Rough Around the Edges? Deburring Smooths It Over
Machine tooling orders are on an uptick, indicating production is, too. The increase in parts means an increase in burrs, and
we visited a manufacturer of automated deburring machines to see how they work.
by John Hitch
Adam Mutschler always knows when it’s time for a manufacturer’s tool- ing to be replaced. It’s written all over the gears, sprockets, and other
metal pieces sent to his company, Cleveland
Deburring Machine Company. The more burrs,
or excess material left on the part, the less
life the cutting or shaping tool has.
That’s fine by him, as the more burrs the
better for CDMC. The small shop on Cleveland’s industrial west side, which we recently
visited, custom-makes automatic deburring
machines, such as magnetic through-feed
conveyor models, and calibrates them to
smooth even the roughest parts and sharp-est edges, which are created when tooling is
nearing end of service.
“We have to know what’s your worst case
scenario, and work backwards form there,”
says Mutschler, who co-founded the company
with his brother Eric in 2007. “If we don’t
know what that is, and we design this process
around this part that was cut with brand new
tools and babied through the whole process,
what’s going to happen when the tool wears?”
What will happen depends on what the part
is being used for, of course, but it’s usually
nothing good. “Everything is a tighter fit, everything is more precise,” he says.
“For this part, we’re trying to stay under 8/1000 of an inch edge break,” says
Mutschler as he displays one bulky helical
gear. “Anything more than that would be an
CLEVELAND DEBURRING CUSTOM DEBURRING MACHINES
issue for the surface con-
tact of the chain.”
This is a major reason
why automated deburr-
ing has replaced manual.
The obvious risk for hand
injuries not withstanding,
the quality and consis-
tency of a human cannot
match a machine’s.
“Parts may look good
on Monday morning,
but by Friday afternoon
they have spurs all over
them,” Mutschler says.
He adds that human error can deburr too much,
ruining the part and costing time and money.
About 90% of Cleveland Deburring’s customers are Tier 1 and 2 suppliers for the
automotive industry, so it’s vital that its machines can finish flawlessly. For example, an
imperfect helical gear with sharp teeth used
in a cam drive system will eventually wear the
other parts down and throw off the timing.
Current machine cutting machines are capable of removing these sharp and jagged edges
themselves, but any production manager would
rather have their workhorse equipment dedicated to quantity, not quality. The applications
those parts will be used for still demand quality,
creating a double edged sword.
“Deburring is looked at as necessary evil,”
Mutschler says. “It’s not a value added thing.”
From January to October 2017, new orders
for machine tools reached $3.6 billion, a 7.6%
increase over the comparable 2016 period.
More tools, more parts that need to be deburred, hence CDMC is having its busiest time
ever. The family-owned business is booked
solid through at least Q2 of 2018.
Mutschler allowed us to peek inside a recently completed Mag Series to show us how
the magnetic conveyor process works.
First, the part—in this case a seatbelt bracket—is dropped onto the belt. A series of magnets is embedded underneath to hold the
part down. Then a laser sensor measures the
height of the part before it enters the tunnel.
Circular metal brushes of differing grit descend and polish the thin, low profile piece
of stainless steel as it passes through the
Cooling nozzles spray mist to increase the
life of the brushes. This particular machine
only polished one side at a time, though they
have made versions to finish both surfaces
that have two belts, one with a brushes above
the other below. The parts can also go through
a third conveyor for demagnetizing.
The particulates are filtered and directed
to a magnetic rod enclosed in plastic tube for
easy clean up. The process can accommodate
as many as 1,200 parts/ hr.
A feature called Auto Amp Compensation
senses and compensates the wear on the
brushes to ensure consistency.
In one case, they dropped a customer’s cost
of deburring from $0.04 to 1/8 of a penny.
CDMC makes several other machines,
ranging from the CDMC Model 5000 for
parallel axis gear deburring, which employs
four rotary brushes to portable options for
basic orbital brushing. It’s also an authorized
Despite all the automatic version they have,
even CDMC will reluctantly resort to manual
deburring on occasion—when certain components that comprise deburring machines
arrive a little rough around the edges.
“Seeing a sharp edge in one of our machines, it’s the ultimate sin: a burr on a deburring machine,” says Mutschler. “I’ll go grab a
hand file and take care of it myself sometimes.”
For more info from Cleveland Deburring,
Even a small imperfection can wear down parts or throw off timing, so Cleveland
Deburring’s custom machines can be designed to fnish complex gears.
A helical gear before and after deburring.