The term “tumbling barrels” refers to one of many types of deburring equipment. They are classified specifically as a high-energy deburring machine. The goal of deburring equipment is to remove burrs, which are unwanted extra materials or imperfections, from machined products and parts. Machining processes that create burrs include milling, turning, drilling, engraving and welding. Tumbling barrels in specific are usually used to remove heavy burrs from parts made from hard metals like steel and stainless steel. Parts or materials are inserted into the barrel, which is then closed. Once closed the barrel proceeds to rotate, producing a sliding action that enables deburring. In addition to heavy deburring, tumbling barrels can also be used to achieve mass finishing, which is when two or more parts are finished together, as well as burnishing, which is a form of polishing that is achieved by the plastic deformation that occurs when two objects slide against each other.
Quick links to Tumbling Barrels Information
Tumbling barrels can accomplish deburring, mass finishing and burnishing with or without the assistance of synthetic or organic abrasive materials called deburring media, which include corn cob, walnut shells, plastics, glass beads, carbon steel, aluminum oxide, silicone carbide. In addition, solid materials may be mixed with water in order to create wet media. Deburring media may be produced in a variety of shapes in order to best serve the needs of an application, including: balls, ovals, ellipses, cones, hexagons, drums and diagonal lines. While deburring media can enhance the deburring process by creating greater friction, their presence is not necessary because tumbling barrels employ a rotational movement, which mimics natural erosion and causes smooth surfaces.
Wet and Dry Deburring
Tumbling barrels are used for both wet and dry deburring projects, but most often, they are reserved for wet deburring. Of all wet deburring applications utilized via tumbling barrels, the most common is the processing of metal materials. They are often used to achieve mass finishing and increase the surface shine and smoothness of materials being processed. To work, wet tumbling barrels require the addition of wet deburring media. The type of wet media most often used with wet tumbling barrels is one that is mixed with abrasive grit. While dry tumbling barrels are not used as often as wet tumbling barrels, they do offer greater uniformity and smoother finishes than their more popular counterparts. Dry tumbling barrels can also be used for mass finishing, also called batch processing, as well as deflashing and grinding. Deflashing is the process of removing flash, also known as flashing, which is, much like burrs, excess material attached to cast, molded or forged product. If a manufacturer deems it necessary or desirable, dry tumbling barrels may utilize dry deburring media like stainless steel, hardwood, polycarbonate or hardwood.
Applications for Tumbling Barrels
Many commercial and industrial applications benefit from the use of tumbling barrels. These include: jewelry and fine metal polishing, the polishing of precious stones and gemstone, metalwork, plastic fabrication processes, manufacturing, the deburring of building materials like concrete and stone, the deburring of hardware like bolts, screws and fasteners, the cleaning and polishing of mined materials like rock and stone aggregates, and other applications related to agriculture, semiconductors, electronics, automotives and aviation.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Tumbling Barrels
The choice of whether or not to use deburring media and, if so, what type to use, should be based on application and the type of material being deburred. For example, organic media optimizes the cleaning of parts that have undergone industrial machining processes because they are so good at absorbing contaminants like grease, oils and dirts. On the other hand, ceramic media, which is of an extremely high density and undergoes heat treatment before usage, is best suited to deburr hard metals like steel and stainless steel. Conversely, plastic deburring media does its best deburring work on soft metals like brass and aluminum. Regardless of their subtype or function, most tumbling barrels are made from steel or composite materials with similar properties, and lined with a polymer like urethane.
To secure one or more tumbling barrels for your application, consult a barrel manufacturer and/or a deburring expert who can guide you through the process. The success of your tumbling barrels depends upon selecting the right machinery for your application, whether that be a wet tumbling barrel with wet media, a dry tumbling barrel with dry media or a dry tumbling barrel without any media at all. If you are planning on using deburring media, make sure to select a material or materials that are abrasive enough to properly clean your product, but not so abrasive as to harm them. With the right barrels and materials, tumbling will prove a great asset. Tumbling is effective, inexpensive, multi-functional and fast.