Many manufacturing companies in Pittsburgh use abrasive flow machining (AFM) to deburr and polish parts intended for a wide range of applications, including automobiles, aircraft, firearms, medical devices, and more. AFM improves the function, reliability, and performance of parts and components in ways that other finishing processes can’t. Almost any manufacturer can benefit from incorporating AFM into their finishing process.

AFM provides many advantages to other finishing methods. The AFM process can be fine-tuned to produce highly accurate and repeatable results with shorter cycle times. It’s ideal for parts with complex surface geometries and internal passages that may be impossible to reach using other processes. AFM effectively reduces surface roughness, relieving surface stresses.

Abrasive Flow Media is Critical to the AFM Process

AFM works by using an abrasive flow media to erode away burrs and other imperfections and smooth and polish both external and inner surfaces. The abrasive flow media used in the AFM process is a carefully formulated compound consisting of an abrasive material (usually aluminum oxide or silicon carbide) combined with a carrier medium (various polymers). Using the right abrasive flow media

During the AFM process, an abrasive flow media is pushed across and through a workpiece, eroding away burrs and other imperfections while smoothing and polishing both external and inner surfaces. The abrasive flow media is a compound consisting of an abrasive material (usually aluminum oxide or silicon carbide) combined with a carrier medium (various polymers).  It can be specifically formulated for use on a particular material, such as steel, aluminum, or titanium.

How is Abrasive Flow Media Formulated?

There are five general steps to the abrasive flow manufacturing process:

  • Selection of the abrasive materials. The first step is selecting the appropriate abrasive material for the job. This decision is usually based on the hardness and composition of a workpiece. Abrasive materials are available in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, densities, and hardness.
  • Selection of the carrier medium. The carrier medium is used to hold the particles or abrasive material and facilitate their flow. Polymers are commonly used as a carrier medium. The carrier medium should have the necessary viscosity, shear thinning characteristics, and stability to suspend the abrasive particles and ensure their uniform flow and distribution.
  • Additives such as lubricants, thickeners, dispersants, and stabilizers can be introduced into the abrasive flow media. These additives can significantly improve the efficiency of the abrasive flow media. For example, lubricants can reduce friction and heat generation, dispersants can help keep abrasive particles suspended in the media, and stabilizers can be applied to control settling or separation.
  • Next comes the formulation process, where the abrasives, carrier medium, and additives are all mixed together. This can be accomplished using special mixers, blenders, and other methods.
  • Once the formulation has been prepared, it undergoes quality testing to assess its suitability. Characteristics such as viscosity, flowability, abrasive concentration, and cutting or polishing efficiency are evaluated. Depending on the results, the abrasive flow media may need to be adjusted or modified.

Custom Formulated Abrasive Flow Media in Pittsburgh, PA

The outcome of any AFM job depends on the abrasive flow media used during the finishing process. Manufacturers all over the Pittsburgh, PA area turn to Deburring & Finishing Technologies for expertly formulated abrasive flow media. They know they can depend on Deburring & Finishing Technologies to deliver abrasive flow media that precisely meet the requirements of their particular job needs.

Let us help you formulate the right abrasive flow media for your application. You can contact Deburring & Finishing Technologies through our website or call us at (412) 849-1522 to learn more about our abrasive flow media and other abrasive flow machining services.