Beginners Guide to Mass Finishing

January 20, 2021

If you’re unfamiliar with mass finishing, now is the best time to learn. The process can take manufactured products to the next level of quality, reliability and appearance. Whether you’re a business owner or engineer, you understand how crucial it is to supply your clients with polished, durable goods. An excellent mass finishing machine can do exactly that.

Learn more about mass finishing and the elements involved in this skilled process by reading our informative guide.

All of the Ins and Outs of Mass Finishing

Finishing is one of the most important aspects of any production process for manufactured parts. It primarily involves cleaning and smoothing an object’s surface to remove any imperfections, like sharp edges. However, it also includes a range of techniques related to burnishing, inhibiting rust, drying and more.

Without refining, the components would not fit together well or accept aesthetic and functional treatments like paints and coatings. In industries where precision is of the utmost importance — such as aerospace engineering and medical device manufacturing — properly finished parts are a must-have.

What Is Mass Finishing?

Mass finishing exists for the same reasons individual parts finishing does, and it encompasses many of the same techniques. As the name implies, it operates on a larger scale by processing high volumes of manufactured parts at once. The standard elements of any mass finishing process include compounds and media. Media consists of materials that act as abrasives, such as:

These materials remove burrs and refine surfaces by spinning around in a chamber along with the parts. They also prevent the components from contacting each other, which eliminates the chance of scratches and other damages.

Compounds can come in liquid or powder form. They perform numerous functions, such as removing rust and cleaning or descaling the workpieces. Using compounds that combine multiple roles can save you the time and money involved in using several different pieces of equipment.

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Types of Mass Finishing

Two main types of mass finishing exist. The one you use for your workpieces depends on the effects you’re aiming to achieve regarding surface refinement. Your choice may also be influenced by which media type is best for the job and how efficient you want the process to be. The two standard techniques are:

  • Vibratory: Vibratory mass finishing systems come in a few different configurations, including round bowl vibratory machines and continuous or thru-feed-style deburring machines. The parts are placed into a vibrating bowl filled with media — which may be steel, plastic or other materials — that wear away rough edges. Thru-feed-style machines are specifically suited for high-volume applications, able to process parts continually and handle up to 10,000 workpieces per hour.
  • Centrifugal: Centrifugal finishing is also known as tumble or barrel finishing. Centrifugal machines lend themselves well to efficiency and automation. They operate at speeds over 300 revolutions per minute, with the bonus of no part-on-part contact. These machines achieve this by generating centrifugal force, which keeps the parts at the barrel’s periphery.

The Process of Mass Finishing

How does mass finishing work? Although the process specifics depend on the type of finishing performed on the part — along with the machinery employed — there is a general methodology. It includes a few fundamental steps, which you may add to or subtract, based on your needs:

  1. Cleaning: Preparing the surface of your workpieces means removing all dirt, dust and other debris that could impede the mass finishing process. Some common residues that may be cleaned off during this step include die lubes and particulate matter.
  2. Deburring: This stage is where the abrasive media comes in. The materials grind away sharp edges, machine lines and other unwanted elements to produce a smooth, uniform appearance.
  3. Inhibiting: Few people want manufactured parts with rust, oxidation or other forms of corrosion present on them. That’s why an inhibitor is applied to protect the surface of your components. This step is incredibly time-sensitive, which is why some business owners enlist skilled help instead of attempting it themselves.
  4. Polishing: Dry media like nutshells are ideal for polishing, giving your parts the bright shine you desire. Some types come pretreated with polishing additives to make the process more efficient.
  5. Drying: Many types of mass finishing include wet processes, which require you to dry your components thoroughly afterward. Doing this reduces the chances of corrosion and ensures your inhibitor works effectively.


Benefits of Mass Finishing

You can expect to reap many advantages from finishing your manufactured components. The perks become even more apparent when you use the ideal finishing equipment to complete the procedure. Long-lasting and efficient machinery will give you parts of the same quality. Here are just a few advantages you can expect:

  • Client satisfaction: Your clients want high-quality work, but that is near impossible to achieve without finishing. Instead of a polished item, they’d get one that’s still rough around the edges, with peeling or flaking paint. Adequately treating your workpieces before assembling or painting them ensures a uniform look and a durable, safe-to-use product. Your customers will appreciate your care and eye for detail.
  • Part uniformity: Mass finishing systems output a consistency level that’s hard to achieve when servicing individual components. If you’re a jewelry maker and need to polish many small parts, you won’t obtain the same finishing level with all of them if you do them one by one. Putting them in a mass finishing machine, however, exposes them to the same type of media all at once for uniform refinement.
  • Time and money savings: Mass finishing your parts saves you lots of time you would’ve otherwise spent refining them individually. It’s faster, easier and more cost-efficient because of the lowered labor costs and shorter cycle times. Automated finishing can make loading and unloading simple, which frees up your employees for more crucial tasks.

Order Your Mass Finishing Machine From Advanced Deburring & Finishing

If you’re interested in creating excellent products and upholding unmatched operational efficiency, Advanced Deburring & Finishing can help. Since our inception in 1986, we’ve been developing reliable, safe machinery for surface finishing and cleaning processes within numerous industries. From automotive to general manufacturing applications, we have the experience, and we know what it takes to create top-class machines.

We Sell the System — any equipment or component you need, we can supply. Whether you’re seeking the ideal machinery or already have a system in mind, our skilled professionals have all the right knowledge. Contact us today to receive a quote or get more information about how we can help you find the best mass finishing equipment for your needs.

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