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bauxite ore, used in the production of metallic aluminum

Abrasive flow machining (AFM) is a finishing process that uses abrasive media to smooth and deburr a workpiece. AFM is used in many applications across a wide range of industries. The process provides many advantages, including:

  • Consistent and precisely controlled material removal.
  • Accurate and repeatable results.
  • Greatly reduced surface roughness and improved surface finishes.
  • Shorter cycle times.
  • More cost-effective than other finishing processes.

Parts deburred using the AFM process are safer, perform better, and last longer. It’s ideal for parts with complex geometries and internal passages that may be impossible to reach using other finishing processes. AFM is also very versatile – abrasive flow media can be specially formulated to remove burrs and other surface imperfections from metal, plastic, and ceramic workpieces.

The Abrasives in Abrasive Flow Media

The abrasive media is a compound consisting of an abrasive material combined with a polymer carrier medium. Different types of abrasive materials can be used, depending on the composition of the workpiece. Two of the most common abrasives used in the AFM process are aluminum oxide and silicon carbide.

Aluminum Oxide

Aluminum oxide, also known as alumina, is a naturally occurring mineral. It’s found in bauxite, the ore from which aluminum is extracted. Aluminum oxide is a very hard material¬† – 9 on the Mohs scale – and is capable of eroding burrs in metals, ceramics, and other hard materials. It’s also chemically inert, so it doesn’t react with the materials it’s polishing.

Aluminum oxide’s hardness makes it very resistant to wear and tear. This can lower machining costs in the long run, since most aluminum oxide-based abrasive flow media can often be reused for multiple jobs.

Silicone Carbide

Silicon carbide, also known as carborundum, is a compound consisting of silicon and carbon. Although silicon carbide is very rare in its natural form (a mineral called moissanite), it’s been manufactured for use as an abrasive and other applications since the late 1800s. Silicon carbide has a hardness comparable to that of diamonds, making it an excellent choice for an abrasive material.

In addition to the abrasive media, several other factors need to be considered when formulating an abrasive flow media. These include the size and density of the abrasive material, fluid viscosity, media flow rate, and workpiece composition.

Abrasive Flow Media in Pittsburgh

Deburring & Finishing Technologies is a leading provider of abrasive flow media in Pittsburgh, PA. We’ve been producing high-quality abrasive hone media for a wide range of local industries such as aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics, medical, and firearms since 2009. Our precisely formulated extrude hone media provides the accurate, high-precision finishes today’s high-tech manufacturers demand.

We offer more than 50 different types of abrasive flow media available in various grit sizes, shapes, densities, hardness, etc. We have the capabilities to re-engineer our abrasive flow media to match the unique demands of your AFM job. (You can speak with our engineering team for more details.)

Deburring & Finishing Technologies is here to fulfill your abrasive flow machining needs. Contact us through our website or call us at (412) 849-1522. Our team of highly experienced engineers and specialists is here to help you find the right abrasive flow media for your job.