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Don't forget finishing

31 Oct 2019

Don't forget finishing

Amongst the plethora of high-technology 5-axis machining centres, fibre lasers and Industry 4.0 applications at MACH, it might be easy to overlook the key part surface finishing plays in the manufacturing process.

But as David Hurley, Managing Director of PDJ Vibro, says: "Finishing is often seen as a Cinderella process, but there is much more to it than meets the eye."

He says designers often fail to consider the final stage of the manufacturing process, when a laser-cut edge, or a milled surface might not be fit for purpose, and an additional finishing process may be required that wasn't originally priced into the job or allowed for in the lead time.

Family-run PDJ Vibro supplies vibratory bowl and trough finishing machines -- often known as rumblers -- as well as associated consumables. It also has an extensive subcontract operation.

However, David says that what he is really selling are parts that are finished automatically without the manufacturer having to worry about them.

He says: "Removing hand finishing and replacing it with an automated process brings a wealth of benefits in quality, repeatability, employee utilisation, health and safety, and even productivity."

A vibratory finishing machine will automatically carry out all the necessary deburring, descaling, edge breaking, finishing and superfinishing processes on components in a consistent and repeatable way.

"Manual finishing is time-consuming, repetitive and boring, but it still needs a skilled person to do it -- who might be better employed on a more rewarding and valuable job," says David.

And because it is a boring, tiring and repetitive process there is also the potential for human error -- and expensive scrapped parts. With an automated process, the result is the same every time, all day, every day.

There are also serious health and safety concerns associated with manual vibratory finishing. Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), also known as Vibration White Finger (VWF), is caused by long-term exposure to vibrating hand-held machinery and can cause damage to nerves and blood vessels as well as a loss of manual dexterity.

Automated finishing not only ensures high-quality components, it can also increase productivity by replacing a finishing cycle on a capital-intensive machining or turning centre.

"A vibratory finishing machine won't take up much room on the shop floor and you will get a better finish, while cutting your overall cycle times," says David.

He adds that a vast range of components can be processed automatically using the vibratory technique -- including machined parts with micron tolerances and delicate 3D printed plastic components.

"We do all types of component, from medical cannulas to gudgeon pins for Formula One teams, and even contact lenses," he says.

PDJ has also developed special processes for finishing additive parts as well as pre-treatments for coated parts.

"If you start with a better surface you get a much better finish on anodised, painted or chemically blacked parts," adds David.

The process is even used to launder money, by cleaning coins found in recycled waste so that banks will accept them.

Come and see the technology in action at MACH 2020.

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