tumbling media shape

Shapes of Tumbling Media Explained

Tumbling media comes in a variety of interesting shapes and each shape has a unique purpose. Some are perfect for polishing and others for heavy deburring. For most people, picking the right shape for the right job might be a point of confusion. To simplify the selection process, it’s important to know that each shape can produce different results.

In general, round media will work best on parts that are also round. Similarly, media that has flat sides will work best on parts that also have flat surfaces. In other words, the shape determines how much contact there will be between the media and the parts. To get the desired results, know that better contact means a nicer and faster finish.

The shape of the media is also important in preventing issues with lodging. Simply put, the media should be able to reach all areas on the parts, but without lodging itself in holes. In that case, not only the shape but also the size of the media will play a major role.

Steel media shapes

Steel media is perfect for deburring and polishing metal, ceramic, or plastic parts. But the quality of the results will depend on the shape of the steel media.

stainless steel tumbling media
stainless steel tumbling media

Because of its resistance to corrosion, ball cone steel media is great for wet tumbling. That shape is also suitable for deburring and polishing edges. What’s more, this media combines the benefits of both the cone and ball shapes.

Steel media can also come in a pin or diagonal shape. Pins can be large or small and are effective in deburring steel, copper, or brass. Similarly, steel balls are often used for burnishing brass, for example.

In practice, it’s not uncommon to mix different shapes of steel media to get the best results.

Ceramic media shapes

Ceramic media is effective when there’s a need for light or heavy deburring. This type of media is fast-cutting and aggressive in removing rust or paint.

Ceramic tumbling media
Ceramic tumbling media

On top of that, its versatility stems from the many shapes and sizes it comes in. In general, the shape of the ceramic media will define its cutting strength. In other words, the abrasiveness will depend on the angles. So, to get a good surface finish, picking the right shape is vital.

For example, cylindrical ceramic media is great for removing rust. Triangles are perfect for cleaning or deburring. However, other shapes such as stars, balls, and spheres are also quite common. Even though ceramic media is used for polishing, in most cases it will leave a dull, matt finish.

Plastic media shapes

Plastic media has moderate cutting abilities and comes in many shapes and sizes. In general, it is suitable for removing rust, paint, and coatings.

plastic tumbling media
plastic tumbling media

Most often, plastic media comes in the shape of a pyramid or cone. Pyramid-shaped media is useful when fast cutting is necessary, while cone-shaped media is perfect for smoothing out metal surfaces after ceramic deburring.

On top of that, using plastic media of any shape will prevent lodging. For example, nipple-shaped plastic media is mostly for light cutting. It has a unique design that will easily clean holes and slots without getting lodged.