This guide is the layman’s guide for vibratory finishing.
Vibratory finishing is one of the popular mass finishing techniques employed by most of the manufacturers.
1. Vibratory Finishing Process
The entire process happens inside the vibratory finishing machine.
This machine consists of a large container that will hold the parts for finishing and the finishing media.
This large container is connected to an unbalanced motor and is supported by a set of springs.
So, the whole container is made to vibrate, which in turn makes the abrasive finishing media rub on the metal parts to get the desired finish level.
This process will continue until the desired finish level is achieved.
The time duration of the process varies for different material type and finish quality.
If you use the finishing abrasive media alone for finishing, then it is called dry polishing.
If you add water or any other finishing compound solution along with it, then it is called wet polishing.
2. Advantages of Vibratory Finishing
Let us have a look at the various advantages of using a vibratory tumbling process for mass finishing.
2.1 For Cleaning the Part Surface
All parts will have machined marks after manufacturing.
So, you need to remove it after the manufacturing process.
Vibratory tumbling helps to remove machined marks from the part surface.
2.2 To Remove Burrs
Burrs, in part, can cause safety and reliability issues.
So, you need to deburr the parts.
2.3 To Get the Desired Finish
Finish requirement varies with parts.
Some part demands a shiny gloss finish whereas other demands for a matte finish.
You can get the desired level of finish using a vibratory machine.
2.4 Remove Rust and Oxidised Layers
There may be a layer of oxide on the surface of the metal part.
So, you need to remove it altogether.
Sometimes, it may cause rusting of the surface.
The vibratory process helps to remove the oxide layer from the surface with the help of the abrasive media.
2.5 To Prepare Surface for Coating
Certain parts need to be powder coated or painted to get the final finished part.
If you paint the part directly after manufacturing, then the paint may not be uniform across its surface.
Sometimes, it may come off.
So, you need to prepare the part surface for coating by polishing it.
You can use the vibratory tumbling process to prepare the material surface for painting/coating.
2.6 To Increase Lifespan and Durability
Any irregularities in the part surface will have an impact on the lifespan of the part.
So, you need to remove such imperfections from the part surface.
It helps to improve the durability of the part.
2.7 Avoid part to part Collision
All the parts inside the vibratory machine will have tumbling media in between.
Thus, the Vibratory polishing protects the part from part to part collision.
2.8 Better Tumbling Performance
In this process, the tumbling media is always in contact with the parts.
The vibratory motion of the container ensures the continuous application of abrasive media on the part surface.
So, tumbling performance is better.
2.9 For Edge Rounding
The unnecessary sharp edges and corners around the part can prove to be dangerous for the user.
So, you should remove it before assembling the final product.
You can do the edge rounding of parts with the help of a vibratory polishing machine.
3. Vibratory Finishing Machines
Inovatec offers various varieties of Vibratory tumbling machines.
So, you can invest in any of these models based on your finishing and quantity requirements.
3.1 Vibratory Finishing Tumbler and Rock Tumbler
You can use it for cleaning, deburring, and polishing of parts in small quantity.
3.2 Aluminum Wheel Polishing Machine
Aluminum wheel polishing machines come with two powerful high-speed motors.
It can help you to achieve the best quality surface finishing through its low amplitude vibration feature.
3.3 Vibratory Tumbling Machine
They come in different container capacities.
So, you can select any of these according to your part quantity size.
3.4 Spiral Tube Vibratory Finishing Machine
Here, the parts are polished in a rhythmic fashion.
There will be a separate inlet valve and an outlet valve for the parts.
3.5 VB (B) Vibratory Finisher
If you are planning to finish big size parts, then you can go with the VB (B) vibratory finisher from Inovatec.
The wide chamber wall of the vibratory container allows you to accommodate large size parts.
3.6 VB (A) Vibratory Polishing Machine
VB (A) vibratory polishing machine is best suited for parts that need a mirror-like shine.
Excellent performance in finishing is achieved with the help of the toroidal movement of the specially designed round wall container.
3.7 Industrial Vibratory Tumbler VBS(A)
Industrial vibratory tumbler VBS(A) comes in different capacities.
It comes with a curved bowl container that helps to apply more pressure on the parts with the abrasive media.
Thus, you can get more finished parts in less time.
3.8 Vibratory Deburring Machine VBS(B)
You can use the Vibratory deburring machine VBS(B) from Inovatec for deburring, edge breaking, and edge rounding of pats.
You can easily separate the parts from the finishing media using the separation screen and unload flap.
4. Vibratory Finishing Media
Vibratory finishing media are substances that are added along with the parts to be polished inside the vibratory tumbling machine.
These media rub against the metal surface parts inside the finishing machine.
You need to ensure that you select the right type of vibratory tumbling media for each type of material.
Inovatec offers four types of finishing media for vibratory tumbling.
4.1 Plastic Media
Plastic media is a mixture of polyester resins with abrasives.
They are best suited for vibratory polishing of soft metals like aluminum, brass and zinc.
They have got good lifespan.
4.2 Steel Media
The longer lifespan makes steel media popular among many consumers.
You can use it for many years as there are no wear and tear.
It is made up of stainless steel and carbon steel in hardened form.
You can use it in the finishing machines for deburring and polishing other steel parts.
If you use this media for wet polishing, then you need to ensure that the media is dried correctly before storing.
4.3 Ceramic Media
Ceramic media is one of the most popular finishing media in the vibratory tumbling process.
It is recommended for cleaning, deburring, and finishing of hard metals like Titanium.
The high density feature of the ceramic media makes it an excellent choice for finishing strong metal parts.
The main component of this media is aluminum oxide.
4.4 Special Tumbling Media
Special tumbling media are media which doesn’t fall into the above three categories.
They are cheaper. But, the lifespan is less since it is organic.
They are usually used in the final stage of finishing for polishing the parts to get an excellent glossy finish.
5. Importance of Tumbling Media Shape and Size
If you are looking for a media shape that provides better cleaning and finishing, then you should go for triangle and tristar shapes.
They are perfect for chipping and can clean even complex parts.
But, they may have lodging issues.
The life of these media shape is less as they are more prone to wear and tear due to their structure.
If you are looking for a media with a non-lodging feature, then shapes like a sphere or cylindrical are good.
Now, let us see the impact of media size on vibratory cleaning and finishing.
You can use small size media to get a smooth and beautiful finish.
A large size media won’t be able to make the same finish.
But, a large size media will help you to bring down the processing time.
Small finishing media will take more time.
6. Importance of Vibratory Finishing Compounds
Vibratory finishing compounds are liquids that are added along with the finishing media for cleaning and polishing inside a vibratory tumbling machine.
Water is the most commonly used finishing compounds.
You must always ensure that you check the pH level of the water before adding it.
Otherwise, it can corrode the parts.
The pH level requirement varies for each part.
You can even use tap water with some parts.
There are other special finishing compound liquids also.
These are used to give a better shine to the parts.
7. Vibratory Finishing Vs Barrel Finishing
Let us have a look at the various difference between the two popular mass finishing techniques, vibratory and barrel finishing.
A vibratory cleaning and finishing machine will be costlier than a similar barrel finishing machine.
Barrel systems have less impact on the finishing abrasive media.
So, life will be more for the media. Thus, you can save on the finishing media cost.
7.2 Surface Finish
Vibratory tumbling can help to get a smoother surface without causing much wear and tear of the parts when compared to the barrel finishing process.
7.3 Processing Time
The processing time is more for a Barrel finishing machine.
7.4 Equipment Complexity
Barrel finishing machines are more complex than the vibratory ones.
7.5 Surface Indentation Risk
When you use a Barrel finishing machine, the parts will also tumble against each other.
So, there is the surface indentation risk in the barrel finishing process.
Vibratory finishing uses gentle rubbing procedure with the finishing media.
So, the surface indentation risk is eliminated.
8. Tips To Improve Vibratory Finishing Process Efficiency
I will share some useful tips to improve the efficiency of the vibratory polishing process.
8.1 Speed Control
Some machines will allow you to control the speed.
For such machines, there will be a recommended speed of operation mentioned in the manual.
You can use this speed or a value slightly above this.
I recommend not to go for a lower speed as it may sink your parts to the bottom of the machine.
8.2 The Load Factor
All vibratory finishing machines are designed for specific loads.
For best efficiency, you can operate these machines in a range of 80 to 90 per cent load.
Operating the machines above the rated load capacity or less than 50 per cent of the capacity is not recommended.
8.3 Amount of Water during Wet Polishing
Two types of activities will be happening inside the finishing machine- cutting and polishing actions.
If you want cutting action, then don’t pour too much water during the wet polishing process.
It will hamper the cutting action of the finishing media.
You can add more water to help the finishing media to make parts shiny and glossy.
The amount of water lesser will be the abrasive action.
8.4 Amplitude and Frequency Factor
If you want to increase the cutting rate, then you should increase the amplitude of the machine.
If you are dealing with a fragile part, that requires slow finishing, then you must run the machine at lower amplitudes.
So, go for low amplitudes to get the best surface finish.
8.5 Part to Finishing Media Ratio
For best polishing results, it is always good to maintain a finishing media to the part ratio of 3:1 or higher.
If the tumbling media is less, then you may end up damaging the parts due to part to the part collision.
Now, you know everything about vibratory cleaning and finishing process.
So, consider using any of these vibratory machines in your manufacturing unit rather than going for the age old manual finishing process.
You can get one of the best vibratory finishing machine, media, and finishing compounds from Inovatec.