View Full Version : How do you automate deburring?

10-06-2004, 01:45 PM
Right now I am hand filing all these little parts I am making (1" square)

I have been looking into getting a Vibratory Tumbler. Anyone use this? Will this deburr all the egdes? What kind of media should I use to do that?

Is there a better way?


10-06-2004, 05:00 PM
I do 90% of my deburring on the CNC using a 45° cutter and/or rounding corners with the EM as I machine the part. Gives great consistant results, is fast, is not prone to human error, (an easy way to scrap a $2,000.00 part is to have your deburr guy gouge it or 'over-deburr' it or drop it or scratch it etc etc..), and frees up man hours to be doing something else to make money.

I also have a small rock polisher (about 10" dia.) with plastic media for occasions when the print calls out tumbling. That should work nicely for your parts provided they're alum or non-clear plastics or most light to moderate steels. I've never tumbled exotics, it might or might not work.

10-06-2004, 05:05 PM
It depends upon what the parent material is and how rounded over you want the edges.

You could put them in a rock tumbler. I've seen someone freeze rubber parts in dry ice and then put them in a tumbler.

Media changes depending upon how smooth you want the finish. Usually its some kind of ceramic cone or ball bearings.

A less severe method is to use a vibratory bowl.

If you just want corner chamfering, you might be able to set up a fixture and use a flat bed sander.

Cold Fusion
10-06-2004, 05:23 PM
I'm in the same boat at Swami. Most of our parts are small aluminum pieces with simple curves. All I would like are smooth edges and corners since the faces are already being polished.

Graham S
10-06-2004, 05:43 PM
I saw a site where they showed parts going into a chamber, this was flooded with gas and ignited, the "explosion" melted all the burrs off the ali parts as they are much thinner than the bulk of the metal.

Perhaps not one for home use.

This site is about home anodizing and you need a good finish for that, he uses tumblers and some are homebuilt. I think he mentions a supplier of media that is suitable. BTW the anodizing booklet he sells is quite good (no affiliation).



Cold Fusion
10-06-2004, 05:45 PM
Explosion, hmmm. That sounds right up my ally. I'll give it a try and get back to you;)

10-06-2004, 06:32 PM
A chamfer bit would make it look really trick, but the faces would still need work.

So does it sound like a Vibe bowl/Vibratory Tumbler is the ticket?
Some sites I have found you can't buy less than 20lbs of medium.

Does anyone have a specific media suggestion for deburring aluminum? And what would be even better is a site where you can get it in 5lb bags, lol.

I would be happy with very rounded corners for most of these parts.


10-06-2004, 09:31 PM
Glass blasting de-burrs quickly, removes small machining marks and leaves a very nice satin cast like finish, media is available in most any grit from x-fine to course.

10-07-2004, 10:14 AM
We vibratory deburr exotics here on a daily basis.

Works good, but time in the machine determines amount of edge break.

It does have it's limitations though so be careful.

10-07-2004, 11:25 AM

Any more limitations than doing alum or mild steel? Thanks for the info.

10-07-2004, 12:43 PM
If you have rough or non-crititcal weldment parts (ie plasma cut). I have thrown a scoop of sand in cement mixer and tumbled. This is really frickin noisy though.
Also if you are doing mostly square or straight edge parts you might want to invest in a "Bur-Beaver" its kinda like a wood jointer where you slide the part over a cutter for your deburr/chamfer operation.

10-07-2004, 05:21 PM
You gotta be carefule with aluminum.

It will eat it up quickly sometimes. Just gotta watch it and figure out how long to put it in.

Timers can be a big help, so you don't forget.

Some internal corners, etc can be hard to reach, requiring different shape media. They sell everything from rounds to triangles.

10-07-2004, 05:31 PM
That sounds okay. I would rather deal with something that could remove too much material, rather than a system that can't remove enough.

I missed a great deal on Ebay the otherday for a simple plastic bowled job. $70 or so. It looks like new ones cannot be found for under $99.


Cold Fusion
10-07-2004, 05:46 PM

Something like that would be fine for your sized parts.

10-19-2004, 06:42 PM
So, I ordered a bowl. Now I cannot seem to figure out which media to use. I am finding a lot of stuff for cleaning ammo cases, and rusty parts! argh.

What is a good (and specific) media to use to deburr small aluminum parts in a vibe bowl?


Cold Fusion
10-19-2004, 06:58 PM

For the cutdown part of the finishing use either the white or the green plastic pyramids and

For the polishing part use either walnut shell or corn cob charged with red rouge, Blue Magic, ruby powder or Linde A.

10-19-2004, 06:58 PM
A place I used to work used sawdust.
I believe the action of tumbling where the parts hit each other and the walls of the unit create the deburring action and the sawdust was a cushioning and polishing agent. Cushioning from dents and scraps due to the collisions. I dont know if a bowl works in a similar fashion though.

10-19-2004, 07:00 PM
I have to call jinx on cold fusion.
It sounds like he definately has more experience than me judging by the more professional sounding answer.

10-20-2004, 12:19 PM
yeah he has been good for a trick or two!

Thanks for the link CF, thats perfect.

10-20-2004, 12:28 PM
hmmmm after reading their "how-to" I learned a few things I didn't expect. Its talking about 24 hour runtimes. (I hope this thing isn't too loud!) and it talks about running a flo-through system during the cutdown.

Ya know, "x-acto" knife is sounding kind of appealing now, lol


10-27-2004, 12:13 AM
I have a vibratory deburing machine- I got it used, but it is a BurrKing- you could look on their website. The vibratory machines are expensive- Not sure exactly why, although mine does have a 1hp motor, so its pretty powerful, and a bigger capacity than little rock tumblers.
What I have found is that it makes sense to ask the salesman- look in the yellow pages under deburring or abrasives, call around until you find a distributor that sells the ceramic media, and describe the type and size of part you run, and he can hook you up with the right size and shape. I use a double ended pyramid, about 3/4" long, and they work well on stuff that is at least a couple of inches long.
One thing I really recommend is buying a gallon of soap/anti rust stuff from the suppliers- I have one gallon that has lasted me years, as it thins down with water something like 25 to one- but it really helps- it lubes the whole process, and makes it easy to clean off the parts after you take em out.
I have heard of EDM shops that run whole shelves full of $100 rock tumblers, and leave the parts in for a day or two. Long times seem unavoidable- sometimes when I run stainless parts, that have been waterjet cut with a sharp edge, I leave em in at least a day. Mild steel is usually more like 4 to 8 hours.

10-27-2004, 03:06 PM
This may sound obvious............
If possible, try to always climb mill around the profile.
Use a rough and a nice sharp finish tool.
I always try to minimize burr generation by using a well thought out tool path, especially when machining some of the stainless steels.
It's not science, it's art.

04-04-2012, 08:50 AM
I know Sideros Engineering, they make great deburring tumblers. ROTOCLEAN
SIDEROS ENGINEERING "ROTOCLEAN" (Tumbler - Buratto).avi - YouTube

04-04-2012, 09:53 AM
Almost every part we make contains holes of some sort. We use 90° spot drills as a standard rather than centerdrills. It's common practice for us in many cases to do our milling prior to hole making & drive the spot drill as a chamfer mill for deburring. It's already in the spindle & for simple deburrng, it can be cranked up & driven pretty fast.