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Vibratory Finishing vs Barrel Tumbling – A Mass Metal Finishing Conundrum

Someone once suggested that choosing between a vibratory process and barrel tumbling is like trying to decide between a Toyota and a Honda. He said, “both will get you from point A to point B…in the end, it really comes down to preference.” The two operations deliver similar results, but are very different. So much so that in many cases, if you took the same part and ran one batch in a vibe unit and the other in a tumbler, the end result would be considerably different. 

 

 

Knowledge is Key

 

Located in Cambridge, Ontario, Latem Industries processes millions of parts every week through our vibratory and tumbling departments, so we certainly have some ownership in this market. Our team manages well over a dozen pieces of vibratory and tumbling machines daily, each unit set to achieve a different result.  Not only is Latem Industries celebrating 40 years of mass finishing in 2017, we are very proud to have several employees who have spent 30 or more years with us. Our team has seen a lot, and it is their knowledge that we draw on to find an efficient and equitable solution for all parties.

 

Mass Finishing – Vibratory Style

 

Vibratory finishing involves a bowl or tub, partially filled with media and topped off with parts in need of processing. Equipment ranges in size, from single digit cubic foot machines to units that are well over 100 cubic feet. In this technique, our machines vibrate vigorously, while slowly moving the parts around the machine in a corkscrew pattern. The media brushes up against the parts to remove edges, burrs, dirt, oil, and rust. With the right media and compound selection, it can even polish parts.

 

Vibratory finishing is ideal for just about any type of metal, in either a soft or a hardened state.

 

Mass Finishing – Barrel Tumbling Style

 

Barrel tumbling, or machine tumbling, is a part-on-part process and is considerably more aggressive than vibratory finishing. The end result is often the same—edge break, dirt, oil and rust removal, and even clean to a bright finish—but it is best suited for smaller, harder metal parts.

 

Our Approach

 

For us, it never comes down to preference, nor has it ever been just about ‘getting from point A to point B.’  There are too many possibilities in between those two stages for it to be that simple. Factors such as part geometry, weight, composition, incoming condition, and the next stage in the process all come into play when determining the best course of action. In the end, we focus on which process will deliver the best results, and yet also provide superior efficiency for our customer.

 

It’s these specific processes that got Latem Industries its start back in 1977. The challenge then was to find the best way to polish up trophy pieces for the family business in London. Today, we’re along the 401 in Cambridge and have grown substantially, but Latem is still in the mass finishing business. We still get the odd award or trophy topping to polish, but it is much more common for us to see truckloads of automotive parts.

 

Our business is all about solving problems in the manufacturing process, and even after 40 years, we continue to prove that point daily. If sharp edges, burrs, rust or even excessive dirt and oil is a problem, simply look for our sign on the south side of the 401 in Cambridge. Stop by or contact us through our website (latem.com) to quickly find out how we can be of service to your business.

 

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September 7, 2017
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