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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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Mike Zinger
May 7, 2020
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March 23, 2020
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