Industry News

A Guide to Buffing Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is used across various industries due to its well-known durable, resistant, and aesthetically pleasing properties. While it’s a very long-lasting metal, stainless steel isn’t completely impenetrable and requires some maintenance to ensure the best quality over the long term. Buffing stainless steel is a common finishing process that can give a part its final appearance, removing any unsightly or problematic dents, cracks, or burrs for a perfectly smooth finish. The final appearance of stainless steel can be customized in a range of finishes depending on the requirements, from bright to dull or mirrored to brushed.

Buffing vs Polishing: What’s the Difference?

Though buffing and polishing often complement each other, the two are very different techniques that make up part of the whole finishing process. Where polishing uses abrasives to remove imperfections from a part’s surface, buffing involves a gentler media that repeatedly brush over the surface, leading to the desired finish.

Why is Buffing Stainless Steel Important?

Working with stainless steel that is dull, scratched, cracked, or burred can lead to an abundance of issues when it comes to performance. For example, in the medical industry, if debris and bacteria get caught in unwanted crevices in surgical tools, that equipment will ultimately end up being unsafe for use. As mentioned, though stainless steel is a superior metal, with qualities such as corrosion, chemical and heat resistance, over time some upkeep is required.

Buffing stainless steel allows you to smooth out any flaws like small, shallow cracks, scratches, or burrs that prevent debris from collecting. By slowly, gently smoothing these imperfections, the true quality of the stainless steel is restored to its original condition. Buffing can be a time-consuming process, but in order to create or repair the surface of your application — buffing stainless steel after polishing is the recommended method.

Common Stainless Steel Buffing Methods

When a customer requests a buffed finish, more often than not they are referring to a bright or mirror surface finish, without any noticeable marks or scratches. This can be achieved in a few different ways, depending on the application, including:

  • Vibratory tumbling
  • Cotton wheel buffing (using a specific compound)
  • Mass finishing using various media

Sometimes, it is a combination of the above methods that results in optimal quality surface finish for an application. Over many years of experience, RP Abrasives has developed these processes to achieve the customer’s desired or required finish.

Industries Utilizing Stainless Steel Buffing

There is a wide range of industries that utilize a buffed finish for stainless steel applications, particularly those where it’s essential for a finished part to look clean and free of imperfections. A few common examples of these industries include:

Contact RP Abrasives

RP Abrasives offers advanced metal finishing services, including buffing and polishing. Whether you’re in the market for a single part or thousands of them, we work to ensure that you get the best possible results for your finished application. To inquire about polishing or buffing stainless steel, please request a quote from RP Abrasives today!