Deburring: A Global Manufacturing Concern

In 2007, the United States’ manufacturing output was $1.831 trillion dollars – about 12% of the gross domestic product (or GDP) for the nation. It is easy to see that manufacturing accounts for much of the economic success of the country. It is also easy to see how nations across the globe are likely to compete for manufacturing work, given that it is an easy way to elevate an economy. The manufacturing philosophy is a simple one: turn raw materials into finished goods on a large scale. The demand for consumer goods – especially from emerging markets – has never been higher. In turn, manufacturing capacity, output, and product quality have become a global interest. And as manufacturing interests continue to spread to countries far and wide, deburring has also become a global concern.

Where manufacturing occurs in countries leading the effort (United States, China, Russia, and Japan), deburring accounts for as much in product quality as it does for productivity and output. Deburring concerns would simply disappear if gears, sprockets, camshafts and other similar parts could be produced without burrs or, by some magical process, would operate normally without developing burrs that needed to be trimmed and polished. As experienced designers and manufacturers of deburring equipment, we’ve seen a lot of cases. We’ve yet to see anything that resembles a manufacturing or usage technique that will miraculously eliminate the presence or probability of burrs. Although, it should be noted that there are a number of approaches that will minimize burrs on parts, and this is something that can be discussed in another article. Given that manufacturing is a growing industry with global interests, it should also be noted that manufacturing technologies continue to improve as competing companies pour more funding into research and development.

According to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers – backed by a number of professionals in the deburring industry – there are some 60 different processes for deburring and edge finishing that are commonly used today. Deburring is a routine, expected part of the manufacturing process that is utilized in such diverse industries as automobile and aircraft production, as well as toy manufacturing and the computer parts industry.

Burrs cause quality problems in product parts, impede parts assembly, and undermine finished product appearance and performance. A finished toy may have rough edges that cut or bruise. A safety device may fail at a time of great need. An engine part may grind to a halt and put the driver or occupants at risk on the roadway. As edge quality will continue to be a concern for performance, cost, safety, and appearance of any finished product manufactured anywhere in the world, appropriate deburring is a global manufacturing concern.

If a precise deburring process is applied to the specific need of the industry, the deburring cost can be a fraction of the overall cost of the individual part. If the process is, for some reason, inappropriate to the need of the part and the industry, manufacturers can soon find themselves upside down in parts costs and facing an expensive re-tooling process that involves higher-quality deburring equipment.