Vibratory Finishing Instructions
Cutting and Polishing Cycles
All finishing involves three basic steps; grinding, cut down and polishing. The grinding is highly selective and requires intelligence-- you have to understand where to grind and when to stop. This step must be down manually and is generally accomplished with a Shor MX wheel and a Shor drum sander while requiring some intelligent decision making, grinding (when done with a Shor MX wheel and Shor drum sander) requires only seconds per piece of jewelry.
Cut-down and polishing are different. These procedures can be accomplished almost entire by automatic means such as vibratory finishing.
It is very important to do remove all burs, pimples, sprues and other major surface imperfections before vibratory finishing. Vibratory finishing preserves detail, but the machines are stupid and don't know the difference between detail and flaw. So be sure to clean up your pieces before vibratory finishing them.
Cut-down, the tripoli operation, smoothes the jewelry, removing grinding marks and prepares the piece for polishing. In vibratory finishing, the jewelry comes out from the cut-down operation looking very dull but very smooth. This procedure takes about 8 hours and requires the use of an abrasive plastic media washed continuously by a fresh water/soap solution. Vibratory cut-down removes only .8% metal in an 8 hour period.
Polishing is a dry cycle using media like Shor rouge impregnated walnut shell vibratory polishing will impart an almost finished shine to the jewelry, requiring only a touch or two to the buffing wheel. Vibratory polishing requires a minimum running time of 24 hours and removes no metal whatsoever.
Setup Procedure for Cut-down
Setup procedures will vary somewhat with different models of vibratory finishers. Whichever model you have chosen, it's vital that you use a good flow-thru system for the cut-down procedure. For models of 1/4 cubic foot or less, use the Shor minivibe flow-thru system. For models of 1/2 cubic foot to 2 cubic feet, use the Shor XQ-30 flow-thru system. For larger systems, use the Shor XQ-50 flo-thru system.
Place your flow-thru system close to the vibratory machine. Insert the hose from the flow-thru system into the cover or side of the vibratory finisher (on some models you may have to drill a hole in the finisher's upper tank or lid to accommodate the hose. Place a bucket or similar container under the drain hose of the finisher. It is absolutely essential that you do not recirculate the water/soap solution that drains from the finisher. If the water/soap solution drains back into the flow-thru system, your jewelry will not run clean and will not be finished properly (and the flow-thru system's pump may be damaged by the sludge).
Check the drain plug of the vibratory machine to insure that it is free of any debris that might clog the drain. Pour Shor vibratory cutting media and jewelry into the vibratory finisher's bowl till they fill the bowl to within 1" of the bowl's lip. The ratio of cutting media to jewelry should be no more than 4:1 by volume. If too much jewelry is added, the pieces will hit against one another causing impingement on the pieces.
Vibratory finishers must always be run full. Partially filled machines will not provide consistent results or satisfactory finishes.
Fill the flow-thru system will water. The larger flow-thru tanks (XQ-30 and XQ-50) should not be moved after they are filled. Water is very heavy and moving the tanks may damage them. Add 1 cup of Shor vibratory soap powder for every 5 gallons of water. Use of soaps not designed for vibratory cutdown will not produce satisfactory results (in particular, do not use burnishing soap). Use of other soaps will void Shor warrantee on its flow-thru systems.
Start the vibratory finisher. Start the flo-thru system. Adjust the flo-thru system's valve for a slow drip on the XQ-10 or a fast drip on the XQ-30 and XQ-50.
The first rule of vibratory finishing is run the bowl full. The second rule is run the media clean. There should be sufficient flow of water/soap solution to keep the media and the work clean. If there is an insufficient flow, everything will gum up. On the other hand, do not have flow of such volume that it can't drain fast enough. There should never be a pooling of water in the bowl. The media and jewelry should move around the bowl like a spiraling donut.
Normal cutdown takes about 8 hours with Shor 1/4 inch plastic pyramids and removes about .1% metal per hour of running time.
There are three ways to separate your jewelry pieces from the media:
- Dump everything out of the bowl and separate it by hand
- Dump everything out of the bowl and separate it using a hand held screen.
- Insert a Shor automatic vibratory separator screen and have the vibrator separate the piece for you.
Make sure the bowl is dry and the drain is securely plugged or covered with tape before pouring in the media. Again the bowl must be run filled and the ratio of media to jewelry must be no less than 3:1 by volume. Vibratory polishing requires a running time of at least 24 hours.
If running for the first time, the media must be "broken in". To break it in, just run the media for at least 24 hours. If you want, you can add the jewelry to the media before it is broken in. However, keep in mind that the media will not even begin to do its polishing job for the first 24 hours, and will not be completed for at least 48 hours. After the first break in period, a running time of only 24 hours is sufficient. Because of the long cycle time in polishing, some manufacturers skip that step and go directly to hand polishing or bombing without running a polishing cycle. (For information on bombing, consult Shor bombing instructions)
As the cutting media works, it abrades the jewelry removing plastic and abrasive from the media and metal from the jewelry. This material is continuously washed clear of the vibratory finisher by the water/soap solution from the flo-thru system. It's deposited in the bottom of the bucket or similar container that catches the water from the vibrator's drain hose.
To recover the precious metal, pour off the excess water, remove the plastic mud and dry it. Burn the plastic mud in a well ventilated area. Separate the precious metal from this burned material using Shor cupels and lead foil
No Such Thing as a Stupid Question
The only stupid question is the question that is not asked. We never stop learning and the best way to learn is to ask questions. Ask us about anything. Most of the major processes used in the jewelry industry were either invented or first introduced into the jewelry industry by Shor. That includes, among other things: the lost wax casting method, modern polishing motors and dust collectors (virtually every system in the world is modeled on the Shor systems), steamers, ultrasonics, vibratory finishing, steamers, visilapping, in-house refining and assaying, diamond faceting, lathe polishing, sand blasting, cast blasting, airscribing, stream dewaxing, electronic temperature controllers, electronic gold and diamond scales and many other products and processes.
So pick our brains, we're happy to answer any questions you may have. We'll even help you with products you have not purchased from Shor. There is no charge or obligation for our assistance. We're here to help - contact technical support or call us at 1-800-295-6320.