Media, also called chips or stones, refers to a range of abrasive preforms that are used in tandem with industrial finishing equipment to remove unwanted matter from a surface or create a polished finish on parts and components. The preforms can be used in vibratory finishers, tumblers, centrifugal machines, disk machines, and barrel finishers.
Finishing media is carefully selected based on its composition, shape, size, and performance to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of the finishing process. Depending on your finishing needs, different types of industrial finishing media are used to achieve different results. The right media can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your mass finishing process, reducing production time and costs.
Ceramic media is the most common media in the industry. It has a higher density than plastic and can easily grind and polish harder materials like high-temperature alloys and steel. It is also used for general-purpose polishing and is often used with plastic, steel, stainless, and aluminum parts. Extrusion of clay through a die is the common manufacturing method. The length of extruded clay is then cut to the desired length, resulting in stars, cylinders and triangles of specific formats.
Ceramic media has superior cutting ability, efficiently removing burrs and imperfections, resulting in a smooth and clean surface. Ceramic media also offers excellent wear resistance, allowing for longer usage and reduced replacement frequency. This durability ensures consistent performance and cost-effectiveness.
Porcelain media is a highly effective and heavy media used in the final steps of the finishing process, more specifically for polishing and burnishing applications. It possesses unique properties that make it ideal for providing a polished finish and creating an edge radius on parts. Porcelain media contains no abrasive compounds and does not remove material from the parts, ensuring the integrity of the finished product.
Porcelain media’s high durability allows for extended usage, outlasting other types of media and reducing the need for frequent replacements. The gentle action of porcelain media ensures that parts are polished without any material removal, preserving their original dimensions and surface quality.
Plastic media is lighter than ceramic, making it particularly suitable for fragile parts or made of more fragile materials. Very large formats are particularly effective for finishing very heavy pieces that could fracture the ceramic. Plastic media shines when cleaning softer, non-ferrous metals like aluminum, zinc, and brass and is a good option for pre-painted or pre-plate polishing. Plastic media is used commonly for finishing die-cast work pieces.
Plastic media offers a range of benefits. One of its key advantages is its lighter weight compared to ceramic or porcelain media. This makes it particularly well-suited for finishing softer metals like aluminum or acrylics, where a delicate touch is required. Its fast and heavy cutting capability ensures efficient material removal while maintaining control over the surface finish. Plastic media is effective when used with a tumbling soap.
Steel media is very popular for burnishing and polishing and is made of hardened carbon and stainless steel. It can be used on aluminum or brass components and last for a long time with proper maintenance.
Carbon steel or stainless steel media have the advantage of usually having a much higher density than that of plastic or ceramic media. They can also come in very small sizes.
For parts requiring pressure deburring and ball polishing, steel media are very effective. However, steel media requires specific equipment for processing due to its high bulk density.
Synthetic urea media is the lightest media available. Synthetic media is a very effective media used at various stages of the finishing process, particularly for deburring and polishing applications and typically used for softer metals such as aluminum, brass and zinc. Its properties make it an ideal choice for small precision applications. Synthetic media is water-based, making it cost-effective and easily treated for removal in wastewater systems.
Synthetic media produce a shinier finish on stainless steel and other metals that will not be plated and very thin or delicate parts are processed more gently with small synthetic medias. The most commonly used abrasives are silica, zircon, and variations of aluminum oxides. They will reduce distortion, impact and burring while producing excellent finishes before plating or painting.
Organic media is a very lightweight media popular for drying parts after vibratory processing. Common organic medias are walnut shells and crushed corn cobs.
Corn cob media is commonly utilized in the final stage of a tumbling process for dry finishing. While corn cob is typically used for acrylics, aluminum, and precious metals like gold and silver, it can also be applied in many other processes. Corn cob media is lightweight, making it ideal for gently providing a smooth and lustrous finishing shine to parts without causing excessive wear or damage. It is biodegradable, non-toxic and environmentally friendly. Its natural absorbent properties help in absorbing excess moisture and dirt during the finishing process without affecting the surface of the part.
Black Walnut shell abrasive is used to polish soft metals, fiberglass, wood, plastics and stone. It works as a deburring and deflashing product for moldings, castings, and electrical parts. It is an efficient soft abrasive when used to tumble and polish gun castings, jewelry, and metal parts due to its resistance to breakdown. Its gentle cutting action effectively removes imperfections and leaves a lustrous finish, making it ideal for delicate or intricate parts.
The wood media is unique and exclusively used for dry finishing operations. Pegs and cubes are the most popular. Used in combination with finishing creams, the hardwood tumbling media is ideal for plastic parts. It is loaded or treated with a finishing cream depending on the stage of the process being performed. Once a batch of wood media is treated with a cream, it is only used with that cream.
XM media is a versatile and effective media primarily used for burnishing applications and as a “coloring abrasive”. XM media is an excellent alternative to steel media applications.
XM media’s robust and hard crystalline structure makes it particularly effective in achieving a “high color” burnish on hard ferrous metals, brass, and aluminum. It provides excellent results for adding a vibrant and polished appearance to your parts. It also performs well in light deburring applications and acts as a driving force for loose abrasives, facilitating efficient cutting and coloring of parts. It possesses hardness, toughness, and an extremely fine crystalline structure, making it suitable for various ferrous metals, brass, and aluminum.