Whether it be a process for polishing, surface cut down, grinding, deburring, cosmetic finishing, or just cleaning, an appropriate media is available. Choosing the media can seem daunting at first, with over 1700 various media and compounds available. Therefore, sample trials are of significant importance. Here are three considerations to think about when choosing the right media:
- Component material
- Processing time and Component throughput
Your component's material, its surface hardness and your desired finish will all dictate the choice of media. For example, a component with a softer substrate material requires a more delicate approach than a harder material.
For softer component materials, generally, less abrasive and less mechanical pressure will be required. For example, too much mechanical pressure on an aluminum surface is likely to adversely mark the surface. In this case, a plastic, lightweight media would be most suitable.
For harder component materials more pressure can be applied, as harder surfaces require more input to achieve your goals. Both plastic and ceramic media can apply additional pressure to harder substrates, by increasing the amplitude and movement within your vibratory machine, choosing a deeper bowl or trough, or a combination of both.
Processing time and component throughput
Your processing time is very dependent on the starting condition of the surface of your component and your desired surface finish. Ultimately, it is the balance between cost and process that makes the viability. However, until a process trial has been conducted and recorded, the magnitude of economic benefits for your application cannot be elaborated on. All these benefits are subject to your understanding of the process and time.
The component throughput is dependent on the following elements:
- media type
- media size
- media shape
- component material
- starting condition
- desired surface finish
These considerations dictate the component throughput and component piece rate. However, economics drive every project and trials will dictate the throughput and viability.
There are many medias on the market, at all sorts of price levels. Some suppliers are just purveyors of media, while others are manufacturers and distributors.
It is easy to purchase the least expensive media, which will generally do the job but the performance is, for the most part, exceptionally compromised.
As a rule of thumb, purveyors of media and compounds provide a very narrow range of options and sizes, a minimal number of shapes, made of less desirable constituent materials. The price is reflected in these narrow choices and less desirable mix of ingredients. Only manufacturers who are dedicated to surface technology, with worldwide research, development and manufacturing facilities can offer this difference.
Quality justifiably costs a little more, but the broader customer gains in terms of productivity and superior results, are of much higher value in the long run.