Abstract In the present study, an optimization strategy based on desirability function approach (DFA) together with response surface methodology (RSM) has been used to optimize ball burnishing process of 7178 aluminium alloy. A quadratic regression model was developed to predict surface roughness using RSM with rotatable central composite design (CCD). In the development of predictive models, burnishing force, number of passes, feed rate and burnishing speed were considered as model variables. The results indicated that burnishing force and number of passes were the significant factors on the surface roughness. The predicted surface roughness values and the subsequent verification experiments under the optimal conditions were confirmed the validity of the predicted model. The absolute average error between the experimental and predicted values at the optimal combination of parameter settings for surface roughness was calculated as 2.82%.