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Quick Tips for Saving Money on Cross-Hole Deburring

May 20, 2021
Even with the best equipment on hand, some defects can be challenging to remove — even more so if you’re trying to be cost-efficient.

Thanks to technological advancements, automated machining has become remarkably reliable and effective. But one issue that stems from processing so many components and materials so quickly remains to be resolved.

It doesn’t matter if you’re cutting parts with a handheld plasma torch or a precise laser. Some edges will come out dangerous or rough. Sometimes, burrs, sharp edges, and minor defects can occur, especially in cross-drilled holes. Even with the best equipment on hand, those defects can be challenging to remove — even more so if you’re trying to be cost-efficient.

That’s a spot for cross-hole deburring, a reliable surfacing and finishing technique that helps remove blemishes and defects, like burrs. When it’s implemented as an autonomous process, it’s called integrated deburring.

Automation is on the rise, too. The global automatic deburring machine market is expected to reach a value of $599.7 million by 2026, up from $486.5 million in 2020.

Deburring improves the functionality and quality of components as well as the finished products. It also makes parts safer to handle, as removing the ragged and sharp edges lowers the risk of injury for operators. Here are some quick tips on saving money on cross-hole deburring processes.

1. Consider Manual Deburring. Admittedly, manual or hand deburring can be time-consuming and laborious. For that reason, it’s best for smaller operations with limited capital. Operator fatigue, as well as machine and motion injuries, can occur frequently, too, so bear that in mind.

Hand deburring can be more cost-effective than purchasing or installing automated equipment. The machining costs for advanced and modern gear can be high, so adding a manual process will help reduce some of those expenses. It’s a step backward in smart and efficient manufacturing, however.

2. Integrated Deburring. Because there are several types of deburring — mechanical, thermal, and electrochemical — most outfits send components or parts to third parties to have them finished. This adds time to the production cycle and reduces some of the quality controls manufacturers have over their products.

A more efficient strategy is to integrate deburring into regular operations with automated deburring machines. The equipment can be expensive, and it’s a big step, especially for smaller shops, but deburring is such a crucial part of machining that the investment will just about always pay off.

Automatic deburring machines can finish and remove defects much faster than any human operator, and they do it much more effectively, as well. Parts end up with a smooth and safe finish, free of bumps, ragged edges, debris, and more.

3. Start Using Cutting Fluids. During cutting, grinding, or boring processes, defects naturally will appear because of pressure, friction, and heat. By incorporating cutting fluids into these steps, you can cut down on later work.

This has the added benefit of allowing deburring machines to run longer because the fluids reduce heat and tension. While working over an extended period, deburring operators have to shut down their machines to let them cool, even if air-cooling systems are in place.

Cutting fluids — in the form of oils, gels, aerosols, and pastes — cut down on some of the issues that arise during the machining process, reduce heat, and improve efficiency. What’s more, you can use it to push CNC machines to the limit, which are designed for high-power and high-efficiency work.

4. Eliminate or Join Processes. It’s not always necessary to separate the various machining processes. For example, you can both finish and deburr a product using the same equipment. By separating these two steps, you’re adding unnecessary work and extending the production cycle.

Of course, some machines can handle only one task at a time, so it’s something you need to plan for when designing the shop layout.

Consider what processes you can combine or simplify, and then swap out the equipment as needed. You might be able to replace two different machines and two separate processes with a single, high-functioning piece of gear.

5. Use the Right Machine for the Task. Deburring machines come in all shapes and sizes, and they have varying applications. A brush-based deburring machine is going to work differently than a belt machine.
Brush: These machines use rotating brush heads that are gentler on surface coatings and pre-finished components. They remove burrs and defects by buffing them out, essentially.
Disc: These machines remove defects through high-speed rotating pads, and they’re best for small, fragile parts. They don’t create a lot of stress, so parts are less likely to fracture or shatter.
Belt: Attached to a large drum, the belt head rotates and removes burrs and sharp edges. If not used carefully, they can shave down material or surfaces.

Some materials are better suited to a particular deburring machine because of their grain size, strength, or other properties. It’s important to choose the right machine for the job. When you don’t, there’s a higher likelihood you’ll damage the part or product -- or create more work for yourself.

Using a disc or belt-head deburring machine on a pre-painted part, for example, will reverse most of the work by stripping the finish. A brush-head deburring machine would be the better choice, as it’s gentler on the surface coating.

6. Mitigate Burrs Through Design. Another excellent strategy is to design parts and choose materials that help reduce burrs, ragged edges, and particles. Think about ways you can mitigate issues with smarter and more thoughtful designs. Placing holes on a side or open piece of a part makes it easier to remove defects.

If you find your team is having a difficult time machining through specific threads or parts, it might be beneficial to go back to the drawing board. Redesigning the part or shifting the holes, threads, and other elements can save time and money in the long run.

Like any machining process, there are more efficient ways to do the work. By mitigating burrs and defects through thoughtful designs, using the correct gear for the job, and incorporating cutting fluids, you’ll be well on your way to reduced costs.

You also can combine processes, reducing work and production cycles, or employ automated deburring machines to integrate the work into your existing operations.

Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine exploring the latest industrial innovations.

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