Tumbler Innovations - Bring out your Elon Musk


Innovation in Tumbling

As in many industries and activities people are always looking to disrupt the Way things are done. Tumbler Technology is no different. Users contact us with great questions about tumbling that show there is always a need to innovate. When they come up with thoughts like "what would happen if you double the speed of the tumbler?" Not a super great idea, but it indicates the heart you have to have when trying to make a change. You've got to shake it up!

Tumbler science has not really changed in decades. The methods have stayed the same. Areas of progress probably will occur in barrel design and implementation of sensors that regulate tumbler time and state to tailor tumbling time and rock progress. 

Crazy Funny Experiments

There is always going to be the guy who fills a coffee can with rocks, taped really well of course. And attaches it to one of the wheels of his car and drives to Detroit. This is not advised and actually disastrously dangerous. Then there is the woman who decides to use her clothes dryer as a tumbler. Just dumps the rocks right in there. Well I think you can imagine the results. Again not a great idea, probably voids that appliance warranty as well. But the point still stands, what can be changed?

Looking at the Potential

Looking at the changes in areas like space travel and automobiles it is obvious that there can be incredible alteration in the way we make rough rocks glossy and beautiful.  You can probably be as well positioned to make a contribution or even a first hand invention that revolutionizes the way we tumble. Play around with the tools and make lots of experiments. You could create the Tesla of Tumblers.

Frontier of Innovation

One of the biggest frontiers in the development of the rock tumbling industry, and the abrasives processing industry in general, is the acceleration of processing times. It is almost unacceptable, while at the same time miraculous, to think that the tumbling process can take a month or more. It is also miraculous considering that the time it takes for the same effects to occur to materials is measured in decades and centuries. 

What can be done to speed up this process. Looking at the most obvious solution at hand we concentrate on the incidence of abrasive action. This means that for any given electric machine rotating a barrel there is a set amount of cycles per amount of time. If the activity in each cycle is the same, increasing the amount of cycles over time will increase action and therefore shorten the process time.

Is Acceleration the Answer?

Can we do this safely and without harmful effects? And if we can do it how much can we speed the rotation time. Looking at the limits of the tumbler motors and the makeup of the machines it is not unlikely that they could tolerate a doubling of cycle speed with minor motor and transmission modifications for heat and other moving part friction matters.  The tumbler machinery is not the bottleneck in the experiment here. 

It all comes down to the fragile nature of the rocks.  Acceleration will cause a more forceful collision of each rock onto another and this can fracture the rocks. As you speed the revolutions of the tumbler you increase the chance of massive impact on the rocks. This will result in a much lower yield of rocks. Can anything soften the impact. We do sell cushioning spacer pellets.

They are effective but not for a doubling of revolutions in the tumbler because there will still be rock on rock collisions and these will be at a much higher power than usual.

It really comes down to a matter of precise delivery or abrasive action on each of the rocks without collisions. and this leads more to investigating air jet and water jet delivery of abrasives targeted on the stationary pieces as is done in industrial blasting. Here we are faced with supervising the application and therefore coordinating the exact area of applications. This becomes a labor intensive management nightmare that surely has no payoff to save some time and shorten the tumbling process.

We conclude that we are left with exploring small changes, tiny tweaks to the process. With large data pools of logged results shared by many users we can reach some valid rules about what methods work and how they can be adapted to given types of rock. This experimental study and research is the most worthwhile avenue of investigation.


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