Surface treatment technology Technical brushes: versatile tools for deburring applications

A guest post by Julius Moselweiß*/ Translated by Alexander Stark

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Brush deburring is one of the most flexible and sometimes most economical methods of mechanical deburring technology. It offers manufacturers and processors of metal and polymer semi-finished products and components the opportunity to remove burrs, round off edges and remove flakes.

Flexible and economical: Apart from complex plant technology, brush deburring offers a highly efficient process for removing burrs, rounding edges and loosening tinsel.
Flexible and economical: Apart from complex plant technology, brush deburring offers a highly efficient process for removing burrs, rounding edges and loosening tinsel.
(Source: Kullen-Koti)

Brush deburring is a purely mechanical surface engineering process. It is suitable for deburring and rounding the edges of workpieces made of steel and iron, non-ferrous, light and sintered metals, and engineering plastics. It can also be used very efficiently for removing tinsel burrs and fettling castings. In industrial practice, brush deburring can be used with hand-held tools and conventional automatic processing machines as well as in fully automated production cells with CNC systems and industrial robots. It relieves the user of the need to invest in expensive, complex plant technology and is considered to be particularly sustainable, as it does not require the addition of chemicals or the supply of thermal energy. The tool brushes required for the process engineering implementation can usually be clamped into existing machines, which considerably simplifies the integration of brush deburring into existing production environments. Since it is also suitable for semi-finished products and batch size 1 components as well as for mass processing, brush deburring is just as attractive for prototype builders, small series and contract manufacturers as it is for large series manufacturers and OEMs.

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Plenty of scope for the right choice

According to doctrine, brush deburring is one of those mechanical deburring processes in which rotating tools with an “indeterminate cutting edge” exert a targeted effect on the surface of the workpiece. A decisive factor for the performance of brush deburring is therefore the nature of this cutting edge — in this case, the brush set. In other words, when selecting the most suitable tool brush for deburring, rounding or fettling, the material, geometry and design of the trim must always be optimally matched to the application. Brush manufacturers therefore offer their customers a wide range of fill types with abrasive filaments and special wires. They give a deburring brush an abrasive or abrading effect. While the demand-optimized adaptation of the abrasive brushes is done via the filament material (SiC, AIO, diamond, ceramic, etc.) and the size of the grain, this is done for the wire trimmings via the hardness of the wire material, the diameter (0.06 - 1.2 mm) and the design (corrugated, twisted, knotted, etc.).

Use existing periphery

In principle, the choice of trim offers the user a great deal of scope for directly influencing the desired deburring result. Typical objectives include particularly high stock removal rates in short cycles, reliable internal deburring of deep holes, continuous smoothing of very long profile edges, or edge rounding with extreme accuracies in the µm range — to name just a few examples. A major advantage in this context is that since brush deburring does not require extensive preparatory work or complex process technology, users are usually able to carry out test runs and series of trials with different deburring brushes quickly and easily on their own.

The situation is similar when determining two other parameters that can be highly relevant for selecting the most suitable deburring brush: The speed of rotation of the brush and the way it is approached to the workpiece. So at what speed should the clamped tool brush optimally rotate and should the feed or infeed be done on the machine side or on the workpiece side? In clarifying these questions, the customer can take advantage of the know-how and experience of consultants form manufacturers such as Kullen-Koti; for practical implementation, on the other hand, many users can fall back on existing production equipment and handling systems. Therefore, brush deburring can often be integrated very easily into the work processes even in small companies with conventional automatic lathes and power tools or in craft-oriented manufactories.

For all facets of deburring technology

Brush deburring provides metal and plastics processing companies with a deburring process that can be used for workpiece weights of just a few grams as well as for components weighing several tons. It is also suitable for soft materials as well as for harder materials. However, it is not recommended for very hard materials, and the height of the burrs should not exceed 0.2 mm. Since deburring technology is also rich in varieties and facets, manufacturers offer many different types of brush systems for it: Disc brushes for robot-assisted surface finishing, circular and single-disc brushes for highly efficient cleaning of weld seams, brush and cup brushes for deburring cut-off points, or internal and alpha-honed brushes for processing bores and transverse intersections. Most deburring brushes can be used both in wet and dry operation. Special pre-treatment of the brushes is not required in this case.

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Abrasive or blunting

Deburring brushes are rotated by a machine in order to achieve their effect. The feed or the infeed to the surface to be machined can take place on the tool or workpiece side. Due to the rotating movement, the bristles of the deburring brush penetrate the surface of the workpiece and deform it elastically. In the process, the fatigue of the material causes small particles to break out of the workpiece, resulting in the removal of burrs and the smoothing of edges. Depending on whether the brush is fitted with abrasive filaments or wires, it has an abrading or blunting effect. The quality of the deburring can be checked with the help of profilometers, roughness gauges or microscopes.

* Julius Moselweiß is a freelance journalist from Darmstadt, Germany.