Today, the automotive industry is an advanced and highly-competitive manufacturing and technology sector that requires frequent revalidations of their manufacturing process design for continual safety and process improvement.
Deburring, of course, plays a valuable role in any manufacturing process. Over the many decades – since the time when the American automobile industry first began and the Duryea Brothers, Ransom Olds, the Jeffery Company, and Henry Ford began putting numbers of automobiles in production – the automobile manufacturing industry has greatly benefitted from the development and advancement of deburring and related technologies. But what was surely a wholly in-house manufacturing industry back in the early days, where each auto part was fabricated on-site for assembly at a later time (often under the same roof), has become an industry of many parts-providers working to supply the needs of Big Auto.
As many auto assembly processes require parts outsourced to third-party companies, the deburring of those parts is a challenge for small contract manufacturers. These small manufacturing groups are tasked with turning out a large number of parts on a regular demand – a contract, no doubt, that each parts manufacturer relishes greatly.
The call for deburring processes at each of these parts suppliers for Big Auto typically relates to powdered metal parts pressed into a wide variety of shapes that are used in many automotive and fluid power applications. The need for deburring in this industry concerns overall finished product quality, individual part aesthetics, safety (especially with edges and fittings), as well as functionality and operation of all working parts. As a result, many (if not all) of these third-party automotive parts require deburring on both sides and on all edges to ensure that there is no interference in part fitting, scratches on mating surfaces, plating build-up at edges, or edge craters or other symptoms of non-smooth edges. Obviously, when valuable automotive industry contracts are on the line, it is in the best interest of the parts provider to only deliver parts that are free from burrs and shavings on seams and edges.
In a high-production environment, many automotive parts manufacturers have moved from manual deburring processes – where the deburring of each part utilized a nylon disc brush and was hand-flipped by an operator – to processes that make use of robotic loading, where each part is simultaneously brushed on both upper and lower edges via large-diameter radial brushes that approach the spindle-clamped part on two axes. These modern deburring machines are generally self-contained so that coolant may be applied throughout the process. And due to the specific nature of this high-quantity parts production environment, variable-speed brush motors allow best optimization of the process to accommodate different parts.
In the end, improved product quality, reduced process downtime, and increased output are all real benefits to deburring in the automotive parts manufacturing industry.