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Smooth operations

By Lauren Duensing

Prepping part edges after cutting is an important step, says Lissmac Vice President Ingo Heiland

FFJ-0416-face-lead.jpgQ: Why is it important to prep edges of sheet metal parts after cutting?

Ingo Heiland: All cutting processes, even very smooth processes like waterjet cutting, create sharp edges, burr or slag, which can affect further processing of the parts—especially painting or powder coating. Coatings stick better to a larger surface, so if an edge is rounded, rather than sharp, the powder coating has a better base for adhesion to the part. 

Parts that need a rust-proof surface must have a rounded edge. Lissmac encountered this issue in its construction machinery division. Our edges were rusting and the paint was chipping off. We looked into edge rounding, and we couldn’t find a suitable machine on the market. So, we designed the prototype of the existing line of Lissmac edge rounding machines for our own needs. We also had parts run through a 240-hour salt spray test, and the outcome was impressive. A rounded edge before coating helps keep the parts from rusting. 

In addition, sharp edges are a health and safety issue. Operators need to touch the parts and can cut themselves. Also, if wires, ropes or lines are going through holes in the workpieces, sharp edges are guaranteed to cause damage. It is necessary to clean and smooth out the edges where something will run through or be touched.  

Q: Will the type of edge preparation differ, depending on the cutting process or material used for the part?

IH: A waterjet-cut part only needs edge rounding because waterjet cutting creates no burr, while lasers, if they are not focused well, can create a nasty burr. Heavy slag after flame cutting needs to be chipped off, and then the edges need smoothing and edge rounding. 

If you have heavy burr or slag from a flame cutter, then you need a different machine that is stronger and more aggressive with multiple heads and different tools. 

On Lissmac machines, the pressure and the feeding speed are the variables that will change the outcome on different materials. With the same machine you can remove a high burr on laser-cut parts and work aggressively on edge rounding or you can just give the part a kiss to break the edge on parts that have a film, paper or foil on them. 

Q: How does prepping the edges of parts affect downstream processes?

IH: The parts can go directly from the machine to the next assembly step, such as the welding booth or the bending machine. The parts are safe to touch, and operators love to handle edge-rounded parts. They don’t receive splinters, cuts or scratches; the parts fit in the welding robot; do not do any damage on press brakes; and do not create any material handling damages. There are a lot of reasons for getting a clean edge, and this is what we try to give customers so they can get more benefit out of the parts.

Q: What do companies need to consider before adding edge preparation capability to their operations?

IH: It’s important to break down the cost for the machines, the cost for the tooling and the cost per part. Price differences often give an incorrect picture: cheap tools that wear down easily are not cheaper than expensive tools. The customer often gets sticker shock when he sees the cost for a set of tools. However, if you break it down to the per-part cost, the more expensive tools are, by far, the more cost-effective option in the long run.

There are all kinds of things you need to keep in mind when you are looking into edge prep machines. We run sample parts for customers at our headquarters here in the Albany area, and return them to the prospective customer with a detailed report, which breaks down the cost per part and the lifespan of the tools. FFJ

Ingo Heiland is vice president of Lissmac Corp., Waterford, New York, www.lissmac-usa.com. Prior to joining the company in 2011, he was general manager at Kuhlmayer, Bad Oeynhausen, Germany, a custom manufacturer of beveling and surface grinding machines.

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