Vibratory Finishing Media

In the realm of finishing and polishing, vibratory finishing media plays a critical role in refining the surfaces of various parts and components. Let’s dive deep into understanding this vital process and the types of media used.

What is Vibratory Finishing?

Vibratory finishing is a process used to improve the surface finish of a part, remove burrs, or prepare items for the next stage of manufacturing. By placing parts in a vibratory finisher with specially chosen media, the parts are gently and consistently polished and refined.

Types of Vibratory Finishing Media:

  • Ceramic Media: These are hard and dense, ideal for heavy cutting and hard metals. They come in various shapes, from pyramids to cylinders.
  • Plastic Media: Lighter than ceramic, plastic media is best suited for softer metals and is available in shapes like cones, pyramids, and stars.
  • Walnut Shells & Corn Cob Media: Natural and biodegradable, they’re primarily used for light deburring and polishing.
  • Stainless Steel & Aluminum Oxide: Preferred for burnishing processes, offering bright and shiny finishes.
  • Glass and Stone Media: Used for specific applications where a gentle abrasive touch is required.

Choosing the correct media and compound for your vibratory application is just as important as the equipment itself. Using the proper combination of media and compound can significantly reduce process times and overall costs while increasing part quality and appearance. The three major media categories are Ceramic, Plastic and Steel.

ceramic vibratory finishing media

Ceramic Media

Ceramic media is the most common media used in use today. Ceramic media is often used for deburring, radiusing and descaling but it can be used for cleaning, burnishing and surface refinement as well.

It is available without abrasive for polishing and with extremely aggressive abrasives to process parts with heavy burrs, sharp edges or deep machine lines. Industrimax NY offers the most comprehensive ceramic media selection available.

Plastic Media

Plastic media is the second most common mass finishing media. It is produced by mixing abrasives with various types of resins and pouring those mixtures into molds to create shapes and sizes suited for a given geometry.

Plastic media is generally 10 – 20 pounds lighter than ceramic media (per cubic foot). The low density characteristics of plastic media make it an ideal candidate for softer metals, die castings and precision machined parts where there are critical surface finishes and tight tolerances.

Plastic media is also far less likely to chip, reducing the problems caused by lodging in various geometric features of machined components compared to lodging from ceramic media.

Secondary Service offers standard and specialized formulations of plastic media and has the experience to assist you in selecting the right product for your application.

Steel Media

Steel media is often used for edge breaking and burnishing. Steel media along with the proper compound, can produce a bright luster finish on aluminum, brass, copper and steel parts in a relatively short time.

The added weight (approximately 300 pounds per cubic foot) helps to break or dull sharp edges, and when properly cared for, steel media can virtually last forever.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Vibratory FINISHING Media:

  • Material and Size of Part: Harder metals might require dense ceramic media, while plastics might be better suited for softer media types.
  • Desired Finish: Whether one requires a polished shine or merely wants to remove rough edges can determine the choice of media.
  • Shape and Design of the Part: Complex parts with nooks might benefit from smaller, angular media that can reach tighter areas.
  • Wear Rate & Bulk Density: Some media wear out faster, while others, like ceramic, are known for longevity.
  • Frequency of Cycles: How often one runs finishing cycles can impact media choice.

Benefits of Vibratory Finishing:

  • Uniform Finish: Provides consistent results, ensuring each part meets the desired specifications.
  • Environmental Impact: Choices like walnut shells or corn cobs are biodegradable, making them environmentally friendly options.
  • Efficiency: It’s a process that can handle bulk operations, finishing multiple parts simultaneously.
  • Flexibility: With a variety of media types and sizes available, one can achieve a broad range of finishes.

Innovations and Advancements

As industries evolve, there’s a push for media that can deliver faster results without compromising quality. Polystyrene, nylon, polycarbonate, acrylic, and polypropylene are emerging as potential materials for vibratory media, offering unique properties that could enhance finishing processes further.


Vibratory finishing media is more than just abrasive materials tossed into a tumbler. It’s a blend of science, technology, and artistry, ensuring parts and components look and function their best. As industries grow, the demand for specialized media will continue to expand, promising even better and more efficient results in the future.

Free Sample Processing

Feel free to contact us to discover how we can optimize your cleaning processes with our state-of-the-art vibratory finishing equipment and technology.

For questions or to order call: (716) 288-7105