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Tumbler for very fine finish


#1

Hi, I am Kondo, new member from Japan.

We run a small shop making Custom Name tags / Brand tag. I need to
polish those NAME TAG to a very fine mirror finish. mostly are round
disc or oval shape, flat, size around 10x10mm everytime I need to
polish around 100 - 200 tags.

Those tags is already polished (since it is punch cut from metal
sheet) but still have some scratch, and looks a bit dull.

I need a small volume Tumbler / polishing system to achieve mirror
finish.

Can anybody share their experience :

  • What is the type of Tumbler is needed ?
  • What kind of material solutions / dry media needed ?

Question :

I was quoted Raytech Vibratory Tumbler… which their smaller volume
is too big for me. If what I need is something that can vibrate…
why
can’t I use a strong “Ultrasonic cleaner” and use a polishing media
instead of water to vibrate ?

this way… I can buy a strong ultrasonic cleaner and use for both
purposes.

Thanks for any advice.
Regards.
Kondo


#2

Hi Kondo

My favorite small machine is my Gy-roc vibratory. I do all my
Argentium chain jewelry with it, stainless shot, very little
burnishing compound…use this, see the results, you’ll be searching
for all the silver in the vacinity just to see it shine. Silky
smooth, mirror perfect finish.

Just about any decent quality vibratory tumbler will do close to the
same, but I sure like the Gy-roc, and being built for stone
tumbling, built to run 24/7 for months and years, they last forever.
I have an “A” and a “B”, the “B” is the smaller, runs with 4lbs
shot. Depending on the size of your tags, you’ll be able to finish
about 6-8oz each load, taking 1-2 hrs. per load.

Feel free to call for any help, I’m always willing.

Charlie Wyckoff
541-273-1102
www.charlieschaincraft.com


#3

You will not find that flat items polish very well in mass finishing
machines. They tend to stick together due to capillary attraction
and will not get all surfaces finished to the same level.

James Binnion
@James_Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


360-756-6550


#4

Thanks for all input. noted about the problem with stick together due
to capillary attraction

You will not find that flat items polish very well in mass
finishing machines. They tend to stick together due to capillary
attraction and will not get all surfaces finished to the same
level. 

Any idea for the solutions?

  • maybe I can immerse in some kind of solutions which prevent those
    capillary attraction ? before putting into the tumbler?

  • or… any other way?

And… back to my first question

  • Why can’t use “powerfull ultrasonic cleaner” to do as “vibratory
    tumbler” for the job?

I have not bought both machine… so… can’t experiment… maybe
somebody have tried before?

Thanks.


#5

To break the suction during abrasive, cut down stages, add a small
amount of glass blasting beads to the tumbler, this will keep them
apart. They don’t all stick together during burnishing, and you can’t
use the beads, so you’ll have to fish the stuck together ones out and
toss them back in. To get a true mirror finish, you’ll have to finish
in a dry polishing media but be forewarned, unless you have a
centrifugal finisher, it’ll take forever. Most people end with a
steel shot burnish and then hand or machine polish if they need more.

Harry
www.harryhamilldesigns.com


#6
- maybe I can immerse in some kind of solutions which prevent
those capillary attraction ? before putting into the tumbler? -
or... any other way? 

Nope, this is probably one of the major drawbacks to mass finishing.

And... back to my first question - Why can't use "powerfull
ultrasonic cleaner" to do as "vibratory tumbler" for the job? 

Mass finishing is about fairly large scale movements of abrasives
against the work, this movement is applied by the difference in mass
between the part and the media causing a difference in velocity
between the media and part as they move about in the tumbler. The
ultrasonic cleaner will move both the media and the part at almost
the same rate so there is no difference in velocity between them so
no cutting action.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#7
To break the suction during abrasive, cut down stages, add a small
amount of glass blasting beads to the tumbler, this will keep them
apart. They don't all stick together during burnishing, and you
can't use the beads, so you'll have to fish the stuck together ones
out and toss them back in. 

Even with glass beads I have seen the capillary action cause flat
sheet to stick together enough to greatly limit the finishing
action.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#8

In the lens finishing industry binocs etc they have large slow
rotating tables with rubber edges all lenses are done wet with the
right abrasive / polishing grade.They lie on the table and rotate
with it turning every now and then with the deflectors ddmittedly it
takes days sometimes to get to the finish the optical industry want
but it is done en mass cancels out the time factor (like Helen
selling 1000 copper pieces compared to one silver?) if your pieces
are that flat You can also place divertors on the table to change
direction etc Its all common sense stuff any handyman can do it the
base can be same as facetting tables etc

Frank Thomson


#9

Thanks

I really appreciate your So… Harry… you suggest
"centrifugal" is better than Vibratory (for my purpose)?

Regards.


#10

Kondo,

I haven’t seen two parts of your question specifically addressed…

  1. An ultrasonic works (as I understand it) by using sound waves in
    a liquid medium to disturb the bond between the surface of the metal
    and the polishing compound or dirt laying on the surface. Without
    liquid, the sound won’t work to move solids like a tumbling medium.
    There is nothing in an ultrasonic that “moves” to agitate the liquid
    (all the agitation occurs due to the sound waves pulsing from the
    source).

  2. You can easily get a lovely true mirror finish on silver
    (including flat) that has been pre-polished (i.e., in a rotary with
    steel) by using dry “green buff” media in a vibratory tumbler. It can
    take up to 48 hours to get the finish (I usually find that 24 hours
    is fine for most things). For my dry media, i use an inexpensive
    Harbor Freight vibratory tumbler ($30 usd), but any basic
    non-flow-through vibratory tumbler will work for this purpose. The
    key with this medium is that it’s so lightweight that it will not
    work effectively alone. To make it work, add a bunch of wooden pegs
    (small pegs of wood in varying sizes and shapes) to help “push” the
    medium against the pieces. Run the tumbler with the dry medium and
    pegs for about an hour (until it feels warm to the touch) BEFORE you
    add your pieces for best effectiveness.

If you have a lot of flat pieces and you want to keep them from
sticking together, plan to “fixture” them by threading them onto some
type of jig to keep them slightly apart. For example, you can use
binding wire looped through the hole in each dog tags to keep them
about 1/4" or so apart. nylon cable ties or any type of slightly
stiff cord can work well for this. Honestly, though, if you add them
separately and in different parts of the tumbler, I don’t normally
have a problem with this - by pre-heating the buff it quickly coats
the surface with a light layer of compound and keeps them from
sticking together.

The only other thing you’ll need is a simple soap-and-water rinse
after removing from the green buff. It’s not a greasy compound, so no
ammonia or cutters like that are needed.

I hope this helps!
Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry


#11

Sorry folks, but whats with this obsession to make everything so
complicated? But then again, I don’t mind hearing and learning about
methods I haven’t tried.

We’re talking about final finishing, so lets leave any cutting media
and mention thereof out of the equation, and simply try to answer
the question, preferably by suggesting the method each is most
familiar with, and had the best results with. How to get a simple
final finish for silver, 10mm x 10mm, I’m assuming 20 or 18awg, name
tags.

A polishing compound run in a tumbler is an unnecessary extra step
IMO. Not that I know it all, but I do know how to get what you’re
asking Kondo.

As in my previous post, I recommend a small vibratory,
4lb…simply use mixed shape stainless shot. You’ll get minimal
sticking together issues, and a mirror bright finish to beat all.
Use a decent burnishing compound, to help suspend
contaminate/particulate, and don’t be afraid to rinse if needed…a
1-3 hr. run will produce an amazing finish, simple, with no extra
steps, no troublesome compounds to wash off.

I’ve tried many, many different methods, media(don’t care for
porcelain), solution compounds, times and weights, working with most
non-ferrous metals and this will be your easiest, most simple
solution, which if I read your post right, is what you’re after. I’m
also going to risk assuming you’d like suggestions that won’t break
the bank…this solution will cost @ $200-240 to get set up. You
can pay $100-200 for a good tumbler, then around $15 bucks a pound
for good mixed shape stainless steel shot.

From the size of the tags, you should be able to do around 100-150
tags, or 6-8ozt.

Good luck, sincerely, Charlie
Charlie Wyckoff
www.charlieschaincraft.com


#12

Thanks to Karen Goeller for those clear explanation. I will try this
method.

Again… this forum really helps me to find solutions. and Great
thanks for all who participate answering my questions.

Regards.
Kondo.


#13
Even with glass beads I have seen the capillary action cause flat
sheet to stick together enough to greatly limit the finishing
action. 

Wouldn’t the glass bead also defeat the purpose by scratching the
metal?

Noel


#14
I really appreciate your So... Harry.. you suggest
"centrifugal" is better than Vibratory (for my purpose)?" 

Probably not.

I used the 3 main types of mass finishing equipment for close to 20
years on all types of jewelry and metals and each has their
advantages and disadvantages. Although the equipment and batches I
was running was far larger than for most jewelers, the results would
be similar for smaller equipment. Keep in mind that all tumblers are
dumb machines and wear down corners, sharp edges and pointy parts at
a higher rate than the center of flat designs. They are best for
highly modeled, rounded shapes, worst for crisp flat objects like
your tags.

Rotary - the rolling barrel type tumbler.

Pros - These are quiet, easy and cheap to build and maintain and run
forever, easy to change the speed and the cutting action. The main
cutting action takes place as the media and pieces slide down the
face of rotating media. Can give a really nice finish, easiest on
sharp edges and best on center of flats.

Cons - Slowest of the 3 types and you can get more impinging if not
run correctly. (speed too high, too many parts, not enough water)

Vibratory - vibrating donut

Pros - Faster and better for fragile sculptural or heavy pieces than
a barrel. In a barrel, you can have problems with them beating each
other up. Pieces and media move in a toroidal ring around the bowl.
Can adjust the action from gentle to aggressive.

Cons - Noisy, you need a flow through system to keep the media clean
and to keep the parts cool. Because the motor is located below the
bowl, the parts and solution will heat up and can cause a slight
tarnishing to occur when burnishing. Sterling won’t come out bight
white, just a little off, we used to use a chiller to keep the
solution cool. Can be tough on motors too, we used to fry them
regularly.

Centrifugal disc finisher - bowl with a spinning disc in the bottom

Pros - Fast, very, very fast. Pieces and media move in a toroidal
ring around the bowl, sort of like a vibratory on steroids.

Cons - Sometimes too fast, let parts go 10 minutes too long and they
might be toast. Chews up media quickly and all that friction causes
the solution to heat up quickly, needs a large flow through system
to keep the solution clean and flush out the ground up media. The
most aggressive and will wear down corners the fastest compared to
the center of a flat piece. Expensive.

Depending on the amount of money you’re planning on spending on
machine, you could probably get sample parts run in several types
and compare. Rio might do that for example. Be aware though that
media and how they are run can have a significant effect on the
finish. Like most things, if the operator is knowledgeable, you’ll
get better parts.

If I had to choose a system for wet finishing, I’d go with a rotary
tumbler. They’re simple, cheap to run and you can buy a Topline
barrel (the best IMHO) and build a base for less than a hundred
bucks that will last longer than any on the market. Run your parts
overnight in abrasive, an hour in steel shot the next day and you’re
done. I’m not a fan of the Harbor freight Lortone clones or real
Lortones for that matter, the small barrels take too long, and the
motors and bushings wear out. Also, the larger the barrel diameter,
the shorter the run time you’ll need.

For dry finishing (polishing) centrifugal is the way to go, suspend
your parts in a whirling mass of polishing media, much faster than
trying to accomplish it in either of the other 2 machines but you
pay for that speed.

Raytech has an small magnetic pin tumbler with interchangeable bowls
for centrifugal wet and dry finishing that looks intriguing and
might be good for small runs. Looks good at shows but I haven’t used
one in the shop.

Harry
www.harryhamilldesigns.com


#15
Even with glass beads I have seen the capillary action cause flat
sheet to stick together enough to greatly limit the finishing
action. 

Just a suggestion here…add just a few drops of the dishwashing
stuff used to break the capillary action and keep water streaks off
of glasses. (Can’t remember the name right now). It works in many
such cases.

Cheers from Don in SOFL


#16

I use an Otec machine for processing silver items It has three
interchangable tubs for magnetic pin burnishing, wet media grinding
and dry media finishing. I only use the first two tubs. The Otec
machine is good but has drawbacks. You can only use one tub at a
time, a nuisance when you need to process several batches at
different stages. The wet barrel is regularly rusting its spindle
wrecking the oil seals and leaking. Replacement spindle etc every
year at approx. UKP140. This is due probably to intermittant use, if
I was using it every day it would probably be OK. The manufacturer
is unable to help solve this problem except sell me new spindles. I
think my next machine will be a vibratory processor!

I use the magnetic processor to clean up castings but it does "dent"
the surface of silver. Advantage - it brightens those impossible to
get at places.

The wet tub is used for fast de-burring, or flash removal using
coarse grinding cones. Very good at cleaning up file marks etc. I
keep the processing slurry for silver recovery.

The surface finish is not good even with fine cones so I use a rotary
tumbler for 2-3 hours for a finer finish. This is followed by steel
shot in the rotary tumbler.

The finished items are a little orange peely so if necessary the flat
surfaces get a final polish on a rotary mop using Hifin compound
(from Cooksons UK). Very good for removal of metal and a fine
finish.

David
www.napkinhook.co.uk


#17

Hi All

It’s been very interesting reading this thread since I’ve been having
trouble with the suction problem while polishing flat pieces. I have
a little gyroc tumbler (nice). Have found that it’s worth stopping it
every 15 minutes and twirling a finger around to find the stuck
together bits and separating them. Generally I’m happy with the
results after an hour or so (at most stages of the process). A bit
more time consuming but it sure beats the dirty fingers and dust of
polishing by hand.

Cheers, Renate


#18

Rio grande suggest me to buy Mini Sonic Tumbler MT-4. I plan to buy
within next 2 weeks… Anybody has experience with this little
machine ?

Thanks.


#19
Rio grande suggest me to buy Mini Sonic Tumbler MT-4. I plan to
buy within next 2 weeks.... Anybody has experience with this little
machine ? 

Komodo - I ran tests on that exact machine - the Mini Sonic Tumbler
MT-4 about 18 months ago. I found it unacceptable for grinding and
for burnishing. It didn’t move the abrasive media enough to smooth
any of the several types of jewelry that I tried. When run with
stainless steel shot in any of several processing times, it just
jiggled and marked the jewelry with little lines where the steel was
stacked up. It didn’t make any of the media roll.

It is somewhat useful for dry media processing, provided that you
don’t load up the little bucket. For the money, I’d buy something
else.

I’d recommend a 6 quart flow thru system for abrasive and dry
processing -

Rio sells a Good Vibes model 202-127 for about $300US. Otto Frei has
that same one as well as a tiny closed system TV-5 for about $120US.
Small rotary tumblers are available for under $100US from many
jewelry supply and rock tumbling sources. Nearly every jewelry supply
company has a selection of these. Just be sure that whatever you
choose permits your jewelry to move freely inside the bowl or barrel.

Happy tumbling!
Judy Hoch