What is Deburring and Why is it Safer?

Are you concerned about your employees’ safety? Did you know that deburring can help prevent your employees from getting injured?

Today, most modern cutting equipment is pretty good about producing a clean cut through the metal — but burrs still happen.

If your parts have raised, sharp edges, then your employees risk getting severe cuts by merely handling them. Let us show you more about what burrs are and how to keep your employees safe by removing them.

What is Deburring, and Why Should I Care?

It’s a typical Monday morning. You’re sitting at your desk, looking over paperwork, enjoying your first cup of coffee. Out of nowhere, one of your employees frantically rushes in and tells you to “come quick!” — there has been an accident involving his co-worker.

He takes you to his co-worker who is holding a blood-soaked rag wrapped around his hand. You notice one of the metal parts from the fabrication machine on the ground.

Quickly, you start to realize what just happened.

He cut himself on the edge of the part that came out of the machine. You help him up and walk him back to the office where it’s quiet so you can have a look at the wound. The metal sliced through his glove and caused a laceration so deep he has to have stitches. This means workers comp and time off for him and a bunch of paperwork for you.

How can you prevent this from happening again? 

Wearing gloves to protect your hands can help, but it’s not a guarantee of safety. A particularly sharp burr can slice through a glove and cause severe lacerations that could leave you rushing your employee to the ER for stitches. Removing burrs after the fabrication process is essential to their safety.

What are Burrs?

Burrs are the sharp, jagged pieces left behind after the fabrication process. If you are familiar with woodworking, think of it like this. When you cut a piece of lumber, it leaves behind a rough edge that can cause splinters. With metal, the rough edges are a lot more dangerous than a splinter.

There are two main types of burrs caused during fabrication.

  1. Mechanical burrs are caused by shearing, stamping, or folding.
  2. Thermal burrs (aka slag or dross), are burrs caused by laser cutters or other heat-generating machines.

How Can You Remove Burrs?

Deburring vs. Finishing

Deburring and finishing are two separate processes.

Deburring involves the removal of raised edges or left behind pieces.

Finishing is the process of enhancing the quality and/or prepping for painting. Any scaling or pitting would be removed.

Finishing machines might also be used:

  • To remove Calibration and Stock to decrease variations and helps achieve higher material removal rates.
  • For slag grinding, the process of removing the slag left behind from thermal cutting machines.
  • For edge rounding to the edge of a metal part, especially ones that form an edge radius.

Removal by Hand vs Machine

Burrs can be removed with several different methods. The two most commonly used methods are manually removing them by hand using tools or running them through a deburring machine.

Removing Burrs By Hand

Burrs can be removed manually using a file, sandpaper, and deburring tool. This method is necessary for parts that need to be deburred delicately or medical components. The cost of labor for manually deburring might not make sense if you aren't dealing with these types of parts. In that case, purchasing a machine to do the work for you or outsourcing to a manufacturing company with the right equipment would be ideal.

Removing Burrs With A Machine

A deburring machine will use a combination of belts and brushes to remove burrs from your metal parts. There are two basic types of deburring machines available to purchase. You can choose from a wet or dry machine. Which one will be best for you and your shop will depend on a variety of factors.

How to Choose a Deburring or Finishing Machine

Deburring and finishing systems each have their own pros and cons. You also want to consider the types of metal that you are grinding.

Wet Machines

Wet machines are a good choice if your shop typically grinds different types of metals. A wet machine will flood the work area with coolant. The coolant collects the dirt and particles caused by the grinding process. They are caught in a filter as the coolant passes through and is recycled back into the tank. This helps keep the dirt and debris from accumulating and eliminates the need for a dust collection extractor.

Pros
  • No need for a dust collection extractor.
  • Longer belt life.
  • Parts are cool to the touch when they come out of the machine.
  • Minimizes hazards when working with different types of metal.
Cons
  • Requires a strict maintenance routine to prevent corrosion.
  • Requires daily cleaning and monitoring.
  • Higher cost than dry machines.
  • Bearings have to be replaced frequently.

Dry Machines

Dry machines are better suited for shops that grind similar metals. The cost and maintenance of these machines are less than wet machines, but they have their cons too. They require a dust collection extractor, unlike the wet machines.

Pros
  • Cost less than wet machines.
  • Requires less maintenance than wet machines.
Cons
  • Dust accumulating in the ducting can cause a fire.
  • It can leave dust and debris on the parts, which can cause premature wear on the press brake tooling. This can be pretty costly to replace.
  • Requires dust collection extractors.

Should You Outsource Your Fabrication Needs?

Outsourcing your fabrication can be beneficial to your company for several reasons.

  1. Outsourcing keeps you from having to purchase and maintain costly machinery.
  2. You can avoid the high-cost of employee training and risk.
  3. Outsourcers can ensures a high standard of quality control when you choose the right company to help with your fabrication needs.
  4. The right fabricator will help you lower the cost and ensure value.

You also have the added benefit of access to their knowledge and expertise without having to train employees on new safety procedures.

Recommended Reading: Adding it Up - The Real Cost of Partnering with a Fabrication Shop

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Our team will work with you on a project-by-project basis to come up with a plan that is best for you. For a full list of the services we provide, head over to the Services Page.