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To Deburr by Hand or by Machine

Many manufacturers ponder the pros and cons of implementing a parts deburring process as part of their manufacturing process. One of the discussions that often precedes the implementation of a system or machine is whether to deburr by hand or use mechanical deburring.

Given that deburring has been shown to be a valuable part of many manufacturing processes – by creating a specific outcome that is within a pre-determined set of edge standards – it should be always mentioned that most mechanical processes are able to create a fine level of detail that cannot be measured by the un-aided human eye. Mechanical deburring offers consistency in quality – regardless of how stringent the requirements may be. This is typically where the argument for hand deburring falters. Nevertheless, we’ll look at a few additional arguments to support mechanical equipment and processes.

When it comes to implementing a deburring process – be it hand or mechanical – every manufacturing operations manager will look into the overall cost effectiveness of each type of process. Obviously, if the manufacturer turns out a small quantity of product and does not expect to run the process often, then perhaps a hand-deburring solution is in order. When deciding on a hand solution versus a machine, it is also recommended for the manufacturer to consider the cost savings and benefits of energy and space requirements for both.

On the other side of the argument, however, is the idea that a mechanical system (machinery) that can expedite the process is a cost-saving element in the overall manufacturing process that can scale up with the production during heavier periods of manufacturing and product demand. This naturally leads to another argument for mechanical deburring in that machines – even smaller portable machines – are capable of handling more pieces per hour than their human counterparts. Depending on work piece diameter, a machine can offer cycle times as low as 10 seconds per piece. And self-contained cooling systems prolong tool life and enhance processes. At the same time, a mechanical solution requires no functional or detail-level training. There are a number of deburring machines that are equipped and programmed to handle nearly any type of request – from camshafts to sprockets – with pre-programmed functions and the ability to accommodate robotic loading and unloading of parts. With all the automation that comes from a machine solution, an operator is only required part of the time – allowing the manufacturer to make dual use of the operator’s time and strengthen their overall worker satisfaction with job diversity.

Developing and adhering to a consistent standard in deburring is also easier with a mechanical solution. It is a safe bet that every hand-deburred work piece will vary from piece to piece. Not so with many of the mechanical options.

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