Tumble Finishing Process

What is Tumble Finishing?

Tumble FinishingRP Abrasives is proud to serve companies around the country as a leader in finishing technology. Our advanced finishing processes effectively achieve preferred surfaces on metal and plastic parts.

Tumble finishing is the process of polishing multiple small, rough, plastic, or metal parts simultaneously. 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 multiple machines, and the whole process can range 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. Different types of tumble finishing will be recommended depending on the type of part or component.

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 that 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 consisting of sealed barrels 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 the 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 is another process used for tumbling metal and plastic parts. Much like high-energy tumbling, vibratory tumbling combines the power of water and abrasive media to finish batches of parts. Vibratory tumbling is one of the oldest methods for finishing and has been used since the 1940s! 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 vibratory tumbler that applies fast vibration to underwater components and an abrasive media. Like high-energy tumbling, multiple vibratory tumblers can accommodate batches of different sizes.

Contact RP Abrasives for Your Finishing Needs

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!