Centrifugal Barrel Finishing: An Overview

Over the last 25 – 30 years, centrifugal barrel finishing (CBF) has gained acceptance as a high-energy finishing method. CBF utilizes opposing barrels or drums, which are then mounted on a turret. The barrels are driven by a planetary belt system; as the main frame rotates at a high speed, the belt counter-rotates the barrels. The counter-rotation creates high pressures or G forces and a large amount of media sliding action within the barrels, thereby allowing consistent and replicable finishes.

How Centrifugal Barrel Finishing Differs from Other Finishing Methods
Centrifugal barrel finishing is similar to barrel finishing because it uses a drum container that is filled with parts, media, water, and surfactants and then put into motion so that the contents slide and the parts are finishes. However, CBF differs from other finishing processes in some significant ways. CBF utilizes a unique sliding action that is most comparable to a Ferris wheel. It uses rotational and centrifugal forces at high speeds in order to increase the G forces on the media. These high pressures decrease cycle times, so surface finishes can be developed in less time than vibratory finishing (VF) equipment. Further, small and delicate parts can be processed using CBF because the unique sliding action holds parts in position, so part impingement is not a problem.

The media used in CBF is another aspect that sets it apart from traditional processes. In CBF, the media is much smaller than most used for vibratory and barrel finishing. The smaller media in a high-pressure environment provide a number of benefits:

  • Greater access to all areas of the parts being finished
  • Aid equipment in developing very fine finishes
  • The capability of performing more work than lower energy processes

When to Choose CBF
Knowing when to choose CBF over traditional vibratory and barrel finishing processes is important. Conventional methods are most cost-effective if acceptable surface finishes can be developed in a few hours. However, if a part will require a long cycle time with traditional methods or needs a special finish, centrifugal barrel finishing will be a better choice. CBF is specifically designed for reducing cycle times and providing surface finishes for critical applications.

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