When plastics or metals are molded, forged, or cast, excess material from the process may remain attached to the part that was just created. This excess material is called flash or flashing and is usually the result of material leakage between the two mating surfaces of the mold. This excess material must be removed before the part can proceed to the next step in the process.
The process of removing the excess material is called deflashing. While in the past deflashing was typically done by hand, the process was time-consuming and could result in unsafe working conditions for the employees. Now, with improvements in technology, robotic deflashing is a faster and more efficient process resulting in a vastly improved finished product.
In the past, manual deflashing involved employees who removed flashing using hand tools. The process was time-consuming and dangerous due to the repetitive nature of the movements required to deflash the products.
The potential for injury was high with the employees using sharp tools required to remove the flashing. Employees who also used grinding tools would release dust particles into the air that would then be inhaled, leading to possible breathing problems. The conditions were unsafe with a high potential for workers’ compensation injuries and subsequent loss of income for the company.
Automated deflashing involves the use of a robotic arm to help remove the unwanted flashing. Depending on whether the flashing is plastic or metal different cutting tools are used. For plastics, end mills or scalpels are able to handle the finishing process. For parts that are aluminum, steel, or ductile iron–end mills, cut-off wheels or diamond coated abrasives (for ductile iron only) are better suited. Then, these cutting tools and abrasives are paired with the appropriate end of arm tooling. Together they remove the extra material leaving a finished product.
The Benefits of Automated Deflashing
Automated deflashing results in a safer work environment, superior quality, and increased throughput of the product. Quality is assured since the robot is simply following its programming in completing the deflashing job. Force control can be added to the robot, which is an auxiliary device that gives the robot the ability to apply just the right amount of pressure to the product being deflashed. This is important since too much pressure can take too much material from the product while too little will not remove enough material. Throughput is increased since the robot works faster and more efficiently while it is deflashing. It simply does what needs to be done and moves on to the next part. In essence, automated deflashing achieves the same result every time more quickly and more efficiently.
By automating the deflashing process, the potential for unsafe conditions or injury is greatly reduced. The robot typically completes 80-90% of the finishing operation, freeing up skilled employees to safely inspect and touch up parts. In effect, the robots have taken the dangerous part of the job and moved the employees to roles where they are better utilized. Companies do not have to worry about the potential for expensive worker compensation cases and can instead focus on increasing profits and a better and safer working environment for their employees.
The Automated Solution
PushCorp is a leading robotic tool manufacturer. We specialize in material removal equipment and offer a number of products including equipment for grinding, sanding, polishing, deflashing, and deburring designed to assist you with your company’s robotic processes. Contact us for guidance on which products will work best for you. Our experienced team of engineers is always ready to help.