When parts and items need to be finished, many times they are placed in tumbling drums with a mixture of abrasive material to be finished. This process is also known as barrel finishing, since the tumbling drums can also be referred to as barrels due to their shape and resemblance to barrels. There are two basic types of barrel finishing; these are known as dry tumbling and wet tumbling. Depending on a variety of factors, tumbling, wet or dry, can take anywhere between 6 to 24 hours. These processes are similar with some key differences between them. This article will briefly look at some of the key differences between dry tumbling and wet tumbling.
- Wet Tumbling Uses Water: As the name implies, wet tumbling uses a wet mixture to finish the products placed inside the barrel. Once the barrel is loaded with products that needed to be finished, several inches of water are added to the barrel. This barrel is then combined with an abrasive material that mixes with the water and creates a mixture that creates the desired finish on the items. Wet tumbling machines can use more or less water depending on how long the manufacturers want the tumbling process to take.
- Dry Tumbling Uses Dry Abrasives: As opposed to wet tumbling, dry tumbling finishes products placed inside the barrel without the use of water. Instead, the products are slowly tumbled with a mixture of dry abrasive materials, like sand for example, which slowly rubs the desired finish onto the items. Barrel speeds in dry tumbling are generally kept to 28 to 32 RPM.
- Tumbling is Used in Place of Hand Buffing: The reason dry tumbling and wet tumbling is used in the first place is because it’s considered a superior alternative to hand buffing. Before the arrival of tumbling drum machines, this finishing process was conducted by people polishing these items by hand. Now, it’s considered more advantageous and quicker to have tumbling machines conduct this process, since the drums can finish many items at once instead of working on one item at a time.
In conclusion, wet tumbling and dry tumbling are two similar processes that are found in various manufacturing processes. The primary difference is that wet tumbling uses a wet mixture to create a finished surface on an item while dry tumbling does not. In general, dry and wet tumbling is considered superior to hand buffing. This is just a brief overview of the wet and dry tumbling process.