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Sample of Vibratory Finishing

Mass finishing has been around for over 50 years and yet it remains one of the most under-appreciated technologies, as well as one of the least-understood.  Some circles view it as a simplistic/low-tech and due to this, do not put the time and effort into finding the proper equipment and/or process, resulting in scrap, rework, higher finishing costs, and overall disappointment.

 

Thinking it is an “easy” process, many companies will try and incorporate the process in-house.  How hard can it be, right?  You put parts in a vibratory bowl, or a barrel tumbler, throw in some media…the internet says ceramic is a good idea, so we’ll throw that in…and let ‘er run.  When the parts don’t come out as expected, the process takes way too long to be efficient, or the process doesn’t appear to be repeatable, “they” conclude that mass finishing is over-rated.

 

What “they” don’t understand is that it is in fact a multifaceted system, incorporating each specific item and working perfectly together to reach a predetermined end goal.  Let’s take a deeper look at how each item assists in reaching the end goal.

Determining what equipment is required is the first step.  Incorrectly sized equipment could end up damaging the parts or damaging the machine itself.  You need to determine the ratio of parts to media, and ensure the machine is large enough to hold the media and parts, as well as to properly move the parts through the machine. Is the equipment and motor large enough to handle the load?  Is it large enough to prevent part on part damage? Are we getting the throughput required to be efficient? Is it too large; resulting in inefficiencies and increased costs? Is the “worn” media removal method capable for the part and media being ran?

 

Media selection is another vital cog in the production.  Media will determine your surface finish.  Are you looking to remove a burr or to polish? What type of metal or base is the part you are looking to finish?  Metal and plastics all have different hardness and require different medias. Too abrasive of media could damage your parts; too soft of media will wear too quickly or make the process too long. Complex geometries of parts need be considered.  Will the media shape or size reach all areas required?  Will the media break or become lodged in a part?  Can the media and part be separated during offload?

Water is another key factor.  Water works as a coolant and in conjunction with a compound, flushes out the residue removed from the part as well as the worn media.  How much water?  Not enough, and the media and parts will remain dirty. Too much and you are wasting compound and increasing costs.  Water cannot be too hard nor too soft. What materials are you introducing to your wastewater?  These need to be considered and accounted for. 

 

Compounds are the final piece to the puzzle.  Compounds are used to assist in deburring, dissolving dirt and grease, to assist in keeping the media clean as well as to provide corrosion resistance.  Which compound is required and what ration to water and to parts is essential.

sample of tumbled parts

As you can see, the process is much more complex than most realize.  Using the proper machine, media and water/compound are essential to surface finishing.  The smarter option is usually to not “re-invent” the wheel.  Rather than trying to put in your own system and experiencing the disappointment of many, give Latem Industries Limited a try.

 

Mass finishing has come a long way over the last 50 years.  Today, mass-finishing systems can produce practically any surface finish, from simple deburring to high-gloss polishing, on practically any kind of workpiece.

 Latem Industries Limited has been in this industry for over 45 years perfecting finishing solutions.  Give us a chance to help you with your surface finishing needs.

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