Tumble Finishing Process

Tumble FinishingRP Abrasives is proud to serve companies around the country as a leader in finishing technology. Our advanced finishing processes are highly effective in achieving preferred surfaces on metal and plastic parts. Today we’re taking a closer look at the 3 types of tumble finishing, how they differ, and the benefits of each.

What is Tumble Finishing?

Tumble finishing is the process of polishing multiple small, rough, plastic or metal parts at the same time. Tumble finishing is also frequently referred to as “mass tumbling” since it is used for large batches of parts rather than single pieces. Mass tumbling requires the use of multiple machines and the whole process can range in time from just a few minutes to several hours. The amount of time required depends on the specifications of the finished part. Tumble finishing is a service recommended when a manufacturer wishes to achieve uniform smoothness for components of a product they wish to mass produce. Depending on the type of part or component, different types of tumble finishing will be recommended.

High Energy Tumbling

The term “high energy tumbling” refers to the process where centrifugal force is used to polish a batch of parts. This tumbling process is the fastest, so it is preferred for applications which require fast turn-around time. High energy tumbling is ideal for parts made from materials like aluminum, titanium, steel and stainless steel. The process of high energy tumbling uses a high energy tumble finish machine which consists of sealed barrels which are spun on a carousel to create a centrifugal force. Before the machine is turned on and the spinning begins, each barrel is filled with media, water, and surfactant, then the parts to be finished are added. The spinning motion of the carousel creates a centrifugal effect by spinning in one direction while pushing the barrels in the other. High energy tumble finish machines are made in multiple sizes, depending on the number and size of parts. The smallest size is a 12 liter machine, but 80 liter, 120 liter, and 160 liter machines allow for a wide range of batch sizes.

Vibratory Tumbling

Vibratory tumbling is another process used for tumbling metal and plastic parts. Much like high energy tumbling, vibratory tumbling combines the power of water and abrasive medias to finish batches of parts. Vibratory tumbling is one of the oldest methods for finishing, and has been used since the 1940’s! Due to its effectiveness and ability to produce extremely smooth results while still being safe for even the most fragile parts, vibratory tumbling is still one of the most preferred finishing methods. Vibratory tumbling requires a machine called a vibratory tumbler which applies fast vibration to components submerged in water and an abrasive media. Just like high energy tumbling, there are multiple sizes of vibratory tumblers available to accommodate batches of different sizes.

If you have additional questions about the tumble finishing process, or which type of tumble finishing will be best for your part or product component, contact us today!