Going Forward with Deburring and Finish Technology

Any textbook on deburring will classify a burr as “a thin ridge of roughness that has been produced during the cutting or shaping of metals or even hard plastics.”

Burrs and edge projections present many types of troubles and concerns for the manufacturing industry. Burrs can be directly related to assembly line interference, increased friction, machine jamming, contaminated assembly areas, and irregular mating surfaces for finished parts.

As manufacturing places a high value on producing parts that feature smooth edges, the deburring process is an essential element in any modern manufacturing plant’s routine maintenance program. Given that the desired output in manufacturing is always a high-quality part and customer satisfaction with the end-product, deburring and finish technologies cannot be overlooked as less important than other manufacturing processes.

The purpose of deburring and edge finishing is to maintain manufactured product consistency – piece after piece – at volume, without incurring unexpected periods of manufacturing downtime to investigate quality and consistency issues. Manufacturing in the modern age relies heavily on speed and part counts. Therefore, it is no surprise that deburring and finishing planning has become part of the manufacturing and maintenance plan before machinery and parts arrive on the
production floor.

Note: It would be remiss not to mention that another significant purpose of deburring and edge finishing is to maintain a high level of safety during the manufacturing process. In manufacturing, burrs can be a significant cause of mechanism jams along the assembly line, as well as cuts and bruises for workers along the line.

There are two things we know about the state of manufacturing technology and the deburring and edge finishing industry. A brief overview follows.

First – The materials in product manufacturing haven’t changed much since the dawn of the industrial-manufacturing age. Metal is, by and large, still metal. Plastics have come a long way in the recent decades (certainly since the 1960s) but the bulk of deburring problems are related to metalwork and related manufacturing. We know that large, complicating burrs cannot form well with brittle materials. The burr tendency for cast iron is particularly low, whereas the burr tendency for 2024 aluminum (commonly used in aircraft construction) is medium, and 18-8 chrome-nickel steel (soft and ductile) is much higher. Since the materials in manufacturing are not evolving at a fast pace, it is expected that deburring and edge finishing technology will continue to be a part of manufacturing.

Second – Until manufacturing can produce a materials handling technology unlike any that we have seen to date, where deburring is all but eliminated due to the fact that machine part or process design virtually eliminates burrs and edge projections, the deburring process will continue to be a part of any routine maintenance plan for the metal (and hard plastic) goods manufacturing industry.

Clearly, the deburring and edge finishing industry will benefit from innovation. These innovations may produce significant savings for the manufacturing industry, but any significant advancement in manufacturing technology will only serve to reduce the size and shape of burrs as they continue to form on parts and pieces along the manufacturing line.