The Dangers of Undetected Burrs

Any dictionary or textbook on the subject of deburring will tell the reader that a burr is a thin ridge or area of roughness that has been produced in the cutting or shaping of metal products (or, in some cases, certain types of plastic). These production burrs, which have plagued the metal-goods manufacturing industry since steel products and edge finishing went into mass production sometime around the 1860s, have long been the cause of many work stoppages due to interferences along the production line and injuries to workers.

In the production environment, many manufacturers and industrial engineers gladly tout “safety first” along every step of their manufacturing or production line. It’s a given that mechanical hazards are a part of every manufacturing or production process. Every point of operation, where blades, bits, or presses are in use, is typically housed behind a guard that keeps all human operator body parts away from danger. This is a line safety preparation that goes into the design of the equipment and process. The on-site safety managers at the plant typically work through any expected safety issues with guidelines set by the equipment manufacturers and any manufacturing engineers at the company.

Experts agree that even a single safety issue – left unaddressed – can potentially cost the company multiple thousands of dollars (per incident) in accidents and injuries that can result in health benefit costs, production downtime, product recall costs, and, in some cases, redesign costs for various parts of the manufacturing or production process.

Many of the common types of injuries and accidents encountered by workers along a metal or hard-plastics manufacturing line (listed below) can be eliminated by simply embedding deburring processes into the overall manufacturing process and anticipating the need and the cost.

Common burr-related injuries and issues along the manufacturing line:

  • Cuts on worker hands or arms
  • Jammed mechanisms
  • Unnecessary wear on moving parts
  • Electrical machine short circuiting or burn-out
  • Cut wires from moving metalwork
  • Plating build-up on edges
  • Edge fractures

Deburring is a process that should be accepted by every metals manufacturing company in the world, especially given that the demand for metal goods is in alignment with the rising global economy. The product-specific benefits of deburring include consistency of product quality, reliable production numbers, and the limiting of production downtime. The human-specific benefits include the elimination of environmental, safety, and health concerns.

In the end, the detection and elimination of burrs in manufacturing is a vital part of any process design in a production assembly. Deburring is a procedure that helps to provide a safe, flexible, and efficient system that results in increased productivity. Preparing for burrs and having a deburring method in place serves both the human factor and the mechanical factor, making the manufacturing or production process not only sustainable but safer and more productive in every respect.