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"How To" Tips for Optimum Blasting and Tumbling Results

, 11·11·09

Here are some great ways to get great results when using our products and equipment, plus ways to minimize or eliminate problems that may develop, and save some time along the way.

Along with these suggestions you may want a little bit more explanation or require some clarification. In either case, just give us a call and we'll be glad to provide you with more information.

How to Decide How Close to Work

When it comes to blasting, getting closer to the surface of the parts you're finishing doesn't make for a better result. And it wastes media. That's because working too close reduces the size of the blast pattern, increasing the cycle time, and can pulverize the media, reducing its life. The idea is to strike the optimum balance between the rate of wear on your media, and the rate at which you strip your surface area. Rule of thumb for suction blasting systems is to be six to eight inches from your parts. When using a direct pressure blasting system, you should be ten to fourteen inches away. Also keep in mind that the closer you get to thin parts, the greater the danger of having them warp on you, no matter what blasting media you are using. Besides staying at a safe distance, you can avoid warping by blasting both sides of your parts.

How to Work the Optimum Performance Angle

Many people believe that holding their blast gun at a 90º angle to their work surface will optimize the abrasive stripping or etching process. However, this actually slows down the blasting process and pulverizes the media faster. Your gun should be held at a 30-45º angle to your surface, allowing your abrasive to scrub the surface with the least wear. This is especially true when you're looking to create a surface for painting or coating of any kind. When you blast straight on, your media bounces off and your surface may wind up smoother than you want it to be. By working at an angle, you're creating an anchor profile. You are getting under the surface and creating a slight tooth for optimum adherence of your finishing coat.

How to Keep Your Media from Wearing Out Too Fast

The secret to optimizing the useful life of your media, while still optimizing your tumbling results, is to use the right ratio of media to parts. Using too much media won't get the job done any faster, and will wear out your media that much sooner. Using too little media will damage your parts. A barrel tumbler should be run 50% full and a vibratory finisher should be run 80-90% full for optimum cutting and a good finish. Adding solution will also soften the action by reducing the vibrating motion. Bottom line for both barrel tumbling and vibratory finishing is the fact that there are two main variables that determine the optimum tumbling process. One is the type of part you are tumbling and what you are looking to accomplish. The other is your selection of media to get the job done. Give me a call and based on the parts and media you're working with we can discuss the best means of accomplishing your desired result, while maximizing your media life.

How to Achieve the Optimum Surface Finish

When your finishing method is vibratory or barrel tumbling, achieving the optimum surface finish for your parts depends on the compound you use, as much as it does on your tumbling media. In fact, balancing the combination of media and compound makes all the difference. Using the proper compound in the right ratio will result in bright, clean parts and eliminate metal discoloration or damage to the parts. Your selection of compound depends on the composition of your parts and the requirements of your process - metal vs. plastic, ferrous vs. non-ferrous, deburring vs. polishing. Also keep in mind that even though many vibratory tumbling applications do not employ a re-circulating system, achieving an optimal surface finish can depend on keeping the process clean by constantly 'flushing' media waste and soils from the tumbler.

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