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Deburring/Finishing

All about access

By Lynn Stanley

Above: Failure to remove burrs can cause blockage of critical passages or create turbulence in the flow of fluids, lubricants or gases through cross-drilled holes.

Cost-efficient, flexible tool reaches into any groove, hole or slot to create a smooth surface

April 2019 - A burr under the saddle was a phrase coined to describe someone or something that is a constant source of irritation. Manufacturers would no doubt agree with the phrase when it comes to the burrs and sharp edges they find in cross-drilled holes and other difficult-to-access areas, such as undercuts, grooves, slots or internal holes. Deburring the intersections of cross-drilled holes found in engine and transmission components can be especially troublesome. Conventional burr removal is also tedious and time consuming.

“Getting rid of burrs is really important because if there is any loose material that gets dislodged when the product is in use, it can cause major problems,” says Anthony Scott, lead machinist at Orange Vise Co., a manufacturer of machine vises and quick-change fixturing components.

Unwanted material

“The removal of burrs from the production process is an absolute must for high-quality, precision parts,” says Heather Jones, vice president for Brush Research Manufacturing. “In many applications, cross-drilled holes act as conduits for fluids, lubricants and gases. Failing to remove burrs can cause blockage of these critical passages or create turbulence in the flow. Burrs can also lead to part misalignments, affect dimensional tolerances and limit the efficiency of machined components.”

FFJ 0419 deburring image1

Machine burrs created from cross-drilling of intersecting holes. The Flex-Hone removes burrs and sharp edges.

FFJ 0419 deburring image2

Deburring internal passages at cross-holes can be achieved through several techniques, including thermal treatment, abrasive flow, electrochemical and high-pressure water. Although these methods will effectively remove excess material, they require additional time and cost.

Scott says he found the right tool with Brush Research Manufacturing’s Flex-Hone. The technology integrates deburring into an automated process. Flex-Hone provides an effective crosshole deburring tool that allows operators to speed up the manufacturing process and ensure uniform quality for precision parts.

According to Scott, flexible hones smooth edges and produce a blended radius for crosshole deburring. “It is about accessibility because there aren’t really any other tools that can do what a Flex-Hone can,” he claims. “Whether it is internal grooves or multiple crossholes, there is no way to reach those areas with any sort of other tool.”

Orange Vise uses the Flex-Hone with automated production equipment, but it can also be used for secondary deburring options offline.

“For example, the tool can be used in CNC machines and also with a cordless drill,” Scott explains. “So, if you manage to deburr 90 percent of the holes in a machine but have a few left you can’t access easily, you can use it with a handheld drill and maintain the uniformity in surface finish and process.”

For engineers in the automotive, aerospace, manufacturing and machining industries, Flex-Hone’s ball-style tool is a highly specialized abrasive tool.   

Small, abrasive globules are permanently mounted to flexible filaments, making the product especially suited for sophisticated surfacing, deburring and edge blending.

FFJ 0419 deburring image3

The Flex-Hone tool is a cost-effective solution to smooth edges and produce a blended radius for crosshole deburring.

“I used the Flex-Hone quite a bit when I was working in aerospace,” explains Ken Spaulding of Zodiac Engineering, a contract manufacturer in California. “We did a lot of parts that involved tubes with multiple crossholes and slots. Getting inside there to reach the burrs, particularly if the walls were thick, is extremely difficult.”

Spaulding cites the effectiveness of the tool’s abrasive globules, each of which have independent suspension that is self-centering, self-aligning to the bore, and self-compensating for wear. The feature facilitates close-tolerance finishing work.

“The Flex-Hone conforms to whatever you are working with, even if it’s irregular,” he says. “For example, if the back side of the part is not flat or not on a consistent level plane in Z, the tool is flexible enough to still remove any burrs.”

To maintain optimal performance, the deburring tool should be rotated into the main bore into which the crossholes break. After a few clockwise strokes, the tool is removed and the spindle reversed to rotate the flexible hone in a counterclockwise direction for a few more strokes. The forward and reverse rotation creates a symmetrical deburring pattern.  Coolant should be used to keep metal cuttings and deburred metal in suspension.

Drawing on his background in aerospace parts and mold making, Spaulding is focused on creating products of his own design, such as high-end pocket knives and cycling components for BMX road and mountain bikes. He continues to perform contract manufacturing work as well.

Flex-Hone tools are available in sizes ranging from small-diameter hones (4 mm) up to 36-in. or more (a size appropriate for large engine cylinder bores).

BRM will customize its tools in a variety of shapes to meet the requirements of nontraditional applications. This includes spherical-end configurations, stepped or multi-diameter configurations for double diameters and counter-bores, tapered or cone shapes, segmented shapes, or by combining Flex-Hone globules with other filament materials. FFJ

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