The Heat is On


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It’s July, so let’s talk about heat. Yes, the temperature is proving the dog days of summer are here for most of us, but the heat I’m referring to is thermal deburring.

Did you know there is no such thing as a burr-free part? Although it is impossible to remove all burrs from a part, there are ways to remove most burrs, making them “tolerable.” One manufacturing process that helps diminish these burrs is called thermal deburring, which uses heat energy to remove burrs.

Prior to beginning the process, the parts to be deburred must be thoroughly cleaned, removing cutting fluids, rust inhibitors and other dirt. According to a white paper from Vectron Inc., the parts are then placed inside a thick-walled steel chamber about the size of a standard saucepan. The chamber is sealed with a toggle mechanism exerting 250 tons of force. The chamber is pressurized with a mixture of combustible gas, typically methane and oxygen. The gaseous mixture is ignited with an electric ignition device creating a powerful explosion. The explosion creates an intense heat, several thousand degrees Fahrenheit, within fractions of a second. This heat energy will attack anything with a high surface area to mass ratio, which burrs have.

During this process, the burr is rapidly oxidized, “burning” down to the parent material, resulting in a much smoother edge.

When performed properly with adequate fixtures, thermal deburring will not change any dimensions, surface finishes or material properties of the parent part. This is because the part is only exposed to extreme heat for a fraction of a second.

For more information about thermal deburring, read the white paper by Vectron.