Many different steps are necessary in order to manufacture and prepare a product for market. There is design, prototyping, and creation of parts, assembly and finishing. Polishing is part of the finishing process, one of the last steps before the product is shipped to the end consumer. It can be defined as creating a smooth or shiny surface on an object by rubbing with abrasives or through the action of chemicals.
Any part that needs a smooth finish requires polishing. Most manufacturing processes leave the unfinished part rough cast metal parts are a good example. Through polishing, these parts are rendered ready for use by the removal of any rough spots, flashing or additional unwanted material. An item that needs a glossy or reflective finish should be polished. Stone for public display use, like building cladding or tombstones, is usually polished to enhance its appearance. Polishing work is also very important in the jewelry trade as a final finishing step.
Nearly any substance is capable of being polished. Woodworking is an excellent example the finished item is generally coated with varnish or lacquer, then polished with a soft cloth to bring out the shine. Designers must consider the final use of the item when specifying materials, and indicate the need for polishing work in the blueprints or part specifications. Polishing is usually done after final assembly, though some components like optical lenses are polished and finished before being incorporated in the completed product.