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Different Types of Tumbling Media

Posted by Michael Wegener on

Different Types of Tumbling Media

Choosing the right tumbling media is necessary to achieve the desired results when deburring, cleaning, or polishing metal or other types of parts. The media provides friction within a vibratory deburring machine that cleans parts, files off rough edges, or polishes the surface of the part. Understanding the different types of tumbling media will aid in selection of the right kind for your deburring or polishing job.

Shape and Size

Different kinds of tumbling media come in many shapes, from triangles to cylinders, cones, or balls. The shape of the media you select depends on the shape of the parts you are tumbling. If the part has holes, choose media that will pass through the holes and polish it, but will not get stuck there. In such cases, it’s best to choose media that is about 70% the size of the opening on the part. Large parts typically require larger media, and vice versa.


Some kinds of tumbling media are made from metal, ceramic, plastic, or natural materials such as nutshells or corn cobs. Each material has a best use, working optimally on selected metals, plastics, or wood parts.

  • Plastic media is a good selection for soft metals such as aluminum or parts with threads. Plastic media does a good job deburring and polishing but doesn’t provide a high shine. Instead, it creates more of a matte finish.
  • Stainless steel is best for parts that need a lot of deburring or for shining and burnishing metal. Steel also works on ceramic and plastic parts. Steel puts stress on the metal being polished or deburred, resulting in work-hardened parts.
  • Ceramic media can provide heavier cutting on hard materials, such as steel. It works well on plastic parts that need a lot of abrasion.
  • Porcelain media is used to give a final polish to metal parts that have already been deburred with other media.
  • Organic media such as corn cobs, coconut shells, and walnut shells are used for light deburring or, in the case of corn cobs, for cleaning, because it can absorb oils.

You can also add wet compounds that enhance deburring or cleaning to these different types of tumbling media. These special formulations also provide corrosion and rust protection.

If you’re confused about what type of deburring media is right to use in your Mr. Deburr finishing machine for your next project, contact AccuBrass for information about what kind of media may work best.

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