Burr formation during machining is defined as the projection of materials beyond the workpiece limits. Burr formation on machined aluminum parts is a common problem caused by various factors, including cutting parameters, machining tools, and manufacturing strategies. Aluminum burrs are almost impossible to avoid, even after changing the feed rate, cutting speed, and tool geometry. In industries such as automotive and aerospace, aluminum deburring and proper weld practices are crucial for achieving the highest level of precision in cut-to-fit components.
Below, we discuss some of the common methods for deburring aluminum and how partnering with a trusted aluminum supplier can make the process much easier.
Methods for Deburring Aluminum
Deburring aluminum after cutting isn’t a cut-and-dried process. It requires careful attention to the type of burr being used. Burr types are classified by the manufacturing process, application, formation mechanism, shape, and material properties. Aluminum burrs can be broadly divided into primary and secondary burrs. A primary burr is a rollover burr created on the tool exit edge while a secondary burr is formed after the breakage of the primary burr. In general, primary burrs are larger in comparison to secondary burrs, which are smaller than the depth of cut.
Deburring processes can be classified as mechanical, thermal, chemical, or electrical. Mechanical deburring can be done manually using a tool, brush, abrasive, or at CNC machining centers. When deburring aluminum, it is worth noting that the deburring method might affect the dimensions and lead to tensile residual stress, surface passivation, discoloration, and the formation of new burrs. That is why it is important to choose the right deburring method.
Manual deburring is one of the most common and economical deburring methods across industries. Technicians prefer it due to the lack of technology involved, extreme flexibility, and low costs. Burrs are manually scraped out of metal pieces using simple tools. However, manual deburring is time and labor-intensive, resulting in decreased productivity and material wastage. When used in dry conditions, manual deburring increases the waste rate and can delay production lines.
Brush deburring is used for deburring aluminum workpieces such as cylinder heads. Power-driven brush tools are adaptable to manual or automatic equipment, making brush deburring a simple, fast, and relatively inexpensive method. While the rotary action in brushing allows for different driving motors and fixtures to be used, it can also result in new burrs, residual stress, and new changes to the workpiece size. Also, particle and dust emissions during dry sanding pose potential health and safety risks.
Robotic deburring reduces the overall workload and guarantees quality workpieces. High-powered tools ensure an accurate, faster, and more efficient deburring process and work particularly well on aluminum. This is why industrial deburring robots are used to precisely file or grind down aluminum in high-performance applications.
Bonded Abrasive Deburring
This method of deburring aluminum is applied when heavy stock removal is required. Bonded abrasive deburring can be implemented in both manual and automated operations. Different types of abrasives are available for both lubricated and dry deburring of aluminum alloys and metal workpieces. The key advantages of this method include deployment flexibility and low costs; however, it has a relatively short lifetime with dust emission, new burr formation, and impacted surface quality being the major drawbacks.
With CNC machines, high-precision, automated polishing, and deburring of aluminum work parts are achievable. Regardless of the operation, the tools and tooling conditions can be changed easily on CNC machines—resulting in a higher production rate, improved quality, and reduced production costs. Deburring aluminum can also be done through abrasive jet machining that uses a movable water jet or gas nozzle to remove material from machined part edges. This method can remove a significant amount of burr, but not all of it.
Ideally, machinists should always attempt to control burrs; however, aluminum alloys—whether wrought or cast—experience burr formation up to some extent during machining. In a high-performance environment, deburring operations are mandatory and several processes are combined to get better results.
For small shops, machinists, manufacturers, and fabricators, deburring aluminum through various methods can be expensive. Sourcing high-quality aluminum metal remnants from a trusted supplier is a cost-effective alternative that eliminates deburring hassles.
Partnering with A Trusted Aluminum Supplier
At Industrial Metal Service, we have been supplying verified aluminum remnants at unbeatable prices in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond for more than two decades. We use Thermo-Fisher XRF analyzers to verify metal composition for applications that require stringent material specifications. With our cutting-edge metal saw and inventory of high-quality, deburred, and surface-smooth aluminum remnants, maximizing your savings on material needs has never been easier.