What a Rotary Tumbler Drum Can Do


Metal is one of the most common materials today, used for nearly everything from automobiles to tools to computers and beyond. Just as many method exist for modifying the property or appearance of metals, such as using a Burr King or similar brand of grinding device to remove metal burrs. Other times, metal may be burnished or polished, and a rotary tumbler drum may be useful for many applications on metal. Similar items such as ac commercial rock tumbler, extreme tumblers, and other vibratory finishing equipment may be employed. A rotary tumbler drum can do a lot of good if used properly. What can a rotary tumbler drum do, and on a similar note, why are metal burrs removed from metal? Where do burrs even come from?

Using a Rotary Tumbler Drum

Vibratory finishing involves four major elements during work: parts, media, compound solutions, and of course the equipment. According to The Bench, a rotary tumbler drum can be highly effective for polishing metal, and many factories and other professionals may find this very attractive. Many pieces of metal or metal objects can be processed this way at the same time, making for some very efficient work. Such tumblers, or barreling machines, are composed of a container with a removable lid, and steel shot plus water and a cleaning compound are placed inside. All of this will be rotated on a motorized unit for some time, until the metals have a shiny finish. Changing the compounds and media inside the barrel can in fact allow it to do different work, such as cutting or burr removal, making these flexible devices for someone to use in an industrial setting.

Silver, gold, copper, and brass items and more can be polished inside of a barrel drum, but users should note that items of different metal types should be loaded separately, or cross contamination may occur. It should also be noted that while chains can be polished in a rotary tumbler drum, there are real risks of getting the chains tangled, so users should be thus advised. Hollow items may end up with shot or other compounds in them, but in most cases, it should be easy to remove those materials with a magnet or similar measures.

How long does this take? There is no single precise timing for this, but for smaller loads, a user can check after two hours, and the work may be done. Three hours is probably a safe rough estimate for most jobs, but the good news is, over-polishing is not a risk. A person can check back at their leisure, and there are no consequences for leaving items in the tumbler for an extended period of time. It will never be “too late” to retrieve the metal items inside.

All necessary sanding and filing should be done before metal items are placed in such a barrel machine, since they will not remove scratches or dents from the metal surface. It should also be noted that items with stones in them may suffer from the process, as most stones, even harder ones, may get scratched or pitted or otherwise compromised by the steel shot inside. Jewelry, however, is safe to put inside a tumbler for polishing, and cold water plus a small amount of a polishing compound can be added. The user can add the jewelry and steel shot, and allow the machine to finish its work, no further human input needed. This can make such devices attractive for jewelers, for example. And there is no real way of doing this wrong, with the possible exception of adding too much water (half full is usually fine).

On a final note, such devices can be used to remove metal burrs. These are imperfections in metal as a result of welding, drilling, and other work, and they are often rough bits of metal that stick up. Burrs are an issue because they can attract static electricity, or they may scrape and scratch other surfaces during the overall device’s use. Sometimes, grinding devices are used to remove metal burrs, and tumbling machines are another way to quickly remove these undesirable imperfections in metal.


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