The use of polishing machines began in the early 17th century, when people started to utilize optic tools, like eyeglasses, more frequently. In fact, at this time in history, polishing machines were also used to create lenses for microscopes, telescopes and many other optic products. Since then, polishing machines have substantially evolved. For a time, they were limited to the polishing of glass and bronze, but they can now polish a wide variety of materials, like silver, copper, brass, chrome and others. While polishing machines help finish and perfect products in a variety of ways, within the context of deburring, the purpose of polishing machines is to remove burrs, ragged edges and other excess material, while leaving the other material untouched.
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Applications of Polishing Machines
Polishing machines primarily serve parts that have just undergone process machining, for which deburring acts as a secondary process. Machining processes that may leave burrs include engraving, drilling, turning, welding, extruding and etching. The removal of excess and sharp material serves a few different purposes; it aids in accident prevention, makes an item smooth or shinier than before and prepares machined parts to be assembled as a part of a final product. Because polishing is such a widespread necessity, polishing machines are employed by many industries, such as industrial manufacturing, construction, automotive and aviation and retail. In industrial manufacturing, they polish small components that require little material removal, like hinges and bolts. In construction, they polish and deburr building materials like marble, stone, tile and concrete. Polishing machines lend shine to the exterior components of land and air vehicles, like, for example, hubcaps and metal body frames. Finally, polishing machines have diverse applications in retail, including the polishing of precious stones, fine metals and decorative stones for jewelry.
Polishing Through Vibration or Rotation
Those pieces of equipment that fall under the polishing machine umbrella are quite diverse. However, while polishing machines use a wide variety of equipment, they all operate using one of two forces: vibration or rotation. Generally, deburring and polishing via vibrations are achieved through a vibratory tumbling barrel, also called a vibratory tumbler. Vibratory tumblers use grind and polish away burrs from parts placed inside a barrel, through the implementation of extended periods of vibration and, often, abrasive media. Generally, vibratory tumblers polish smaller parts and loads. Other types of polishing equipment that polish small parts and materials include: abrasive nylon brushes, belt grinders, hand-held wheels and polishing lathes. Rotational polishing is achieved with the help of a tumbler barrel that rotates around an axis for a prescribed period of time and may or may not contain a form of media.
The presence of an abrasive media, along with the sliding motion created by rotation, effectively smoothes sharp and coarse edges. Types of media that polishing machines utilize include very fine abrasive deburring compounds, such as sand, ceramics and fine-grit aluminum polycarbonates and oxides. If their purpose is large parts polishing, polishing machines frequently require additional parts, such as belts, wheels or brushes. In addition, large parts polishing normally requires the use of automated processes like robotic polishing. One such example is polishing by buffing. Buffing is a process that produces exceptionally smooth and shiny surfaces through the use of very low abrasion. To coat surfaces with protective coatings, buffing compounds, which can produce a variety of colors, can be added in during the polishing process.
Polishing brushes are polishing machines that wear many hats and come in a variety of forms. For example, they may be automated, attached to a motor, made as cylinder or roller brushes, where they rotate swiftly. These polishing machines polish the surface of any objects with which they come in contact. To serve smaller applications, polishing brushes can be designed in disc and cup shapes and attached to any handheld power tool, such as a hand drill. These brushes can come in a variety of sizes, making it simple and convenient for anyone to quickly, professionally and inexpensively polish individual items. Still other polishing brushes are custom made to work with industrial machines as a component of an automated cleaning process. Brushes like these can be replaced easily when they wear out. Large, round polishing brushes can be used on cars to buff out streaks left by waxing and replace it with a smooth, shiny surface. They can even be used to shine chrome products and parts. Polishing brushes are also a perfect tool to polish delicate pieces or products that could not endure polishing from a tumbler or a power tool without damage.
Because of the many options available to end-users and manufacturers, it is easy to become confused or be unsure of which one to buy. For that reason, those seeking polishing machines should seek out a polishing machine professional. With their help, users will be able to select the best polishing machine for their application.