29 Nov Finishing metal with a vibratory tumbler
One of the unusual machines we have in a quiet corner of the workshop is a vibratory tumbler. It’s like a great big potato rumbler for metal parts and was designed and manufactured in Coventry, UK.
Increasingly we use laser or plasma cut parts in our ride manufacturing and whilst they are cut with almost perfect precision they do arrive with us with mill scale from the original rolling process and carbon and oxidation on the surfaces. All of these will make welding more difficult as you really don’t want carbon on the surfaces when it comes to welding them together.
What this little machine does is automatically process batches of components that require a separation of those components from the media it’s finished in. In other words, you put the components in, set the machine running and when you want them out again, the system separates them back out and delivers them back out looking clean, tidy and ready for welding. They are also coated with a rust reducing liquid, so when they do come out, they remain pristine.
The media is a tactile ceramic product and as you can see above, is an irregular prism shape or 3d angle cut triangle. To you and I, it’s just like a small Toblerone shape that has been sliced at an angle at both ends. This particular media is designed for deburring and edge finishing, but with a different media, it could be used to produce a highly polished finish instead.
The separation is perfectly Heath Robinson and simple using a mechanical flap which directs the media and components onto a separation grid. The grid has holes in it, which allow the media to fall back into the bowl and the finished components to be driven out of the side opening.
When you see it like this, it’s hard to get a sense of scale of the machine running. So to make that easier, here’s a short video of it in operation.