Eliminate Variation by Utilizing Deburring and Polishing Machines Made by the Experts

Machines don’t daydream, but if an MFI centrifugal tumbling machine could dream, it would likely involve lavish tumbling media types and gleaming parts. These industrial finishing machines are one of the best kept secrets in the medical device industry.

Since it’s the last step in bringing a product to market, post-process finishing is the final step between a medical device manufacturer and their customer. For Mass Finishing, a manufacturer of finishing machines and supplies, it’s a top priority.

MFI Lab Engineer and Sales Director Tommy Mathisen has been working with medical manufacturers around the world for over 30 years. He utilizes centrifugal barrel tumblers which have four barrels or containers that are mounted on a turret that revolve in a planetary motion at high speed.

He’s seen plenty of parts during his career. “Bone plates, bone screws, knee and hip implants, and heart valves are the most common, and more and more are 3D printed,” he explained.

Mathisen continues to perfect his process utilizing barrel tumblers to break sharp edges, remove tough burrs, improve surface finish and add a mirror polish to medical devices and implants. In his lab, located in central Minnesota, he experiments with different cycle speeds, process times and tumbling media to maximize efficiency.

“It all depends on how the part comes to us, but if they have a 64 Ra starting finish, I’d say three 20-minute cycles is an average process time,” Mathisen explains.

Most of the new clients he helps are polishing parts one at a time by hand, using brushes and polishing wheels. While there are advantages to having human contact on the finish, the task can be extremely monotonous and grueling, not to mention time consuming.

Mathisen says consistency is the main advantage to utilizing a machine versus hand deburring. “Once the process is established it’s totally repeatable unlike an operator who could be daydreaming and ruin a part.”

There are other advantages to a tumbled part compared with hand polishing. “We have an isotropic finish (random surface) versus linear, like hand buffing, meaning our surface is true in every direction,” Mathisen says.

The results of his efforts usually speak for themselves. “When a customer comes to our lab, I always show them a simple polish, even if they don’t want it, to show them what these machines are capable of doing,” he says. “90 percent of the time they can’t believe what they’re seeing, and I’ve had customers tell me to run the parts again to prove it’s not a trick.”

If you’re manufacturing parts and would like to see what MFI machines can do, Mathisen says, “Send parts! We have one of the best labs in the country. We use medias from all the top manufacturers from all over the world and along with our compounds we can do things other labs just can’t do.”

You can learn more about mass finishing at www.massfin.com.