Implementing a Deburring robot: A step-by-step guide for fabricators

August 3, 2023
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Assessing your deburring needs and process bottlenecks

Before you rush off to buy a Deburring robot, you'll want to determine if your current process actually needs automation. Analyze your production volume, part sizes and shapes, material types, and existing bottlenecks to determine if automation makes sense and how to optimize it. You should consider aspects such as:

Do you have a high volume of similar parts that require consistent deburring?

If so, a robot can efficiently handle repeatable tasks. If every part is different in your shop or requires variable techniques, automation may be a more costly endeavor for you.

Are some parts difficult or time-consuming for employees to deburr?

Robots excel at tedious, physically demanding work. Robots are particularly useful for lengthy deburrs or excessively large parts.

Where are the slowdowns in your current process?

Loading or unloading parts or transitions between workstations? Awkward parts which are difficult for your human deburrers to reach? Or maybe you’re just constantly replacing abrasives? 

With your bottlenecks identified, you’ll want to consider whether or not you need to make adjustments to your current workplace to make it suitable for a robot. While most robots are mounted at a stationary point on a floor or ceiling, you may want to consider a Cartesian robot attached to a track if mobility is important. You’ll also want to consider how the part to be deburred will be held in place. 

Remember, your robot will be powered separately from the deburring end-effector attached to the robot which means you may need space for a hose to connect to the robot, particularly if you want the robot to vacuum debris and grit while it deburrs.

Safety First: Creating a risk assessment for your Deburring robot

The most important part of any pre-purchase assessment is the risk assessment. Before turning your Deburring robot loose, you'll need to evaluate potential hazards and create safety protocols to keep your workers safe.

Assess pinch points and crushing hazards. Deburring robots have powerful motors and joints that can trap fingers or clothing. Consider a “Collaborative” robot which can detect potential collisions and automatically stop deburring or moving. 

Consider the robot's work envelope or the area in which it operates. Ensure no one enters the envelope while the robot is running by installing perimeter guarding, safety scanners, and emergency stops. If appropriate, establish a "safe zone" for loading and unloading parts which the robot cannot reach.

Beware of flying debris that deburring creates. This is unlikely to be a problem for your robot, but install chip shielding and mandate protective gear for the benefit of your employees near the robot. Consider armored power cabling to prevent debris from damaging your robot’s power source.

An automated deburring disc changer which may seem like an extra expense — but allows the robot to change its own abrasive — reduces the number of interactions your staff will need to have with the robot. This not only makes for a safer operation but also reduces downtime for your robot, allowing it to complete more deburring cycles and bring you a better return on investment.

With the proper safeguards and precautions in place, Deburring robots and employees can operate side by side efficiently and securely. Conducting a comprehensive risk assessment and emphasizing safety at every step of implementation will help ensure smooth sailing with your new automated teammate.

Programming your Deburring robot: Tips and tricks

Once your robot is purchased and installed, programming a deburring automation does require some patience and know-how. Whether you opt to hire a robot programmer or choose a robot with a no-code programming interface, here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Focus on one task at a time. Don't try to program the entire deburring process at once. Programming sequences always have lots of bugs, so it’s easy to go step-by-step and address these, rather than creating an elaborate sequence off the bat.
  • Spend time on the precision. While teach pendants are useful for positioning the robot, rely more on direct programming for the actual deburring paths and processes. This gives you more control and flexibility.
  • Keep a log of how the programming works. Describe what each step or section of code is doing. If you program your robot today and don’t change it for a few months, chances are you’ll need to spend a lot of time figuring out what each step does. This is doubly true if you hand off programming tasks to your employees.
  • Test and refine. Run your program at a slow speed first to ensure there are no issues. Make changes as needed before ramping up to full speed. It's much easier to fix problems when the robot is moving slowly and you can assess where things might be going wrong.
  • Run long tests. Testing one cycle at a time is great for catching obvious mistakes, but millimeter precision errors may take hours of operation to show themselves. Run your robot for a full shift on dummy parts before you introduce it to a real production line.

With regular use, programming your Deburring robot will become second nature. Start with the basics, learn from your mistakes, and don't be afraid to experiment.

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Maintaining your Deburring robot

To keep your Deburring robot running efficiently, it requires regular maintenance and care like any other machine in your shop. Here are some of the robot-specific tasks you’ll want to keep on your maintenance register.

Daily checks

Each day, do one or more visual inspections of the robot. Check that any cables and vacuum hoses are securely connected and not damaged. Inspect the end effector and tooling for any wear or debris buildup and clean or replace as needed. Test that the robot is moving smoothly through its full range of motion. 

If you neglect this check then your robot might deburr more material than you’d like over the course of a shift and ruin your parts before someone notices.


Like any machine, your robot requires a regular lubrication schedule to be followed. This is also true for the end-effector attached to the robot, which will have its own, separate lubrication schedule. As we mentioned above with debris, inappropriate lubrication can affect joint movement. Even small, second-long delays to joint movements can lead to longer cycle times and thus notably lower productivity over days and weeks.

Abrasive swaps

Unsurprisingly, your Deburring robot will wear through abrasives just like your human deburrers do. The good news is that these tend to last 30% longer than human-wielded abrasives, given the consistency and force control which Deburring robots are capable of. Nonetheless, plan for regular abrasive changes — your robot may not be able to notify you when deburring discs are running low and can underperform on your parts before your staff notices.

Working alongside the robot: How human deburrers and robots can complement each other

Working with a robot deburring system means rethinking how human deburrers operate. Instead of competing, humans and robots can complement each other. Here are some tips for working alongside your new robot colleague.

Define clear roles

Determine which tasks are best suited for humans vs the robot. For instance, robots can handle high-volume, repetitive or large-surface-area deburring while humans focus on more complex parts or edge cases. This division of labor plays to the strengths of both.

Provide ongoing training

Even after the robot is programmed and operational, continue training human deburrers. They'll need to understand how the robot functions, proper safety procedures, and how to troubleshoot common issues. Well-trained staff will be much more comfortable and effective working with the new technology.

Ensure proper safety measures

Never compromise on safety. Whether they directly interact with the robot or not, provide all staff with comprehensive training on robot operation and emergency stops. Install proper safeguarding such as light curtains, emergency stops, protective fencing, and conduct risk assessments regularly to identify potential hazards. 

Following these best practices will help ensure your human and robot deburrers work together efficiently and safely. By complementing each other, deburring teams that incorporate both human and robot labor can achieve significant gains.

Next steps

So there you have it, a step-by-step guide to implementing your first Deburring robot. While it may seem daunting at first, as Henry Ford once said — Nothing is particularly hard if you break it down into small jobs

Assess how a robot can fit into your current operations, focus on safety, learn the ins and outs of programming, and get your team on board. With some patience and perseverance, your Deburring robot will be churning out perfectly finished parts in no time. 

Interested in bringing a Deburring robot to your own business? RO1 by Standard Bots is a great choice for manufacturers large and small:

  1. Affordable: RO1 is the most affordable robotic arm in its class, starting at almost half the price of incumbent competitors. 
  2. Powerful: RO1 is faster and more precise than competitors, despite having the highest payload capacity in its class at 18 kg.
  3. Collaborative: RO1 comes equipped with safety sensors and built-in collision detection, for safe operation anywhere on your shop floor.

Speak to our solutions team today to organize a free, 30-day onsite trial and get expert advice on everything you need to deploy your first robot.

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