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.
Dealing with tasks that require a lot of labor or hand work is a way to improve processes and trim costs. This is not to say eliminate jobs but rather put the staff to tasks that better use their skill. Helping to make the people more efficient by providing better tools is a way to do this. From finishing enclosures to mirror polishing the finishing tasks tend to be the most manual.
Rather than have four people doing bur removal by hand a through feed machine can speed this way up and provide more consistent parts. Don't size the machine based on you starting material size but rather the part size you cut from that material. Getting a machine sized to your starting material tends to be a good way to spend more than you need to. Machines like the Loewer also let you do the small parts that tend to be done by hand safely.
In a situation where there is a small army hand finishing enclosures bring a stroke sander online. With a good twin belt unit you can cut handling and greatly increase speed. If you opt for one that has a 3D part mount it increases the speed and ease of use further. One belt will cut the welds and the other blends the finish all with out a belt change or moving the part. Quality and speed are both increased while maximizing labor. KBM machines come setup to fill this task by default.
Polishing tends to be a massive labor sponge. Real polishing where you are going for a #8 mirror takes several steps with several abrasives. It is also dirty and physically draining. The best polisher cant keep the same quality level all day as they get tired. That causes a variation in finish just across their parts each day. Now compound that by 6 or more people polishing and consistency becomes a pipe dream. Custom polishing systems tend to have a high buy in but make massive improvements once running. From worker safety and morale to part consistency every aspect tends to see sizable improvements. Getting a higher volume of parts with a much more consistent finish is just the start. Anything from high volume CNC to fine detail robotics are possible with Autopulit and they are built around your needs and not a one size fits all.
Tube finishing is another area many struggle with. As with other material the same issue exist here. Your standard chuck it in a lathe is just so slow and ties up an other wise useful machine with a task it was not designed to do. There are small machines that can put any finish you need on tube and safely. Machines that spin the tube should be avoided if possible due to safety issues. As even a slight bend can cause things to go from zero to crazy in a blink and no one wants to see someone injured. A small simple planetary style tube sander can process 3 feet or more per min and automatically feed the material through the machine. Its a simple yet genius machine that can drastically speed up the process with fewer people all while being safer. Here is where the ML machines from NS can resolve the tube sanding issues quickly and safely.
Looking at the finishing side is an easy way to trim production costs while using fewer people and getting better parts overall. With the reduced quality of raw material most are having to use this becomes more of a key point. What was labor intensive with good materials has now gotten much worse. We can help with these issues and more and advice is always free. If you have a specific issue talk with us and take advantage of the years of experience we have is improving finishing processes.
When you are looking at your parts or talking about them with others the terms tend to get used interchangeably but they mean different things. When you cut a part you end up with a bur with very few exceptions. The process of removing that bur would be deburing obviously. That leaves you with a part that has no bur but can still have a crisp 90 degree corner. At that point you may be done or you could want to break that 90 degree corner and move into edge rounding. These things are not the same and are two separate tasks. While they can be combined they are two tasks none the less. Removing the bur and breaking the edges is about handling, welding, coating adhesion amidst other things and not about the visual appearance of the part.
Many times we all make assumptions based on our own knowledge. This can be a very deep conversation that gets into human nature and any number of other points. But I am noting that just because you know something is no indication others do. With that thought in mind I want to go back to the basics to help every one have a good foundation to build from.
Any business that wants to do well focuses on continuous product improvement, and AM Machinery Sales – and our partners at Loewer deburring machines – are no exception.
That’s why we’ve upgraded the user interface to the Loewer DiscMaster line of metal finishing machines.
The new and improved control panel has two key features to make things easier for the end user: a new digital readout for tool positioning, and a tool change button.
In this week’s blog post, we’re giving the floor to AM Machinery Sales President Tony McCue for another video blog on the cost savings that come from disc sanding.
“The old way is an expensive way to build a piece of equipment,” Tony says in this clip.
A lot of things can change in an industry over the course of 40 years, and the machinery and deburring field is no exception.
When you compare the technology used in 1977 to what we work with today, it can seem like traveling from the stone age to the space age. For example:
- Metal cutting and punching has become so advanced that many manufactures can claim they offer burr-free parts.
- Laser technology now offers higher capacity and faster cutting speeds.
- The last 10 to 15 years have seen significant advances in water jet technology.
But there's one area that hadn't changed much during the past 40 years, and that's deburring machines. At least until the advent of the Loewer disc machines, which entered the U.S. market several years ago.
Most manufacturers still use an abrasive belt in their deburring machine. But it's worth asking: With today's technology being so advanced, and with laser cutting available, do you still need the abrasive belt?