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Electropolishing for Deburring Metals

The electropolishing process is well-suited for deburring. During the process, the transfer of metal ions occurs most rapidly on corners or edges of metal parts. Current density or concentration of electrochemical power is greatest at high points, just as lightning is drawn to tall trees and buildings. This helps explain why plating builds metal faster on an edge or burr, while electropolishing (the “reverse” of plating) removes metal fastest at these points.

Differences in Deburring Methods

Properly controlled, the electropolishing process can remove burrs from incredibly complex or fragile parts that do not lend themselves to conventional tumbling or vibratory finishing techniques. The process is best suited for parts having fine blanking, milling, broaching, lapping or grinding burrs. Since electropolishing is non-mechanical, it is important to note that the hardness of a metal part has no bearing on the burr removal. The process works equally well on a fully annealed or hardened part. This is one reason why electropolishing is often specified as a final deburring and finishing process after all fabrication and heat treating processes.

The fact that electropolishing is a non-distorting process is often overlooked. Many metal parts produced today have critical microfinishes or are made from lighter, more fragile materials. In those cases, mass finishing techniques such as tumbling or vibra-finishing create distortion or warping, and can nick or scratch fine finishes. Electropolished parts are never subjected to stress from polishing media, nor are they impinged or tumbled onto each other.

Treating Large Burrs Before Electropolishing

It is important to note that deburring is limited based on burr size, component configuration and amount of stock removal. Larger burrs produced in rough milling or displaced metal from drilling operations often need pretreatment using other methods. In addition, heavy die break burrs caused by improper tooling maintenance are difficult to remove with electropolishing alone.

Stainless Steel Duburring

If your stainless steel parts have extra material or burrs? Able Electroploshing can help. Through our proprietary electropolishing or reverse plating process, we have been deburring stainless steel and many other allows since 1954. Our staff of knowledgeable technicians are dedicated to finding the most cost-effective methods for removing burrs from stainless steel We can provide deburring services for stainless steel even in the most hard to reach areas –and we can do all this without affecting the strength or structure of your valuable steel parts.

At Able, we implement a wide assortment of techniques to remove burrs from stainless steel. During the process, the transfer of metal ions occurs most rapidly on corners or edges of metal parts. Current density or concentration of electrochemical power is greatest at high points, just as lightning is drawn to tall trees and buildings. This helps explain why plating builds metal faster on an edge or burr, while electropolishing (the “reverse” of plating) removes metal fastest at these points.

Benefits of Metal & Stainless Steel Deburring

Properly controlled, the electropolishing process can remove burrs from incredibly complex or fragile parts that do not lend themselves to conventional tumbling or vibratory finishing techniques. Since electropolishing is non-mechanical, it is important to note that the hardness of a metal part has no bearing on the burr removal.

Additionally, since electropolishing is a non-distorting process, your stainless steel parts are never subjected to stress from polishing media, nor are they impinged or tumbled onto each other.

Case Study 1: Electropolishing Stainless Steel Surgical Tool

The 400 series stainless steel component pictured is the inner portion of a dual drill bit assembly used for surgery on the human brain. Grinding and/or machining burrs prevent the mating parts from freely rotating (one bit within the other), while burrs specifically on cutting edges reduce ease and rate of cutting. Increased pressure on the drill bit due to contaminated cutting edges affects the functionality of the cutting device’s clutching mechanism; the sharpness of the bit is tied directly to the function of the rest of the device. In addition, if not properly removed, burrs may flake or chip off causing a potential bio-hazard for the patient.

Deburring - Case Study 1

By precisely removing .0005″ +/-.0001″ total material off of the drill bit’s O.D., electropolishing the stainless steel part preserves edge condition while removing problematic burrs. As in this application, electropolishing is often a superior alternative to hand deburring; the electropolishing process offers greater consistency from part to part, and is significantly more cost effective. Deburring the part while maintaining sharp cutting edges, electropolishing allows the cutting device to function smoothly, efficiently and safely.

Case Study 2: Electropolishing Stainless Steel Vegetable Peelers

Deburring - Case Study 2

The part pictured is a 420 stainless blade used on high-end vegetable peelers. After the grinding operation, the blade edges are left sharp, but ragged. Pictured parts on the left side of the page illustrate the burrs post-grinding. The grinding burrs need to be removed in order for the blade to slide and cut smoothly—it is also important for this product to be clean and free of any metal shavings, as it comes into direct contact with food. After researching various deburring options, the manufacturer of this high volume product found electropolishing to be the most consistent and cost effective method to finish the blade component of the peeler. As the final operation, electropolishing is useful for both deburring and cleaning the part. In this case, .002″ total material is removed from the thickness of the blade which, after extensive sampling, was proven to be the optimal amount of removal. Once electropolished, the blades are burr-free and sharper than in the “as-ground” condition.

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