The wide range of machining operations to which components can be subjected is, arguably, more complex and critical today than ever. The need to achieve the highest quality of final finish is also receiving greater attention – for both functional and aesthetic reasons.
In this context, deburring has always been a key consideration. Unwanted fragments of material and protrusions attached to a work piece, which can be caused by machining operations, need to be efficiently removed and, as a result, deburring can account for a significant portion of manufacturing costs.
This is the scenario within which wet blast specialist, Vapormatt, has gained significant success in recent times and has built competencies leading to the development of machines designed specifically to address the deburring issue – most notably where deburring of round shank tools is required.
“Wet blasting combines water with abrasive media, which is then fired at a work piece through a nozzle using compressed air,” says Tim Berry, Sales Manager at the Taunton-based company, “which means, in the case of deburring, it is particularly effective. This is because the material used has a relatively softening effect compared to, for example, dry blasting, which minimises the risk of substrate damage – reflecting one of the key objectives of the deburring process.”
He draws attention to the significance of Vapormatt technology for manufacturers of shank tools. “While original equipment manufacturers in this area largely minimise the occurrence of burrs by focusing on material at both the design and manufacturing stages,” he says, “experience suggests that fraze burrs still occur, which can be detrimental to both the coating application and the lifespan of the tool itself.”
The focus on this particular issue with a number of machines in the Vapormatt range represents a natural progression of the company’s edge honing capability. Deburring of tools such as drills, taps, carbide inserts and saw blades can be readily addressed with Vapormatt systems, which are proven to accommodate the high tolerances that OEM’s have to maintain. “The Vapormatt deburring process uses a very controlled slurry of water and abrasive such as plastic to remove burrs without geometric changes to the component,” continues Tim Berry.
The Vapormatt Jaguar is just one example of how this can be achieved. The automatic in-line machine provides a wet blasting, cleaning and rinsing sequence overseen by a sophisticated process control and monitoring system to achieve edge hones up to 100 microns. Often used for cleaning and skin removal to enhance subsequent coating adhesion, its capability extends to surface polishing and preparation prior to and after coating, meaning selective coating removal can also be achieved.
The fully automated Vapormatt Lion, a new addition to the range, has been designed specifically for the cleaning of round shank tools. Tools – to a maximum diameter of 30mm and maximum length of 400mm – can be accommodated in a design that has been specifically developed for medium to high production capacities. Importantly, the Vapormatt Lion requires minimal supervision – of particular benefit to high end tooling manufacturing companies.
“Up to six tools can be manually or robotically loaded onto the machine at any one time, although there are eight separate process stations contained within the Lion machine to include deburring, prolific cleaning and drying index sequences. Each station processes up to six shank tools at one time, giving a total holding capacity of 48 shank tools per cycle, with the deburring preparation chamber housing 18 blast nozzles,” adds Tim Berry. He points out that control of the blast gun nozzles and tool rotation is automatically controlled to ensure 100% effective coverage. The company’s ongoing focus on innovation will shortly see the introduction of a smaller version – the Lion Cub – for those companies with smaller production levels.
“Because deburring is often an inevitable by-product of machining operations, it is vital that manufacturers employ highly effective methods of addressing the issue, particularly as designs become ever more challenging,” adds Vapormatt’s Technical Director Terry Ashworth. “We have proven that our wet blast technology and equipment design is of particular benefit in this regard and, indeed, our success emphasises our commitment to developing the range further via the imminent introduction of the Lion Cub.
“Deburring is a function which impacts directly on product quality and, therefore, ultimately profitability and reputation – and we are delighted that an increasing number of manufacturers who address this particular issue are now gaining from Vapormatt technology and designs,” he concludes.