To many, deburring is a frustrating, but nevertheless essential process for numerous reasons, including health and safety, paint preparation, ease of assembly, stress relief and tolerance.
Depending on specific components there is a right approach to deburring and surface finishing, as Ellesco’s managing director, Vincent Simonis, begins: “The choices available to those manufacturing components when it comes to deburring are legion. The shape of the component is a good starting point: flat sheet requires different technology from complex free-form shapes. Do you need hard or soft tooling? The former includes rotary burrs, mills, drills, abrasive belts/discs, while the latter covers elements such as nylon web, wire brush, nylon filament and even high pressure water. That’s before you come to the actual machine to carry out the process and whether the part needs to be ‘floating’ or held rigidly.”
Automate to innovate
Ellesco has all areas covered through its long-term relationships with leading manufacturers of deburring and surface finishing equipment. Among these is WMS-Engineering, a Germany-based specialist in robotic deburring and finishing systems. One of the latest developments from WMS is the W-Twin, a two-robot processing cell, with handling capacity ranging from 3kg to 100kg. The W-Twin is delivering significant cycle time savings thanks to WMS’s MultiMove technology and the ABB robot control IRC5 system. MultiMove allows the coordination of two robots, this combined with the single IRC5 robot control from ABB provides synchronous or independent movement of the robots to maximise productivity. The control interrogates each robot and calculates their working area eliminating any risk of collision. By having two, simultaneously, functioning robots, cycle times are reduced and when compared with having two standalone robot cells capital investment and space requirement is cut by around 25%. Assisting in the performance gains of the W-Twin system is the innovative spindle developed and manufactured by WMS. This can handle a range of tools from milling cutters, brushes, and various special deburring tools, but its key feature is its ability to be programmed in all axes to provide different levels of resistance, depending on the part/process being undertaken.
Versatility is provided by the variety of configurations, not only of the robots, but of the system itself. The user can specify the configuration of the various machine elements, such as tooling, gripper, fixture and workpiece magazines. Piece-part probing can also be specified to ensure correct offsets are maintained part-by-part; batch-by-batch; or as part of a sampling strategy. Other options include part weighing (for monitoring casting porosity), in-process gauging, part marking (dot matrix or laser), machining functions such as drilling, tapping and honing, component washing/cleaning, and preventative coating systems. The addition of these features result in a complete post-machining processing cell that is both compact and extremely efficient.
In the case of smaller components, parts are presented to the cell directly from the previous machining operation, or collected by the cell robot, and the first robot picks a part and presents it to whichever tools are required. Once complete the part is passed to the second robot for the reverse faces to be deburred. A typical cycle time is around 40 seconds, depending on part complexity. Where larger components need to be processed, such as engine blocks, the process is reversed, with the part remaining stationary and the tools presented to it by the robot arms. This ability to take the work to the tool or the tool to the work, or even a combination of the two adds greater flexibility to the manufacturing process. To further improve productivity the modular design of the WMS W-Twin system means it can be adapted to an individual customer’s requirements and, if required, can be linked to other manufacturing systems via automated transfer systems.
Ahead of its time
For flat sheet deburring and finishing, Ellesco has been the exclusive UK and Irish agent for Netherlands-based Timesavers by Grindingmaster since 1975, with over 2,500 installations supplied. The latest innovation is the 32 Series compact wide belt multi-disc (WMdMd) dry-working machine for deburring, edge smoothing and finishing of a range of flat sheet material including stainless steel, mild steel, aluminium and copper. As with other Timesavers machines the workpiece is held in position on a vacuum table before being transferred through the working area. Here, a variety of abrasive media can be applied to process the sheet, including the latest multi-disc aggregate from Timesavers.
The standard table is 1,100mm wide, yet is capable of holding parts as small as 50mm by 50mm. The table height is controlled by motors for ease of use with a range of 1mm to 125mm covering most flat sheet applications. Those applications include removal of standing burrs, pre-grinding heavy burrs and surface finishing in a single pass, the use of brush or discs to break edges and carry out fine finishing to the deburring of oxidised layers on metal parts. Customers can specify the configuration of the 32 Series WMdMd to suit individual applications with options for twin abrasive belts and rotating/oscillating brushes or single belt and twin brush set-up. Other advantages with the Series 32 machine is the ease of use of the control system and its ergonomic design and location on the corner of the machine that allows easy viewing of the working area. Management of the abrasive materials is also simplified with quick-change systems in place for brushed and belts, ensuring minimum interruption of the manufacturing process during changeovers.
“The WMS and Timesavers ranges are just part of the Ellesco portfolio of machines that have allowed us to become leaders in the field of Engineering for Edges,” concludes Simonis. “For over 40 years Ellesco has focused its attention on the precision deburring and finishing of components and we have built up an enviable reputation, with the support of our industrial partners, to deliver the right solutions that meet the specific needs of our customers.”