Machine shops, jewelers, and metal fabricating operations understand that there is a lot more to producing a part or piece than cutting or stamping. Most fabricated metal pieces must undergo a finishing process to remove remnants called burrs, prepare metal surfaces for coatings, or to polish the items to a gleaming shine. Consider these essential tips for mass finishing.
What Is Mass Finishing?
Mass finishing causes abrasive media to vibrate or tumble around a large volume of individual parts that also are rotating, vibrating, or flowing within a machine. This movement of abrasive media and metal parts against one another creates friction that gently files impurities, called burrs, off the parts, rendering them uniform. When heat, lasers, lathes, saws, or stamping machines cut or shape metal parts, they can leave behind little beads or shards—akin to little metal hangnails—that can render a part useless. That’s where the finishing process comes in.
Depending on the volume of parts that must be finished, shops will use a giant vibratory finisher, an industrial tumbler, or another appropriately sized barrel, trough, or bowl tumbler to do the job.
Essential Tips for Mass Finishing
Several factors play into a successful mass finishing process:
- Select the right machine: finishing machines come in rectangular-shaped tubs that vibrate, enclosed barrels that tumble, or donut-shaped bowls that circulate parts. These machines vary in whether they accept dividers, how the materials come out of the machine, how long the process takes, and whether the process can run continuously or must be performed in batches. These machines also differ in how the parts and media discharge when the process is over—through a chute or sieve (to remove media and fluids), by a funnel, or with a continuous belt system that separates parts from media and sends the media to work within the vibrating machine.
- Choose the correct media: abrasive media comes in various forms, from triangular plastic pieces to round ceramic or stainless-steel beads. The type of material undergoing finishing determines the correct media. Some finishing processes add water or specially formulated fluids to enhance the process.
- Identify the desired result: selecting both machine and media depends on the desired result. Precision industrial parts must meet specifications to be free of burrs and imperfections and to have a smooth surface that accepts coatings. However, they may not need to be polished and burnished to a high shine. Jewelry and heirloom silver, as well as other pieces designed to be visible or decorative, might require a finishing process that produces a gleaming surface.
- Determine the job’s size: giant industrial vibratory finishers can handle large jobs and big parts, while rotary and bowl machines are better for smaller, more delicate parts done in batches.
Mass finishing is less labor-intensive and, thus, more economical than old-fashioned manual processes. We hope these essential tips for mass finishing are helpful, but remember, these are just general pointers. Each job and every shop is different. Contact AccuBrass to discuss what mass finishing process, machine, and media will work best for you.
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