I am confused by all the ceramic media compositions. How do I know which to select?
Not many years ago, it was simple to select a composition. You could choose between polishing, cutting and fast cutting. Then silicon carbide abrasive was added to prevent weld-ing problems, and then faster fused aluminum oxide compositions were developed to compete with the speed of SiC without the high cost. It was still pretty simple. That was before extra heavy and then extra light compositions were developed. Today, media manufacturers offer 12, or more, different ceramic compositions, each aimed at some application, or just matching a competitor’s products.
Selecting the right composition may take some advice from your vendor, but stay focused on your specific requirement. If possible, get some parts run in a variety of the proposed media. Usually, one choice will stand out to best fit your parameters. Fast compositions will always wear faster, and this means more media dust and the possibility of needing a parts washer, or at least a rinse station after deburring. These considerations may offset the advantage of a shorter time cycle.
You asked about ceramic media, but there are many other products, each having advantages and disadvantages. There are more than 30 different products used as tumbling media. These range from botanical and animal products to metals and plastics. An evaluation of ceramic compositions should include at least a cursory review of these other options. Ask us if you would like some articles dealing with media selection.