The selection of tumbling media for a particular application depends not only on the type of material/metal being tumbled but also on the finish required for the next step(s) in the processing of the part. While less aggressive medias such as Plastic Media or Synthetic Media are typically used with softer metals like aluminum, the results above show a comparison of a Plastic Media versus a more aggressive Ceramic Media.
The picture shows the machined part on the far left followed by a part tumbled with a general purpose Plastic Triangle (middle) with a different part tumbled with a Ceramic Triangle on the far right. Both tumbled parts were vibratory tumbled for 1 hour with the same Kramco 1030 mild acid compound.
The machined part shows heavy burrs and machining marks on the surface. Both media types removed the machine marks and the burrs on the edges. The differences show up when looking more closely at the ‘roughness’ of the surface finish and the amount of edge rounding after the 1 hour cycle time.
The Plastic Media tumbled part shows slight edge rounding and a matte but uniform surface finish. This is a good finish for anodizing the aluminum part to a matte, smooth finish. The Ceramic Media tumbled part has noticeably more edge rounding and a more tumbled, ‘rough-looking’ surface finish. This finish is better for accepting paint or powder coating.