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Burr-free extruded aluminum profiles for the construction of packaging machines - A single deburring tool replaces the time-consuming and costly manual deburring process

Somic Packaging, headquartered in Amerang, is a leading supplier of shelf-ready packaging machines and line technology for complete end-of-line automation solutions. Founded in 1974, the family-owned company expanded rapidly and opened up additional branches and agencies, including in the USA and Thailand. The production site in Haag, Upper Bavaria, was taken over by a contract manufacturer in 2019 in order to meet the company's own quality standards and increase vertical integration. This not only enabled Somic to increase the proportion of in-house production to almost 70%, but also to acquire a wealth of expertise in the areas of turning and milling.

High proportion of automation as a competitive advantage

In contrast to many other companies, which rely on lean structures and a high proportion of outsourcing in order to save costs, Somic is taking a different approach here. Thanks to the high level of vertical integration, highly specialized packaging machines can be developed that are unparalleled in terms of variability and flexibility. This is another reason why Somic is the market leader in these areas today. However, the conclusion from this is also to constantly optimize our own production processes by automating as much as possible.

The aim of automation is not only to increase production speed, but also to improve quality. This is because automated production steps can always be carried out in a consistent quality without quality fluctuations. Time-consuming reworking, which would otherwise usually have to be carried out manually, can therefore be eliminated.

Deburring is often neglected and carried out in downstream processes, which are then often linked to manual activities. The extruded aluminum profiles used by Somic for the construction of its own machines, which are given their shape by being pressed through a die during pre-processing, are then sawn to length and the surfaces of the end faces are trimmed with a milling cutter. Depending on the design, the finished profiles form the base frame of the packaging machine or are used as a pure strut or as a linear drive equipped with linear guides and a belt drive. Due to the soft alloy type, this operation sometimes results in large burrs, which previously had to be removed manually. The many struts of the profile did not make the whole undertaking any easier, so that during the CNC complete machining of a component, one employee was busy deburring the previously manufactured component completely by hand within the cycle time.


The ibex deburring system replaces the entire manual deburring work of an employee, who can now be deployed on other machines.

In-house attempts to automate this process and to run and deburr the individual struts on the end faces in the CNC machine in a programmed manner failed, as the dimensional fluctuations of the components were sometimes too high for this process. The next step was to contact the technical sales representative Waldemar Freund from the deburring specialist KEMPF, who had a tool system predestined for this task. The ibex deburring system, consisting of a compensation holder and specially ground deburring cutters, is the better solution when dimensional fluctuations make the use of CNC-programmed, contour-bound tools impossible. In the case of undefined contours and edges, e.g. cast or formed components, the ibex compensation holder can compensate for up to 10 mm in tension and pressure, so that dimensional fluctuations are simply "swallowed up". Available in three pressure levels (soft, medium and hard), even harder materials can be processed reliably. With the ibex type "Flex", which is used at Somic, these pressure levels can even be set directly on the tool so that a wide range of materials can be processed with one tool. The ability to compensate for dimensional fluctuations on the component means that no contour-accurate programming is necessary and the risk of tool breakage is essentially eliminated. After the first automated deburring tests with the ibex deburring system, it was already clear that manual deburring could be dispensed with in future.

Following the implementation of the tool system in the machine processing of the extruded profiles, these are now completely manufactured and deburred in a cycle time of approx. 30 minutes. The downstream manual deburring process is no longer necessary. This saves Somic around 90% of the manual work previously required and the machine operator can be deployed elsewhere during this time.

Better quality and reduced risk of injury thanks to machine deburring

In addition to the time advantage, the replicability of the deburring results increases and the deburring process is reliable. The specially ground ibex milling cutters with the specially developed cross-cut geometry contribute to a long tool life and fewer tool changes. At Somic, the milling cutters are replaced after around 1,200 minutes of use. As the aluminum profiles are used for different purposes and are sometimes subjected to compressed air in the packaging machines, absolutely no burrs must come loose. The risk of injury during final assembly is also significantly reduced thanks to clean and burr-free edges, which also results in less downtime for personnel.

What has so far only been used in one machine is to be expanded to other machining centers with additional ibex deburring systems, so that Somic will be able to deburr a large number of different aluminium profiles completely by machine in the future. In addition, the deburring system from KEMPF will also be used to produce cast parts directly from the machine without burrs, which will also offer further optimization potential in other areas.

Predestined for deburring profiles

The use of the ibex deburring system not only results in process optimization for the applications at Somic Packaging. As this type of aluminum profile is also used in many different variants in other companies and is usually also processed as a delivered blank, the "problems" during processing are always the same. Due to the manufacturing process (a soft aluminum alloy is heated as a round bar to around 500°C and pressed through a shaping die with a punch), there are usually dimensional fluctuations after cooling that would be too large, even according to the standard, to machine chamfer unmachined surfaces or edges with pinpoint accuracy, for example. Even after defined cutting to length, for example, fluctuations in the material thickness remain, so that NC deburring of the end faces with standard tools is not easily possible. The final dimensions almost always deviate from the CAD model, which in the worst case can lead to tool breakage. With the ibex deburring system, precise tracing of the contours is not necessary, dimensional fluctuations are reliably compensated and a uniform chamfer or deburring can be carried out by machine even under these circumstances.









To deburr the end faces, the spindle head moves to the side to be machined and swivels through 90 degrees. The contours are then traced on the top and bottom sides. This deburring process was previously carried out manually and had to be completed within the machine cycle time. Complete machining now takes around 60 seconds longer per end face, but the component now comes directly from the machine free of burrs.  


Close-up of the front of an aluminum profile before and after: The raw part is sawn to the desired length and trimmed with a milling cutter. The resulting burr can be seen at almost every point of the many bars and struts. All edges must be deburred as the profiles will later be used for various purposes and in some cases compressed air will be fed through them, but also to prevent the risk of injury during final assembly. After using the ibex deburring system from KEMPF, the contours are cleanly chamfered despite dimensional variations and the components are completely burr-free. The full report with even more pictures and a video can be found here!