less likely to fracture and is preferred for finishing soft metals or other materials where a smooth finish is required. Aluminum oxide is generally available from 600 to 80 grit and diameter ranges from .012" to .040".

Tanis provides a wide variety of natural fibers as dependable substitutions for applications where synthetic filaments are not suited. We offer natural fibers such as horsehair, goat hair, tampico and bristle for industrial application brushes and bristle, ox hair, sable, pony hair and camel hair specifically for artist brushes.


Horsehair fibers are produced using mane or tail hairs, each providing a different stiffness and texture. This natural fiber is best known for its ability to polish surfaces without being abrasive and is excellent at picking up dust and fine powders. Horsehair can be mixed with other natural, synthetic and wire materials for specific customer applications. Horsehair colors include brown, black, mixed grey, silver grey and white.


Goat hair is a very fine, soft fiber available in either black or white in color. It is used for very short trim soft brushes. Goat hair has a blunt tip, but retains large volume of fluid.


This natural fiber is produced from the agave plant and has exceptional water retention characteristics, excellent biodegradability and superior heat and chemical resistance. Its soft to medium texture will soften when it absorbs water. It is able to withstand high temperatures without melting, but will discolor.


This fiber is produced from a pig or a boar and is used in both industrial brushes as well as artist brushes because its naturally splitting ends are ideal for carrying and transporting liquids. It maintains shape and stiffness in use over a long period of time. Bristle comes in gray, black or white (natural) colors.


This artist brush fiber is from the ears of cattle or oxen and is very silky to the touch. It is a strong, springy, resilient hair that is more rigid than sable and as stiff as natural bristle.


Sable is a fiber made from the hair of a weasel and is available in two color types – red and black. Sable is springy, soft to the touch, and naturally forms a point, allowing a great deal of control. Black sable the more expensive, higher-quality choice and it is more resilient to solvents and the chemicals found in oils.


Pony hair is a fiber from the belly of a horse and it is strong, resilient, slightly coarse and very absorbent.


This fiber is not actually made from camel hair, but is made from various inexpensive hairs – pony, bear, sheep, squirrel – mixed together. This soft hair is typically used in economical, disposable artist brushes.

Synthetic filament types combine several beneficial characteristics ideal for use in many brush products and for several applications including excellent bend recovery and abrasion and chemical resistance. Tanis offers five different synthetic filament options – nylon, quill, polypropylene, polyester and PTFE (Teflon®).


Tanis carries four types of nylon filaments available in several colors, with crimped or level (straight) fibers and diameters ranging from .003" to .125". Nylon is an effective filament choice for use in wet conditions because it has a high absorption rate, reducing the filament stiffness. Nylon also has the highest heat deflection temperature, but is prone to oxidation embrittlement after long exposure to high temperature.

  • Nylon 6 is a quality filament, providing durability at a lower cost for several applications. Reduces stiffness in wet conditions by 80%.
  • Nylon 6.6 is a high-quality nylon filament that has improved wet and dry stiffness compared to Nylon 6. It has excellent bend recovery and abrasion resistance. A heat stabilizer additive makes this filament less prone to oxidation.
  • Nylon 6.12 is a superior grade, high-quality nylon filament that offers excellent bend recovery and abrasion resistance. Its low moisture absorption makes it an excellent filament choice for wet applications. The individual fibers can be made in an "X" shape to increase performance and wear characteristics.
  • Anti-Static Nylon filaments eliminate the problems generated by static charges by providing a rapid dissipation of the charge. Traditional, conductive nylon materials have to be grounded in order to dissipate charges, whereas anti-static materials inhibit the generation of static charges initially.


Quill is a hollow 6.12 filament that is used in a variety of applications but is most commonly used in paint brushes and tape dispenser brushes.


This superior quality and versatile filament has excellent wet stiffness and flex fatigue resistance. Inert to most solvents, oils and chemicals, polypropylene is especially good at resisting strong acids and bases. While it still has good bend recovery, Polypropylene has limited natural sunlight resistance which is greatly improved with a black colored filament.

Polypropylene filaments are made with crimped or level (straight) fibers and several colors and diameters from .003" to .060". It can be made with a triangular or "X" shape and made flagged or unflagged for improved surface contact and liquid retention. This shaped polypropylene is also available in larger sizes.


Polyester has improved abrasion resistance compared to polypropylene and is an economical substitute for nylon 6.6 or 6.12 for many applications. This fiber has good resistance to sunlight, excellent bend recovery and is solvent resistant and oxidation resistance at high temperatures. It is an ideal filament for many wet applications because the fiber does not absorb much water. A heat stabilizer additive makes filament less prone to oxidation.

Polyester filaments are made with a crimped or level (straight) fiber, several colors and diameters ranging from .006" to .075". Polyester can be made in a "X" shape for improved liquid retention.


PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene) is most well-known by its brand name – Teflon®. This filament is inert to most chemicals and is excellent material for high temperature applications for continuous use limit at 500°F. PTFE is available in .008", .011", .016" and .035" filament diameters.

Wire filaments are essential components in many of Tanis’s brush products that require a strong, sharp and aggressive filament. The most commonly used wires are high-carbon steel, stainless steel (types 302, 304, 316), brass and phosphorous bronze are described below. Tanis also offers a urethane encapsulation process for wire fill materials.


Steel is a heat-treated, high-tensile strength wire with excellent fatigue resistance and brushing action. Brushes with a wire diameter from .008" and above use high-carbon steel wire. Brushes with a wire diameter from .003" to .006" use hard drawn wire for fine surface work. Available in .003" to .020" wire diameters.


Tanis offers three types of stainless steel wires in our industrial brushes. These wires are extremely tough, ductile and excellent for corrosion resistance.

  • Type 302 becomes slightly magnetic when cold-worked and has excellent fabrication and welding characteristics. Available in .003" to .020" wire diameters.
  • Type 304 is the most commonly used type of stainless steel and shares many of the same characteristics of type 302. Recommended where contamination or "after rust" is a problem such as brushing stainless steel and non-ferrous metals. Available in .003" to .020" wire diameters.
  • Type 316 maintains a higher tensile strength at elevated temperatures while offering superior corrosion resistance in chlorides and many other environments, making it the best wire choice for highly contaminated applications. Available in .003" to .020" wire diameters.


Brass is a non-ferrous and softer wire compared to steel and stainless steel. It has a high conductivity effective for reducing heavy static in a concentrated area. Brass is corrosion resistant and an excellent choice for cleaning scratch susceptible surfaces. Available in .003" to .020" wire diameters.


Phosphorous bronze is a non-ferrous wire with excellent corrosion resistance, good fatigue life and high electrical conductivity for reducing static in a concentrated area. Bronze is used for better corrosion resistance and greater strength than brass. Available in .003" to .020" wire diameters.