Tumbling small steel parts

I want to tumble small steel parts in ceramic media. I have a vibratory UV10 tumbler. I have never tried ceramics and I understand the best way to use them is wet. I have tried an alternative medium (well, silica cat litter actually) with water and dishwashing liquid. The result was not bad considering, however, flash rusting was a definite issue, not totally unexpected. I tried Zip Wax Car Wash (Turtle Wax) with a similar result.

Has anyone developed a compound to use with the ceramic media that cleans the parts *and* prevents rust? I understand one can buy many proprietary compounds, however, they are expensive and often it is not clear whether they contain a rust inhibitor.

I was wondering if adding something like Evaporust to water would work (not a cheap solution either if any amount of Evaporust were needed) but before any further experimenting I thought I would ask.

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Michael Koblic
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Will this be an ongoing need? I have some on the shelf if you only need a small quantity.

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Lots of guys/shops tumble steel parts dry as a bone. Works pretty well.


One could not be a successful Leftwinger without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of Leftwingers, a goodly number of Leftwingers are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid. Gunner Asch

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Gunner Asch

We use a biodegradable finishing compound with ceramic media called VL555, from ViChem in Rockville, CT. 1-860-676-8250. I would not run ceramic media dry in spite of Gunner's assertion. There are dry medias however...corncob has been used with a paste polish added to it to brighten brass, would not be too effective on your steal though. I guss you want to de-burr them with the tumbler?

You can try using something like Cascade dishwasher soap, you want a surfactant property with the wash. You can set up a drip bucket and gravity feed the wash. Get your parts out promptly when the shake is over and dry them good, might even put em in the oven, add a protectant after that, not whilst still in the tumbler.

G'luck Paul

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My brother uses kerosene. Art

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