Manufacturers and machine shops have a plethora of options for deburring and finishing metal parts. However, choosing the right option for your operations is key to meeting expectations for spec, quality, timing, tool wear, and more. For high-precision parts, manual deburring using any basic brush won’t do. You might need high-performance, automated brushes that perform more like cutting tools, like Xebec ceramic fiber brushes.
The range of options for metal deburring tools and methods goes from handmade tools in a manual process to sophisticated tools automated in a CNC machining process. Where manual deburring may make sense for small, one-off jobs, it’s usually not efficient or cost-effective enough for anything more. So, many shops are considering automating their deburring and finishing process or have already done so.
There are a variety of deburring brushes to choose from for different applications and at different price points. With each, you’ll also get varied performance and quality. If you’re moving to an automated process and shopping brushes, or if you’re unsatisfied with the brushes you use, it might help to see common options directly compared.
When you compare Xebec ceramic fiber to other material options for deburring, it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Ceramic fiber brushes perform more like cutting tools than brushes. They’re durable, get each job done better, faster and more efficiently, and have a significantly longer tool life. Even shops with a small volume of deburring projects see benefits in cost and productivity with these tools.
“It looks like a brush and feels like a brush, but it is a cutting tool. That’s imperative to understand at the machining level. It’s controllable like a cutting tool. Another important thing is that it’s deburring and surface finishing at the same time. Ultimately, they’re getting both.” – Brett Reeder, Sales Director at Xebec Deburring Technologies
Commonly used tools and brushes for deburring
DIY Handheld: Employee-concocted tools constructed with items like dowel rods, cotton swabs and an abrasive material or adapted wire brushes and sandpaper.
These tools have a low upfront cost and may be sufficient to deburr a handful of low-precision parts. However, they aren’t uniform and they may only last 20 minutes each. Plus, results will differ from one employee and handmade tool to another. It’s difficult to measure how this method “performs” because performance is dependent on the individual. This method and these tools tend to lead to scrap, rework and inconsistent quality.
Grinding Wheels and Flap Disks: Abrasive, circular discs of varying composition attached to handheld or stationary grinders or pneumatic tools.
These methods may take less time and be slightly more uniform than a DIY handheld option, and thus may be the economical choice for small, low-precision jobs. However, they still require the full attention and manual labor of an employee and results will still differ from one employee to another. Additionally, it’s difficult to determine which abrasives are in the discs and anticipate what results they’ll achieve with various part materials. This is another method that “performs” only according to the performance of the individual, with inconsistent outcomes, scrap and rework.
Automated Wire Brushes: Wire brushes, typically either steel, stainless steel or brass, automated in the deburring and finishing process.
These could be cup style brushes or wheel brushes. Wire is a good choice for low-intensity deburring projects and comes at a low upfront cost. Automating the process does make this option faster than manual options. However, it’s not a long-lasting tool, it deforms over time, it won’t be effective on harder metals and it grinds slower than abrasive options.
Automated Nylon Brushes: Nylon brushes automated in the deburring and finishing process.
These could also be cup or wheel style. These are cost-effective up-front and can handle harder metals than wire brushes. They can be used to achieve certain edge radiuses and to finish surfaces. However, their performance is inconsistent, takes longer than a ceramic fiber brush and may leave a surface residue. Additionally, the nylon fibers deform over time, meaning a shorter tool life and incrementally reduced quality. And the material isn’t capable of deburring certain smaller bore sizes.
Automated Xebec Ceramic Fiber Brushes: Xebec ceramic fiber brushes automated in the deburring and finishing process.
These also come in cup and wheel styles, as well as end type styles and specific designs for crosshole deburring. These brushes are made with continuous ceramic fiber, which has incredible grinding power and produces more parts per tool compared to nylon brushes. In fact, this brush has 60 times the grinding power of nylon brushes.
With this ceramic fiber, the brush performs more like a cutting tool than a brush. It can handle harder metals and is pure, with minimal binders or fillers, so you’re not working with mystery abrasives.
These come at a higher price point initially, but they don’t deform over time the way nylon fibers and wire brushes do and they have a significantly longer life. They achieve consistent, high quality with each job and they’re faster than all other options discussed here. They also polish and finish at the same time as they deburr. Other brushes can’t achieve the quality and productivity levels of these brushes, instead costing you in labor, scrap and rework over time.
“It’s not a brush, it’s a cutting tool that controls the final step of your process on the most expensive machine in your shop, your CNC machine.”
*There are also handheld ceramic fiber options for more precise, efficient and expedient handheld deburring.
Which is the right deburring tool for your job?
The best tool for your operations depends on just that – your operations. If you only need to deburr parts every now and then in small quantities, and if you’re not working with high-precision parts for industries like medical, aerospace and firearms, you might do just fine with grinding wheels and flap disks on pneumatic tools.
However, if you need to deburr and finish regularly and you’re working with harder materials with higher expectations for spec and quality, you want a brush that truly performs. Though the Xebec ceramic fiber brush comes with a higher upfront cost than other options, its grinding power, speed and performance is such that other brushes don’t even compare. To evaluate whether a Xebec ceramic fiber brush is the right tool for you, reach out to discuss your process with one of our experienced, knowledgeable team members.