I thought I would share some more of the questions I get and the answers to them. Keeping in mind each application is different some of the general ideas are universal. I welcome your questions so please feel free to ask any you have no matter how simple or complex.
Working with an extrusion is one of the things that seems easy but the devil is in the details. Its a product where the final finish can make or break its acceptance. In some cases it can be as difficult or more than mirror polishing. As you tend to see the grain finish through the top coating on an extrusion the margin for error is much smaller. If the finish is not even or straight it will at minimum mean rework or possibly rejection. When you apply the grain you have to be careful not to over round any profile and go just the right depth with the grain. Too shallow and the top coat fills it in and it vanishes, but too deep and coating ends up thin in places and the grain is too pronounced. With the cost and headaches involved with top coating extrusions rework and rejection need to be avoided.
A question I get often is robot vs CNC for finishing work. While there is not a clear yes or no type answer there are a few points that can help to guide the person faced with the question.
Automating a finishing process is one of the more complicated things you can take on. When it comes to finishing the definitions tend to be more in the eye of the beholder. There is not one clear standard for finishes and in some cases the end user will confuse all manner of words. It is not uncommon for companies to say they need to polish something and when you dig a bit deeper you find they need a standard #4 type grain. To them that is polishing but to someone else it would not be. This is what complicates finishing processes the most. With bending or cutting the specs and tolerances are more clearly defined for example. The labor consumed by finishing makes it a prime candidate for automation. Being able to free up 3 to 5 people by automating finishing is common and it allows the labor to be moved to other areas of need. It is also an area that tends to have poor retention as it can be some of the dirtiest work in the facility. You can gain repeatability and more consistency as well as speed while reducing labor needed and improving retention.
One of the tasks that tends to be problematic is the OD finishing of tube material. From hand finishing to placing tubes in a lathe there are all manner of ways people try to work with tubes. In reality there is a much more simple and fast way to do it that it seems many are not aware of. There is the centerless style of machine most have seen where the tube spins while being processed. Many are not fans of these due to the risks of the spinning tube. If there is a bend to the material the tube can flail around and get out of control. They also tend to be aggressive in a general sense as far as material removal. If you have nasty rust covered material with severe pits they would be the best option.
All stroke sanders "should" have a flat table of some fashion to allow placement of parts or material being worked. The size and weight capacity tends to be where the conversation ends. With the better machines you may even have a twin belt setup to make life and use of the machine better still. But when you get to the very best of stroke sanders an articulating mount comes into play. What they allow you to do is have the machine hold a given 3D or formed part at just about any angle or height. If you are working with a range hood for example, you can have the mount hold the part at the needed angle while you grind down the weld and blend the finish with the second belt. Before you would need to make a fixture to hold the part and it would be a one off fixture no less. With the articulating mount that is not an issue any longer. Together the features of the better stoke sanders save time per part by not needing fixtures and belt changes. Then add in the fact you don't need to remove the part from the machine for a belt or fixture change and you cut down on injury to the part as well as the staff. Watch the video at the link below to see the mount on a KBM stroke sander. And as always feel free to send in any questions we are happy to help.
We have seen a large increase in demand for wheel finishing in the last year. From smaller custom wheel makers to large volume OEM caliber companies. There has been a general trend in some of the questions asked and in an effort to share the answers I will cover some of them here.