MFN Trainer Column
in Vol. 17 - March Issue - Year 2016
Training To Help You Re-evaluate And Optimise Your Process
In every field of engineering, training has assumed a place of prime importance. When used correctly and with knowledge and understanding, Vibratory Mass Finishing can dramatically reduce finishing costs and enhance the functionality and appearance of a wide range of components.
As a user (or potential user) of the Vibratory Mass Finishing process, it is helpful to understand why so many different variations of media are available, and to be aware of the new developments that have been made in this field. A good quality training course delivered away from the typical sales platform is an excellent way to help understand the many different functions, and practical and commercial aspects of modern media available today, enabling you to make adjustments and refine your process so you can achieve the optimum, most cost-effective surface finish.
Although the use of the appropriate equipment is very important, without the correct media/process, the most favourable surface finish will not be achieved. It could be that your current media provides an acceptable finish, but an alternative may achieve the same finish in a shorter process time, resulting in an increase in capacity, throughput and productivity. Alternatively and maybe additionally, a different media may surpass your current surface finish and quality.
Many manufacturers of mass-produced components continue to use the same process, often a duplication of the same process that was installed together with the original equipment and from the same supplier. While of course the old adage "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is sometimes understandable, and for some applications the finishing process is part of an approved procedure such as in the aerospace industry so can be difficult to change, it is unwise not to be aware of the developments that have been made in the field of surface finishing media. It is important to be confident that your existing process is (or is not) the most cost-effective and productive as possible.
Awareness of recent process developments and new techniques will help understand how to apply the correct media/process for your application that can result in the following benefits
• Increase productivity and quality of surface finish
• Achieve tangible/achievable objectives
• Reduce process times
• Improve surface finish
• Reduce waste water treatment costs
• Improve customer satisfaction
• Improve costs, media per kg Vs running costs
• Reduce media consumption
For example, many are not aware of the recent developments in "dry finishing media". For some applications, this has replaced the conventional wet process. In these instances, favourable savings can be realised as liquid compound and water are not required, neither is wastewater treatment; additional savings come from packaging, transportation, and disposal, etc.
Because Vibratory Mass Finishing is an established technique, occasionally there is a perception that the processes are crude and little development made; this cannot be further from reality especially when it comes to process and media development. While often the carrier of the new development is a traditional machine, the selection of the correct media combined with a good understanding from training is the key to a successful Vibratory Mass Finishing process.
Whether the media to be used is a conventional ceramic or plastic, dry or other alternative media, it is important that the following criteria are considered:
Vibratory Mass Finishing: Application variables
• Surface finish required (roughness Ra etc)
• Metallurgical structure of the components
• Start condition of the components
• Volume/number of components to be processed
• Size and dimensions of the components
• Pre/Post processes or operations
• Sensitivity of the components
Vibratory Mass Finishing: Factors that influence media selection
• Wet or Dry
• Ceramic Plastic or Other
• Will the media size selected lodge in any holes or recesses, either when it is new or worn?
• Grade: Polishing, Abrasive, Super-Finishing etc.
• Single or Multi-Stage process
• Will the shape/size contact all the required areas of the component?
• Can the shape/size selected be automatically separated at the end of the process?
Vibratory Mass Finishing Training courses are available from a number of providers including our own MFN FAA accepted course.
Author: Paul Rawlinson