The Evolution of Robot-Based Deburring

Deburring is essential to ensure that metal products achieve uniformity and are free from errors. However, it can be an arduous and time-consuming process without the usage of robotic automation technology. To learn more, here is an overview of why deburring is so integral, the methods performed, and how it has evolved over time.

Why Are Deburring Processes Important?

It is common for metals to produce burrs when they are cut, which are unintended rough edges that remain afterward. These deformations come in several different forms, but two of the most frequent are entrance burrs, which are created when the metal material is displaced away from the direction of the cutting tool, and exit cuts, which are produced when the tool exits the workpiece. Burrs can be found on a wide range of metal products, including stamped parts and those that were plasma cut. 

Regardless of what kind of burr forms, its presence can impair the quality of the material and final product. These imperfections can negatively affect the tolerance of the fitted parts or even change the dimensions of the machined surface, putting the lives of human operators at risk. 

As a result, deburring has become a necessary process to ensure the quality of metal parts, and in turn, numerous methods have arisen over the years to deburr metal materials and smoothen them out.

Methods of Deburring

Burr sizes can vary greatly depending on the size of the metal cutter, the speed it operates, and other factors. This has led to the creation of large and small burrs and, in turn, varying deburring methods to remove them. While larger burrs may require further machining or cutting to remove, smaller burrs only need to be brushed with a file, abrasive brush, or special cloth.

One of the tools used for small burrs is the whirligig, which is handheld and has a sharp carbide hook-shaped tool that shaves away the edge of a burr. However, improper or overly aggressive use can cause the whirligig to make the material appear bitten or chewed. Some circumstances call for the use of a knife, file, or stone to scrape off the burr, while others utilize water jets or lasers. For machined parts with high tolerance, more precise deburring tools are needed.

Robotic Deburring

Many industries have found that robotic automation is the best deburring method. Whereas manual deburring can require decades of experience to perform correctly, robotic deburring technology utilizes rotary motor-driven grinding and abrasive wheels to achieve consistent precision. This benefit eliminates the need to find workers who are qualified for the position.

When using robotic arms instead of tiring and inconsistent human arms, there are many ways to automate the deburring process. Some deburring tools they can use are as simple as sandpaper, but the most up-to-date tools are abrasive brushes. While brushes with Nylon bristles have been used for several decades, contemporary brushes have plastic bristles with an embedded abrasive. This has allowed for more advanced deburring control that was previously impossible with other techniques.

Contemporary Advancements in Deburring

Numerous improvements have been made to deburring tools over the years. One such advancement is the creation of the ceramic fiber brush, which is molded or pultruded from with continuous fiber and has customizable abrasive grit and grain sizes. Other new developments in brush technology have been spearheaded by the Sowa Kasei company of Japan, whose Stonebrush product offers a spindle-based solution thanks to its simplistic design.

With more companies implementing robotic automation into their deburring processes, innovations continue to take form. For example, advancements in technology have allowed robotic arms to replicate human touch sensitivity, motion, and visual feedback, meaning companies won’t have to sacrifice human sensitivity to become automated. However, just because the technology is growing more complicated, it doesn’t mean that it’s becoming harder to use. Instead, new software and interfaces have made the technology more accessible and easier to operate than ever before.

For more information on robotic automation for deburring, reach out to Reliabotics today. Our engineers have developed a wide assortment of products, such as our surface prep technologies, to assist your industry’s operations.

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