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5 Metal Manufacturing Flaws Vibratory Finishing can Fix

Metal fabrication and manufacturing has come a long way. Today, we have technology capable of cutting, bending, and assembling huge quantities of metal parts for thousands of applications.

 

However, despite much refining over the years, manufacturing processes are not flawless. Metal parts often come off the line with problems in the form of sharp edges, rough surfaces, and protruded metal burrs in corners and edges.

 

These are some of the metal manufacturing flaws vibratory finishing can fix.

 

metal finishing 2

 

Metal Burrs

 

Some burrs are too small to see with the naked eye, or fix manually. While these flaws don’t necessarily render a part non-functional, they can compromise both the integrity and appearance of the part. Other burrs are large and firmly attached to the piece, requiring aggressive mechanical force to remove.

 

There are three main types of metal burrs vibratory finishing can fix:

 

  1. Roll-over burr: One of the most prominent types of burrs, a roll-over burr is an unwanted piece of material at the end of a cut. Roll-over burrs form when material is pushed out of the tool’s path instead of being sheared off. They are more likely to occur on pliable or ductile metals, like copper, especially when the cutting edge is dull.
  2. Poisson burr: Named for Poisson’s ratio, a Poisson burr occurs when metal bulges outward under the strain of the cutting tool, creating a raised edge rather than a smooth cut. It often appears when turning or drilling a piece.
  3. Tear burr: As the name implies, a tear burr is material that tears loose from the workpiece. A dull blade is a common culprit of tear burrs, as the metal wraps around the dull corner and tears. Tear burrs most often occur in punching operations.

 

Vibratory finishing finds the metal parts processed in a bowl or tub along with an abrasive media (ceramic, plastic, or steel). As the machine vibrates, the media continuously rubs against the part to remove the burrs. Since it does not involve barrel tumbling, vibratory finishing is ideal for softer metals.

 

Roughness

 

Rough surfaces on metal parts are more difficult to clean than smooth ones. Additionally, if the part needs any kind of surface treatment (such as plating, paint, or chemical coating), it will require more material to achieve the desired coating thickness. Vibratory finishing can smooth out the surface for a burnished finish, almost resembling the appearance of polished metal.

 

Sharp Edges

 

Shearing metal often produces sharp points or edges. These areas can pose a hazard to the people who handle the parts, especially when working in close quarters and high-traffic areas. Sharp corners of conductive metals also tend to concentrate electrical charge, increasing the risk of the part creating unwanted static discharge. Vibratory finishing breaks these edges to create a uniform finish that is easier to handle and less prone to malfunction.

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5 Ways to Remove Sharp Edges and Burrs from Metal Parts

In an industrial setting, metal pieces aren’t always ready for use right off the assembly line. Deburring is a necessary step in the manufacturing process for many metal components. There are a number of ways to remove sharp edges and burrs from metal parts, including vibratory finishing and barrel tumbling.

 

What is Metal Deburring?

 

Manufacturers employ a variety of machining operations to turn metal blanks into useable parts. These methods, which include welding, milling, grinding, shearing, and engraving, often leave the seams and edges of metal parts with rough edges or protrusions of material. These imperfections are known as burrs, and the process of removing them is called deburring.

 

In addition to being unsightly, metal burrs have a negative impact on the safety, functionality, and overall quality of the parts. Small notches can cause moving parts to catch, increasing the chance for accidents or unnecessary production delays. Sharp edges pose a safety hazard to both workers and end consumers who handle the parts. The presence of burrs can also interfere with the application of other finishing processes, such as powder coating and electroplating.

 

Left alone, metal burrs can create potentially costly issues for manufacturers. Metal deburring is essential to ensure the quality and functionality of metal parts.

 

 

Ways to Remove Sharp Edges and Burrs

 

There are many processes for metal deburring. Five of the most common deburring methods are manual deburring, electromechanical deburring, thermal deburring, vibratory finishing, and barrel tumbling.

 

  1. Manual deburring: A skilled craftsperson can remove burrs by hand using specialized manual deburring tools. Manual deburring is flexible and cost-effective, but it requires a significant investment of time, making it unsuitable for finishing a large quantity of parts.
  2. Thermal energy method: Also known as the thermal deburring, this method uses a combustive reaction to burn away burrs in a sealed chamber. Thermal deburring can quickly target burrs on multiple surfaces and many pieces at once.
  3. Electromechanical deburring: Metal burrs can be dissolved using an electrical current combined with a salt or glycol solution. Electromechanical deburring is useful for small, precision pieces that require deburring in hard-to-reach places.
  4. Vibratory finishing: For softer metals parts, vibratory finishing is a less aggressive but highly efficient deburring method. Vibratory finishing involves placing the part in a rotating barrel or vibrating bowl along with a mix of liquid and abrasive components, such as ceramic, plastic, or steel finishing media. As the machine rotates, the media continuously rubs against the part in a corkscrew motion to remove sharp edges and other metal imperfections.
  5. Barrel tumbling: The parts are placed in a tumbling barrel, which rotates at high speed to brush the pieces together and achieve the desired finish. In addition to deburring, barrel tumbling can be used to de-flash, de-scale, clean, or remove rust from metal parts.

Choosing a Deburring Method

 

Each metal deburring method has advantages and drawbacks depending on the type of metal, the size and shape of the component, and the finish you desire.

 

Manual deburring is rarely feasible in a large-scale industrial setting. Where a manufacturer machines hundreds or thousands of parts each day, vibratory finishing and barrel tumbling are often the most efficient and effective way of removing sharp edges and deburring. By choosing the proper method and the correct deburring media, you can clean or deburr a massive number of parts in a relatively short period.

 

Latem Industries is a trusted mass metal finisher for industries across Ontario. We’ll help you choose the deburring method that best suits your needs.

 

 

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Tim Keane
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December 13, 2017
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