The material is T304 stainless steel tubing. The desired finish is a mirror polish. The application is an exhaust tip, probably hundreds of them.
I polish aluminum all the time. I've tried stainless and the end result looks like raw 6061. What's the proper method for polishing stainless steel? Compounds, tools, RPMs, etc?
Thanks for your help PM,
I get good results with Dico stainless steel buffing compound on a hard cotton wheel. It works on chrome plate and hardened steel, too.
Evan, are you using the proper compound? Doesn't sound like it if your finish is looking like raw aluminum stock. Sounds like it's not cutting. You know you can't use the same compound you use for polishing the aluminum, right?
Order prepolished tubing, then, after you do whatever you gotta do to it, have it electropolished, then buff it.
I have all my electropolishing done by these guys who make railings from stainless tubing for 25 Million Dollar Yachts- and thats what they do.
You can get stainless tubing prepolished, comes wrapped in plastic. Then, if you weld or machine it, you have it electropolished, and any worked areas come back up to shiny.
Pro's use powered, dedicated polishing rigs- giant belt sanders with loose belts, essentially.
You got to start off with wet-n-dry paper ...
depending on how badly its surface is ...
start off with the wet-n-dry grade that is apropiet...may be as low as 100 grade
so to start ...just say 180 grit ..is suitable to get the creators and and scratches out.
abrade all over ...
move on to 240
abrade all over
abrade all over
abrade all over
if you have one,you can use a DA sander with these.
after this stage if you have a proper buffer set-up ...you can move on to the metal polishing soaps like tripoli....better still white stainless steel soap
if you don't have the buffing machine ...
then it's 1000 grade followed by 1200 followed by a tube of metal polish such as solvol autosol.
expect it to take a long time ....miss any of the stages above and it will show in the final appearance.
All the best...mark
The problem I see with mechanical polishing from 180 grit up thru 1200 and metal polish is that the competition is retailing these for 50 bucks. (And those are the pricey ones- Borla has some for as low as 23$)
Which means the wholesale price is around 25.
Take away the actual labor cost of cutting and machining and welding, the material cost, profit and overhead costs, and you end up with an allowance of about 3 bucks for polishing.
Especially if he starts out with mill scale on the tubing, hand sanding em is gonna take way too much time and cost way too much even if he is paying illegal immigrants 5 bucks an hour.
If this is some kind of specialty market, where he can get $150 or $200 each, then it would work, but the accessory exhaust tip market is pretty competitive, with tubing od being the only real reason why they are not interchangeable between cars- and I would bet you dollars to donuts that Gibson and the other big manufacturers are electropolishing theirs- there is just no way you could do 50 bucks retail otherwise.
bang em on the lathe between centres.....old-beat-up-lathe that is ...(abrasives !!!)
and you could get the process down in time that way ...
bepending how large ...and what size they are .
For an exhaust tip, buy mirror polished stock, form without marring , weld, done. Design with the weld on the bottom.
Yep, wasn't paying attention to the "hundreds" part, if you're producing these...Ries is right.
I would look into high impact tumbling AKA harperizing. The process looks like the cars on a ferris wheel rotating individually and as an assembly. Like the planet gear in an overdrive set up.
I would look at this company: http://www.massfin.com/
They could process your parts or set you up with a vendor, or sell you a machine. They will process a sample for you at no cost. I have used them and the company I worked for bought their machines. I do not know how large your parts are, but 3.00 seems ballpark.
Find someone who does electro polishing. It's easy & gets as good as you want it to get. Not too difficult to do but you have to have chemicals around. Basically your taking the high spots off the past (tool marks) till they're gone & the part finish keeps getting better.