Machinery and media are nothing in the mass finishing world without the right compound.
A manufactured object can be designed to specifications, but if it doesn’t look and feel finished, it may be rejected. A metal alloy can be structurally perfect, but surface corrosion may make it less presentable. Process water may work well for initial cycles before contaminants wear down its effectiveness over time.
The right compound for a given mass finishing process can solve each of these problems and more.
Whether it be a process for polishing, surface cut down, grinding, deburring, cosmetic finishing, or just cleaning, an appropriate media is available. Choosing the media can seem daunting at first, with over 1700 various media and compounds available. Therefore, sample trials are of significant importance. Here are three considerations to think about when choosing the right media: Read more about media purchasing considerations
The quality of consumables used in mass finishing is a key factor in surface processing. Using consumables with a consistent high quality is crucial to attain set surface specifications, process times, costs and to manage considerations to any environmental impact.
There are in excess of 1700 types of vibratory media consisting of various shapes, sizes and incorporating a percentage of abrasive. These are divided typically between ceramic and plastic families.
Ceramic Media Production
A ceramic media has a higher density than that of plastic media. Ceramic chips of various shapes and sizes are formed, fired and held at certain temperatures and durations; providing an infinite range of variation and capability.
A consistent, supreme quality media is extremely important for the user to obtain a uniquely stable and reproducible surface finishing result.
Ceramic media is manufactured to exacting standards, controlled in a fully-automated way.
Plastic Media Production
The manufacture of the plastic media is also totally automated.
The plastic media is of a lower density than that of the ceramic media, therefore it is suitable for a more gentle treatment of critical component parts and softer metals.
The process involves mixing, forming and curing of the media and the whole process is computer controlled and continuously monitored. This quality standard ensures a consistent wear and cutting performance, and repetitive results during the finishing process.
Surface Finishing Compounds
Compounds can be added to the vibratory process, optimising the surface specification for: degreasing, brightening, polishing, corrosion protection and producing surfaces free of stains.
Another important function is keeping the process clean. The compound continuously flushes tiny metal particulates from the chip media and other contaminants out of the mass finishing system, keeping the media active and the parts free from contamination.
Depending on the specific process, compounds will provide various options of acidity and alkalinity as a pH factor.
Despite compounds being used for many years in mass finishing applications research and development constantly progress new formulations for special applications.
The range of different compounds is broadly diversified:
Abrasive media (for deburring, radiusing, blending machining marks, etc…) needs to have an ‘open face‘ to work as it should. This is where you can feel the abrasive particles when dragging your finger nail over the surface of the media (like a file).
As most media (ceramic and/or plastic) wear, the level in your machine can drop significantly over time. As mass finishing processes work by covering the part with the media and the media moving over the edges to create the deburring, radiusing, etc.. it is important a ratio of media : parts is retained.