media and process water in mass finishing bowl

Mass Finishing Process Water, Part 1 – Understand When to Balance Flow or Flood the Process Bowl

Maintaining the correct compound and water flow rate into a mass finishing machine is essential for the stability and success of a process.

If inadequate compound and water are supplied to the machine, results will be more extreme and lead to unpredictable processing times, ineffective finishing, dirty work pieces after finishing, glazed media, and, potentially, a total collapse of the process.

Excessive compound and water flow can be equally problematic. Too much water and compound will slow down the movement of media and work pieces in the machine or cause a complete stop.

For example, in rotary vibrators the typical spiral movement of the media/work piece mix will give way to an uncontrolled shaking. In centrifugal disc machines, the rotating spinner will slip under the media/work piece mix with no movement at all.

Longer processing times, poor finishing results, and even a complete collapse of the process can occur.

For the best results and stability, Rosler understands that the flow rate of compound and water into the machine must be equal to the flow rate out of the machine.

What Goes In, Must Come Out

Compound and water fulfill distinct and important functions. The compound removes stains, dirt, and oil from the work pieces; burnishes and brightens them; and keeps the media clean. The water dissolves and distributes the compound in the machine, serves as a coolant for the finishing process and, above all, flushes out media and metal fines, and other contaminants from the machine.

Hence the importance of matching the amount of compound and water entering the machine to what is flushed out.

For example, if the drains are plugged with undersized media and debris, the compound/water mixture can become contaminated with media and metal fines and fail to remove oil and contaminants from the machine, jeopardizing results and machine functions.

Optimizing Operations

Achieving and maintaining a well-balanced process requires proactive evaluation and machine oversight. Key action points include:

  • Regularly monitoring the compound and water flow and make sure that it is as specified.
  • Ensuring that machine drains are not plugged and flowing easily.
  • Installing bigger undersized media screens if drains are easily backed up.

“Flooding” Benefits

Mass finishing media in a flooded work bowl

In some circumstances, it may be advantageous to run a process with high water levels or “flooding” the processing bowl with additional water.

Keeping in mind that too much water and compound in the machine can slow or completely stop movement of media and work pieces in the machine, extra process water can be used to provide an extra cushioning effect and reduce machine intensity to create a gentler process.

This prevents delicate work pieces from getting scratched or bent and even allows for certain polishing operations. Flooding the processing bowl can also protect the machine itself.

For example, very pointed work pieces with sharp edges can undergo an initial deburring process in high water mode to help protect the bowl’s wear lining. Once the sharp points and edges are slightly rounded and pose a lower risk of destroying the wear lining, the processing mode can be switched to a normal water level for additional finishing.

High water level mode is primarily utilized in high-energy systems like centrifugal disk finishing machines. Consult with your supplier to determine if running with high water is possible and feasible for your specific application.

The Rosler Way

“Finding a better way…” is more than a motto at Rosler; it’s our mission. With more than 80 years of experience and a portfolio containing more than 15,000 equipment and consumable products, solving challenges is what we do. Contact us today to discuss your process water challenges!

The Mass Finishing Water Balance Series will continue with, “Part 2 – Maintain Adequate Drainage to Protect Your System.”

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