Process flow

By Lauren Duensing

Above: An operator sets new parameters to start processing materials on the EdgeBreaker 4000 Plus.

Automated deburring increases part consistency and quality

May 2018 - By definition, burrs are rough and prickly. In the plant world, a burr is a spiky seed pod that can catch on anything that passes by—clothes, animals, vehicle tires—and some have hooks large enough and sharp enough to cause injury or damage. They are so sticky that they were the inspiration for hook-and-loop fasteners such as Velcro. For metal processing applications, burrs are similarly destructive, piercing into uncovered skin and gumming up machinery. If burrs are not removed, they can create time-consuming production backups.

Nicholas Miller, vice president and general manager at Cincinnati-based Arku Inc., a manufacturer of sheet metal processing machines, says that “even something as simple as material handling will become a big issue” if parts have large burrs and sharp edges.

“Workers can cut their hands, or the material can damage various metal processing machines, like a bending machine or a precision leveler,” he says. “This damage to downstream equipment can lead to downtime, which will hold up production and factor back into rising production costs.”

In addition, parts typically cannot be properly welded before burr removal “because the parts will not fit together as they are supposed to—seamlessly with no gaps.”

FFJ 0518 deburring image1

This part was dual-side processed with the EdgeBreaker 4000 (grinding and rounding on the top and grinding on the bottom).

Manual vs. automated

Many companies still deburr, round edges and remove slag by hand with angle grinders. However, if they process a large variety or quantity of parts, automated deburring machines “work much faster, increase the quality of the parts, deliver consistent high-quality results and the workplace becomes much cleaner because the deburring machine is connected to a dust extraction unit,” Miller says.

The shop floor also is safer because parts have fewer sharp edges that can cut into the hands and limbs of employees. Lastly, automation eliminates the danger and costs of grinding media associated with angle grinding.

Arku offers four models in its EdgeBreaker series of dual-sided deburring machines—the 4000, 4000 Plus, 2000 and 2000 Plus. “The EdgeBreaker 4000 is mainly used for fiber laser-, plasma-, and oxyfuel-cut materials,” Miller says. It has a grinding drum that spins and oscillates to remove bigger burrs and heavy slag.

The EdgeBreaker 2000 caters to laser-cut, stamped or punched materials, Miller continues, noting that both the 2000 and 4000 will remove burrs and round edges. Each model has an automatic calibration feature to measure the length of the grinding media and compensate for wear automatically, making it easier to maximize consumables’ lifespan before having to switch them out for new ones.

The EdgeBreaker promotes a more consistent result because it has no deflection when it comes to the grinding/rounding media. “The grinding/rounding blocks run on a fully supported track,” which extends their useful life, Miller says. The EdgeBreaker can adapt to different types of processing, such as rounding edges and grinding from the bottom, because its patented click system makes tool changes as simple as snapping them in and out. “There are no tools required to change the grinding media,” Miller says. “The grinding belt for the drum can be changed within two minutes by one person. The entire set of grinding and rounding blocks can also be changed by one person in approximately 15 minutes.”

No matter how familiar operators are with a machine, they are susceptible to mistakes. The EdgeBreaker addresses operator error by offering a tool storage feature, which collects and saves the processing parameters of thousands of parts in the control module. A barcode scanner feature can be implemented to further reduce operator error and ensure consistent part quality.

“With the barcode scanner, you can assign each part or type of part a unique barcode, saving the settings in the tool storage of the machine,” Miller says. “You can disable anything in the operator menu besides having to change the speeds of the conveyor. The operators see Part B coming their way, they scan the Part B barcode, the machine will automatically adjust to the corresponding parameters, and you’re set to start processing safely.”

FFJ 0518 deburring image2

The EdgeBreaker 4000 grinding drum and upper and lower carousel, which are interchangeable with grinding or edge-rounding blocks.

Configuration considerations

As companies move ahead with automated deburring, they must determine how to  integrate the machine into their current operations. Miller recommends that shops figure out the most cost-effective way to arrange material flow.

Arku suggests the answer is to have parts delivered to the deburring machine following the shortest path possible, “which will require proper planning to avoid long transfer times,” because each extra step taken by an employee costs money,” Miller says.

Arku will consult with clients to organize and arrange their manufacturing processes in the most effective way possible. Most of the time, companies feed materials to the deburring machine right after they’ve been cut. “Sometimes that isn’t possible because of space constraints,” Miller explains. “Larger working areas are expensive, and … reorganizing workflow also can be expensive.”

Automatic deburring machines can be paired with other equipment to further refine parts and processes. Some customers that run multiple materials and volumes purchase both the EdgeBreaker 2000 and 4000. Others combine a deburring machine with a precision leveler to achieve a product that is “burr free and edge rounded as well as being leveled and stress relieved,” Miller says.

“A further combination is a triple-linked line. We start out with a robot that loads the deburring machine. After the parts are deburred and edge rounded, they are fed into a precision leveler, which levels and stress relieves the parts, and then they are measured with a flatness measuring device, Arku’s FlatJack, at the end.”

The FlatJack measures parts while they are still on the conveyor, which can be particularly useful for bigger, hard-to-handle materials that are difficult to lift and move to a flatness table.

“This whole system deburrs and edge rounds, levels, stress relieves and confirms the flatness,” Miller says. “Then with the FlatJack at the end, we can type in a tolerance. If the material is not within that tolerance, the FlatJack will signal it as a red flag, and it will sort the good materials from the bad ones automatically.”

As more shops move toward smart factory technologies, machines working in tandem help them contain costs, achieve quality standards and vastly improve production speed.

“One EdgeBreaker customer of ours used to spend an average of 64 hours to manually deburr and edge round approximately 11 tons of materials,” Miller says. “After purchasing the EdgeBreaker, the company was able to process the same amount of materials in just 10 hours, using fewer consumables.” FFJ



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