How To Select Tumbling Media in the Right Way

Figure 2. Choice of Media

Are you into the manufacturing business of metal, plastic, or ceramic parts?

If yes, then you will also be involved in the finishing and polishing of these parts.

If you are using any of the mass finishing machines for the finishing process, then you will also have to correctly select tumbling media.

In this guide, we will help you to select the right tumbling media and the benefits of choosing the right one.


1. Tumbling Media Explained

Tumbling media is a fused mixture of abrasive with different types of materials.

They are added to the mass finishing machine along with the parts for cleaning, deburring, degreasing, descaling, finishing, and polishing.

The abrasive nature of the media helps to do the mass finishing process.

They are always in contact with the part inside a mass finishing machine.

Select Tumbling Media Various types of tumbling media


2. Importance Of Selecting The Right Tumbling Media

So, let us have a look at the various advantages of selecting the right tumbling media for your business.


2.1 Saves Processing Time

The right tumbling media will help you to reduce the overall processing time.

So, you can get properly finished parts in less amount of time.

So, you don’t have to run the mass finishing time for more hours.


2.2 Saves Cost

If you use the right tumbling media, then you can bring down the processing time of the machine.

Thus, you can complete the process in less time.

So, more polished parts at the same time.

Thus, you can save the operating cost.


2.3 For Proper Part Cleaning

When you are feeding the mass finishing machine with the parts and tumbling media, you expect proper cleaning of the part.

But, this cleaning effectiveness will get reduced if you use the wrong type of media for finishing.


2.4 To Improve Mass Finishing Efficiency

The efficiency of the finishing process is a crucial factor in any manufacturing business.

If you can finish more parts efficiently in less amount of time, then you make the whole process efficient.

It can be done only by choosing the right tumbling media.


2.5 To Avoid the Excess Material Removal from Part

Wrong media may result in excessive part removal.

It will make the part unusable.


2.6 Avoid Part Rejection

When you are into the manufacturing business, you should try to achieve maximum part yield.

Many times, part rejection happens after finishing and polishing work.

It can be because of using the wrong media type for finishing work.

So, use the right tumbling media to avoid part rejection due to polishing works.


2.7 For Damage Free Polishing

If you use a higher cutting media or a hard media for polishing a soft part, then it may damage the part.

So, try to match the media with material type to avoid part damages that are not recoverable.


2.8 For Perfect Deburring

You should always ensure that the abrasive strength of the tumbling media is good enough to remove the burrs in part.

If the abrasive strength is less, then deburring will not be proper.

If it is more, then excess material will get removed from the surface.

So, always make sure that the media has the right abrasive strength for deburring.


2.9 To Get Best Finish Quality

The finish quality is essential in the manufacturing business.

You can get the best possible finish to the part with the help of the right tumbling media.


2.10 To Avoid Part Failure

The cleaning and burr removal may not be proper if the wrong media is selected.

So, when such parts are assembled in the final product, it can fail.


2.11 For Perfect Surface Preparation for Coating

Proper surface preparation is essential if you intend to coat/paint the part.

Otherwise, the coating will not stick properly.


2.12 For Best Tumbling Performance

You can make the whole process efficient only though the best tumbling performance.


2.13 Helps to Protect part from impingements during mass finishing

If you don’t select the right media, then the parts may hit against each other.

So, it can damage the parts.


3. Factor To Consider For Selecting The Right Tumbling Media

Let us have a look at the different Factors to consider while selecting a tumbling media.


3.1 Tumbling Media Material

Inovatec manufactures tumbling media using different types of materials.

So, you can do the finishing of almost all types of parts using any of these media.


3.1.1 Plastic Media

Plastic media is best suited for soft metals like aluminum or brass parts.

They are lighter than the ceramic media.

You can use it for parts that are going for anodizing.

It helps to smoothen the surface with less shine.

plastic medai vibratory finishing


3.1.2 Ceramic Media

If it is a hard metal part, then ceramic media is a good choice.

It helps to remove the burrs efficiently with a better cutting rate.

You can also use the smaller size one for cleaning rough surfaces.

ceramic deburring media


3.1.3 Porcelain Media

Porcelain media is best suited for polishing purposes.

They don’t have any abrasives.

You can use it for wet polishing with water or other polishing compounds.

You can use it on both hard and soft metal parts.

ceramic media polishing porcelain tumbling media


3.1.4 Organic Media

Organic media is used for two purposes.

It is used for drying and for providing high gloss finish on metals with the help of polishing compounds.

If the part is subjected to wet polishing, then drying is essential.


3.1.5 Steel Media

Steel media is used for deburring, burnishing, and polishing of stainless steel parts.

vibratory burnishing stainless steel machining parts


3.1.6 Special Tumbling Media

Special tumbling media like zirconia balls and high density media are also used for cleaning and burnishing parts.


3.2 Shape of the Tumbling Media

The shape of the tumbling media plays a crucial role in the mass finishing process.

Inovatec offers many shapes like a ball, pyramid, cylinder, lens, tetrahedron, tristar, angle cut cylinder, etc.

If you have any requirements for custom media shape, then you can place a request to get it done.

If your part has holes or crevices, then you will have to use shapes like tristar, angle cut cylinder, or lens to clean and finish those areas.

Shapes like ball and cylinder are suitable for finishing the outer surface.

These shapes cannot provide proper polishing in the holes.

So, select the right tumbling media shape for increasing the finishing effectiveness.

ceramic deburring media


3.3 Size of the Tumbling Media

If you use big size media with small parts, then it can damage the parts.

If the part has holes or openings, then you should be very careful about the media size.

Here, you need to choose the tumbling media in such a way that the size is less than one third of the smallest hole size.

Otherwise, the media may get stuck in these holes, and you will have to clean it.

Big size media is suitable for cleaning and polishing the outer surface of the part.

plastic deburring media


3.4 Cutting Rate of the Tumbling Media

The cutting rate is dependent on the amount of abrasive content in the media.

Higher the abrasive media content,  more will be the cutting rate.

Inovatec offers multiple cutting rate options in each type of tumbling media.

If you are dealing with parts of heavy metals, then you can use media with higher cutting rates.

It will cause more material removal from the part surface.

So, it is suitable for cleaning purposes.

Tumbling media with a lower cutting rate is suitable for polishing the part.


3.5 Hardness of the Tumbling Media

You should not use hard media with a soft part.

It will damage the part.

Use hard tumbling media for strong metals.

If you are finishing soft parts, then go for a media with lesser hardness.


3.6 Cost of the Tumbling Media

Cost is an important factor while selecting the tumbling media.

You must ensure that cost of the media is within your budget.

Otherwise, the entire solution may not prove to be a cost effective one.


3.7 Life of the Media

You can use some media for many years, whereas others come with a limited lifespan.

So, when you are making the media selection, go for one with longer life.

It will help you to bring down the overall operating cost in the long run.

It will also help to reduce media wastage.


3.8 Material Type of the Part

You should have a clear understanding of the material type of the part.

It will help you to select the matching tumbling media.

If you don’t know the exact material component type, then you may end up in selecting the wrong media.

So, your finishing process will not be efficient.


3.9 Complexity of the Part

If you are dealing with complex and fragile parts for cleaning and finishing, then you should be very careful.

Here, you must select a media that doesn’t cause too much wear and tear to the part.

Also, the tumbling media should be able to reach every nook and corner of the part surface for finishing.

prevent parts lodging vibratory finishing


3.10 Part Manufacturing Process

You should also consider the part manufacturing process.

Different parts are manufactured using different processes.

The type of tumbling media will be different for a 3d printed part than for a machine part.

The 3d printed part will have a rough surface.

So, you need a tumbling media of good abrasive strength for smoothening the surface.


3.11 Type of Finish Requirement

Finish requirement is another crucial factor.

The two types of finish requirements in parts are glossy and matte.

So, you need to confirm that the tumbling media can provide the desired finish requirements.


3.12 Polishing Requirement

Polishing requirements vary for different parts.

Some parts demand a mirror like glossy finish, whereas others may not need it.


3.13 Wet Tumbling Requirement

You may have to go for a wet tumbling process for some parts.

So, here you need to ensure that the polishing compound can be used with the selected tumbling media.

Sometimes, water is used as the polishing compound.

Some products which demand high end glossy finish need specific polishing compounds.

You must also ensure that the polishing compound is compatible with the material type of the part.


3.14 Tumbling Media Quality

If you use poor quality media for polishing, then you may end up damaging the parts.

It can also bring down the overall efficiency of the process.

The life of such media will be very less.

So, always invest on high quality media.

Never compromise on the media quality over cost concerns.


3.15 Discuss with the Vendor

If you have any highly complex parts, then you may not be able to find a matching tumbling media shape and size from the manufacturer’s list.

So, the best option is to check with the media manufacturer for their suggestions.

The highly skilled and experienced engineers from Inovatec can guide to select the right media for tumbling.


3.16 Type of Mass Finishing Machine

In most of the cases, all tumbling media can be used with different types of mass finishing machines.

But, in rare circumstances, certain types of finishing media may not be compatible with some of the finishing machines.

So, always double check the media compatibility with the operating machine.

It will save you from investing in the wrong media type.

vibratory deburring machine ready for export


3.17 Part Size

You should also take the size of the part to be finished into consideration.

If the part size is big, then you can go for a bigger media size.

Only then, the removal of burrs and cleaning will be effective.

You should also make sure that it is easy to separate the part from the media.



Now, you know how to select the right tumbling media.

If you are selecting the tumbling media for the first time, then you must consider these factors.

It will help you to make the right choice.

Inovatec machinery offers tumbling media of very high quality.

The strict quality measure adopted by Inovatec during the manufacturing process makes it possible.

So, invest in the right type of high quality tumbling media to take your business to new heights.


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