How to find the right consumable for your mass finishing process

ActOn News

Posted on April 30, 2021 by

With such a wide range of media types and compounds, it can feel overwhelming when trying to choose the right consumable for your mass finishing process.

Using the correct machinery, media and compounds is key to achieving the optimum surface finish. Combined correctly, the media and compound allow you to achieve consistent and repeatable surface finish applications including deburring, polishing, descaling, radiusing, burnishing, surface smoothing, cleaning and degreasing.

How can I select the right media for my application?

From ceramic, plastic and drying media, view the variety of consumables available on the market. When selecting your media, you should consider the following factors: type, size, shape and hardness.

1. Media size
The component finish is subject to the size of media chosen. A larger media will generate higher energy; hence it will cut and finish faster with higher wear rates. This is also recommended for processing larger parts.

A smaller media can hold more water and compound resulting in less part-on-part damage. Also, a smaller media has a gentler impact on part, which results in longer processing times, better finishes and less media wear.

Generally, media size has to be of a different size to the part to allow complete separation at the end of the finishing process. If media is larger than parts, then an inverse separation system can be used. For ferrous components, magnetic separation is also available.

2. Media shape
When choosing the shape of the media it is important to consider the geometry of the part – hence any lodgement of media can be avoided and the part finish will be consistent.

A flat sided media, such as triangles, tri-stars, wedges and the end side of cones, can generate longer surface contact time on edges for deburring and radiusing. However, round shaped media, such as balls, cylinders and cones generate a single point contact concentrating energy in one small point, therefore producing more work in that area.

For components which have corners, holes and slots both Tri-Star media and wedge media are recommended, minimising the possibility of media lodgement. For surface improvement of hard to reach areas, an ellipse or cylinder shape can be considered.

3. Media type
Choosing the type of media will have a significant impact on how successful your mass finishing process is. The media transmits the energy generated by the equipment to the parts being processed and are capable of heavy burr removal, edge radiusing to smooth and bright surfaces.

Ceramic media is recommended for removing burrs, edge radiusing, burnishing and to quickly remove polishing lines on components made from harder materials. Faster cut medias are designed to be softer, thus allowing the cutting elements to be exposed. Polishing medias are harder (which contain no abrasives) and are used for burnishing. In general, the slower the cut, the harder the media.

Plastic media is lightweight and is manufactured out of soft bonding agents, which allows it to remove burrs without rolling the burr onto the part. Furthermore, we recommend using this media to achieve a very smooth surface finish, or a bright or matte finish on components made from softer materials.

Agro Media can be used for surface brightening or final finish refinement. The Pre-treated media is recommended for achieving a high lustre or mirror finish on components.

Applications for Stainless Steel media include burnishing, cleaning, improving compressive strength and light deburring.

4. Media hardness
To avoid damaging the component, the final aspect you’ll need to consider is the part material and the hardness of the media. This is important as having the wrong level of hardness will impact the result, for example ceramics are harder than plastic and may cause damage to soft materials.

How can I select the right compound and dose it correctly?

Compounds are integral to the success of any mass finishing process. They have many functions such as suspending the dirt, oils and media residues and flushing them from the system, as well as keeping the components and media clean, which brings stability to the process.

Compounds can be in liquid form, powders or pastes and like media, these can be abrasive or non-abrasive. When choosing a compound there are three considerations:

  1. Process requirements – Such as parts that need a compound with corrosion inhibitor or if any flat parts require a separating compound to stop them sticking to each other in the process.
  2. Finish requirement – From removing heat treatment, descaling, cleaning to brightening, polishing, burnishing and more.
  3. Component material – Considering the required specially formulated compounds for both ferrous and non-ferrous parts.

Depending on the finishing machine used, we recommend dosing the compound through either a dosing unit, automated dosing controls or a compound mixing tank. As a general rule, we recommend dosing in the finishing machine 1L of compound per hour along with 1L of water per minute.

This needs to be increased if parts are dirtier and oilier. To find out more about choosing the right consumables, why not download our brochure?

How can I determine the right media and compound mix?

To obtain your desired finishing results, it’s important to consider the type of compound used and the amount used in the finishing process. However selecting the correct media and compound requires experience with mass finishing processes, consumables and finishing machines.

Your compound supplier should be able to recommend the right mix or it can be determined through process trials. This will enable you to test, improve and ascertain the finishing process parameters and establish a repeatable solution.

Find your required media and compound

From media size, type, shape and hardness to understanding how to correctly dose your mix, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the right consumable for your mass finishing process. Carrying out trials with the help of an expert will help you achieve optimum, repeatable and cost effective finishing results and ensure you’re using the right consumable for your mass finishing process.

To find out further information or to organise your free processing trial, please fill in our form and an ActOn engineer will be in touch to recommend the best consumable for your part.

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