Many of our customers buy a MicroBlaster for a single application and find it to be indispensable. However, a common fear for job-shops and contract manufacturers is that the contract they bought a new piece of equipment for will only be used for one job.
Investing in any equipment is a considerable cost. Your mind can’t help but wander to the untouched appliances in the back of your kitchen. The breadmaker you bought a month before going keto. A crepe pan you used exactly once. The juicer you bought while committing to getting fit. There are some single-use machines, like your toaster or coffeemaker, that are indispensable. Others…not so much.
Our systems are more like a microwave than a panini press – even if your neighbor only uses it to heat frozen meals every night, you might find it indispensable for making hot chocolate or steaming vegetables. Like your microwave, you can use your MicroBlasting system for more than one application. Overall, about one-third of our clients (including most of our machine shops) have used their MicroBlasting systems for multiple applications.
Deburring, from Polymers to Metals
One of our customers found us after receiving an order for PEEK implants, a material we’ve covered extensively before. Through testing, we were able to demonstrate Microblasting as a superior technology to scraping off burrs individually with small picks, so the company purchased an AccuFlo® and ProCenter Plus™ for the application.
Blast away PEEK (left) and titanium (right) burrs.
Shortly after, that same company received another order for parts that needed deburring – this time, titanium bone screws. Unlike PEEK, deburring titanium with picks is impractical. The only viable alternative to precision blasting is using chemical deburring, a procedure involving corrosive substances with complicated disposal procedures. Thankfully, MicroBlasting can deburr virtually any material, so they didn’t need to buy new equipment. Setting up the deburring process for their second application was as easy as switching out their abrasive and eliminates the need for complicated cleanup procedures.
Similarly, another customer who initially used MicroBlasting to deburr PEEK received an order for guidewires with a thin layer of PTFE that needed to be removed in small, evenly spaced sections. They were happy to learn that they could easily add a Ring Nozzle to their AccuFlo and ProCenter Plus.
What’s a Ring Nozzle? It’s a nozzle array designed to uniformly blast the outside curcumfrance of wire or tube. Taking the nozzle array on and off is easy enough to switch between applications on a single system. You can learn more about it here.
A Ring Nozzle easily strips PTFE coating from wire.
From Deburring to Texturing
As mentioned above, deburring metals like titanium, aluminum, and strainless steel with MicroBlasting is much safer and simpler than using chemical baths. Machine shops frequently purchase our machines exclusively for that reason. However, many customers who discover MicroBlasting through research for deburring methods are excited to find out that they’ve discovered an improved texturing procedure as well.
A MicroBlasting system is just about the only tool in a machine shop’s arsenal that can both deburr and texture metal parts. It can be used to remove machining marks and create an even surface finish on a wide variety of materials. The aforementioned bone screws are a fantastic example of why using the same tool for deburring and texturing works so well. Some bone screws require texturing on the screw head to increase the surface area (a higher Sdr means improved mechanical bond with a swivel or another fixation device). MicroBlasting provides the precision to texture this portion of the screw selectively.
Don’t worry if you only have one application in mind right now. The vast majority of companies do not think they will use their machines for a second application when purchasing their first AccuFlo. If buying a single application device worries you, however, know that a MicroBlaster isn’t just a deburring, texturing, cutting, etching, or cleaning tool – it’s all four.
If you’re already thinking of using your MicroBlasting system for a new application, contact our applications lab to learn more about the sample parts process. You can also take a look at our abrasive guide to see what kinds of abrasives you might end up using. Keeping that in mind, you should also bookmark our video on switching between abrasives. We look forward to hearing from you!
What do you include in your surface finish specification? Abrasive type and size? Blast pressure? Anything else? Like the majority of first-time MicroBlasting users, you might stop at those points. Unfortunately, this limited outline opens the door to inconsistent surface finish results. Continue Reading →