One compelling reason to consider mass finishing is your lungs.
Most of us make jewelry that needs some smoothing and polishing.
When doing it manually standing over the buff, you are ingesting
massive amounts of tiny buffing particles that settle in your lungs.
Carried with that are tiny bits of precious metals that can poison
you. Even if you wear a dust mask like the wood workers use, you are
getting this stuff in your lungs. If you have a perpetual hacking
cough or trouble breathing, you know this. If you really like the
filth of buffing compound on your hands, face and clothes, at least
wear a respirator to protect your lungs. Read the MSDS for your
buffing compounds. I know of at least one jeweler that died from
precious metal poisoning.
Mass finishing techniques greatly reduce the contaminants in your
air. Most of the processes are wet, and all are contained in a
device. You can wear rubber gloves to keep the process liquids from
Mass finishing has another advantage - it removes very little metal,
about 0.25% by weight. Conventional buffing removes from 3% to 7% of
the metal. That's a lot to throw away or breathe. Not green.
Mass finishing has come a long way. You have many choices of media
and machines to smooth your pieces. You have at least four choices on
how to burnish. Mass finishing is a sophisticated answer to getting
quality work out the door. It is not a short cut. It is how nearly
all jewelers finish work in Europe. It is how all commercial jewelry
manufacturers in the US finish goods. It is a healthy choice.
End of sermon.