In the early 1900's, founder George E. Abbott experimented with steel balls to burnish a bright finish on small metal parts. During the early stages of the process, steel balls were the only shape available. However, a sphere cannot reach into a corner. Nor can it touch on surfaces, grooves or recesses smaller than the ball diameter. Consequently, pronounced lines of demarcation were apparent on some parts, where surfaces with which the balls could not make contact received no finishing action.
Formed Shapes Add Versatility to Process
Abbott Steel Media has since evolved in engineering sophistication and range of finishing applications. New steel media shapes, improved metallurgy and manufacturing, extensive research, better compounds and finishing equipment have all expanded the boundaries within which steel media is used.
New Applications Bring New Ideas
Balls, and even the later cones, could not reach into the filigrees or engravings on silverware or other detailed parts. These designs required a pointed object to achieve an overall finish. Thus, pins were developed in double-pointed sizes to reach into these intricate areas. The resultant ball, cone, and pin mixture is common for finishing a variety of detailed components.
And New Shapes
Other specialized shapes were later developed to secure surface contacts on irregularly shaped pieces. These shapes include diagonals (a cylindrical steel section with each end cut off at a slant); ball-cones (which differ from the cone in that one side is a cone and the other a half-ball); and ovalballs (a football-shaped piece that provides wider area contacts than a ball, and somewhat more vigorous tumbling action because of its elongated shape).