IMTS 2014: Satisfying Abrasive Customers
Grinding, honing experts are meeting customer demands for automation, turnkey solutions and more
Users of CNC tool grinding machines can expect to see greater levels of automation, more sophisticated software that is easier to use than previous generations, an increased capability for multiple operations in one machine from grinding to inspection, and faster cycle times, according to the president of CNC tool and cutter grinder developer ANCA Inc. (Wixom, MI). “Alert machine designers and builders will be responding to the needs of users for faster cycle times, grinding more complex parts by offering better software, innovations in abrasive material, and automation,” said ANCA President Russell Riddiford.
“At IMTS, they will also show how their machines reduce the need for service and improve tool generating cycle times,” Riddiford pointed out. “The result you can look for is increased grinding capacity using less floor space. More accessories with the tool grinders will provide greater flexibility for producing many different tool designs.”
“The new ANCA EDGe, on the show floor for the first time at IMTS, has the flexibility to erode PCD [polycrystalline diamond] tools and grind carbide and HSS tools on the same machine. It is suitable for a wide variety of tools and applications. The EDGe-Spark generator monitors and controls the energy level of every spark for optimum surface finish, material removal and cycle time,” Riddiford said.
Responding to Global Pressures
Larry Marchand—vice president, Surface & Profile Division, United Grinding North America Inc. (Miamisburg, OH)—sees global competition leading customers to strive to maintain a competitive edge:
“Several of our customers are adopting new, leaner business practices, purchasing more efficient equipment and using automation to a higher degree to remain globally competitive,” Marchand noted. “We find ourselves proactively responding to customers’ needs for complete turnkey grinding manufacturing solutions. In fact, we’re seeing increased demand for surface and profile grinding machines that perform multiple processes, such as grinding, milling and drilling, and make automation integral to the machine’s functionality.”
“At IMTS, we will showcase the Mägerle MFP 100 surface and profile grinding center with automatic toolchanging,” Marchand said. “It can grind, mill and drill, making it useful for shops that require multiface machining of heavy and complex workpieces in a single clamping operation. It also offers high working speeds, quick tool changes and an expandable toolchanger system that can hold up to 60 tools. It is possible to load the toolchanger with tools such as drills, milling cutters, CBN wheels and measuring sensors.”
The company’s tool division will highlight the Walter brand’s new Helitronic Vision 400, which includes a grinding wheel changer and robot loader with up to a 7500 tool capacity for the mass production of rotationally symmetrical tools, including milling cutters, hobs, drills, formed tools and more made from HSS, HM, Cermet, ceramic and CBN.
Big Solutions for Energetic Customers
Daniel Rey, director of sales—North America for Hardinge Grinding Group (Elmira NY), has seen an uptick of interest in grinding machines that can handle large parts for two sides of the energy industry. “We have customers in the wind-energy market making transmission components for wind-turbine gearboxes. And on the oil and gas side of the industry, in Texas, there are customers who are looking to expand and modernize their grinding equipment, which they use to grind components used in downhole drilling.” Although the size of those components sound daunting—they can be up to 3.6 m long and weigh up to 5000 kg—the material challenge is...the material, which Rey said is “almost as abrasive and as hard as the grinding wheels themselves, making it hard to remove material without excessive wear on the grinding surface.”
At IMTS, the company will be featuring the Usach 100-T4, a smaller machine used for precision parts in a job-shop situation. “It’s a very universal machine,” Rey said. “It has an OD grinding wheel and three ID spindles of different speeds—covering a speed range from 6000 to 90,000 rpm—so that ID and OD can be done in a single setup.” And premiering at IMTS will be the Usach 75, a small and compact precision cylindrical bore and face grinding machine: “We’ve modified a Quest-based Hardinge hard-turning lathe and equipped it so it can be used as a grinding machine.” Rey explained. “It can be set up as a hard-turning lathe combined with a grinding spindle or else equipped—as it will be at IMTS—with two grinding spindles.”
Gunning for Drill Business
In solid carbide drill manufacturing, there is a trend to produce super-long drills that can do the work of gundrills, said Eric Schwarzenbach, president, Rollomatic Inc. (Mundelein, IL). “The reason is that if a component needs gundrilling, then the component has to be taken to a dedicated gundrilling machine.” If a solid carbide drill can do the equivalent deep-hole drilling but as part of the machining center that’s doing the rest of the work on the component, it can save setup time and capital investment:
“With a spiral-fluted drill you can leave the component on the machining center, and you can do all of the other operations—milling, boring, anything—and also do the deep-hole drilling on this same machining center.”
The challenge with deep-hole drilling is that coolant needs to reach the drill tip efficiently, Schwarzenbach explained. Rollomatic has developed a six-axis CNC drill grinding machine, the GrindSmart 528XF, that focuses on deep-hole drills with coolant through-feed of up to 150 times diameter. The machine has a twin steadyrest system that accounts for the back taper as it supports the long drill as well as a camera to locate the flutes according to where the cooling holes are.
“The carbide blank is thin and has these coolant holes in it, but because it’s a spiral-fluted drill, the coolant holes also have to be spiral-fluted so that when you flute, you don’t hit those holes and open them up,” Schwarzenbach said. “The camera picks up where the holes are and the machine will accommodate them when fluting the drill.”
Schwarzenbach believes that there is a US market for these fluted solid carbide drills that can replace the need for dedicated gundrill equipment. “Many of these drills are currently imported to the US from manufacturers in Germany and Japan,” he noted. “With the right equipment now available, domestic toolmakers could fill this niche.”
Handling the Tough Stuff
“The precision engineering markets are constantly trending toward ever tighter tolerances and more challenging materials,” said William Lang, manager, Technical Business Development for Norton–Saint-Gobain (Worcester, MA). “Aero engine makers require higher engine temperatures and weight reduction for fuel efficiency, and this has led to advanced materials such as PM sintered nickel alloys, TiAl and CMCs. These are extremely difficult to machine and are driving engineered ceramic grain and superabrasive grinding technologies; even traditional SiC based abrasive technologies have received increased research attention.”
At IMTS, Norton will be highlighting new abrasive technologies such Vitrium3, Paradigm and Rapid Prep Surface Conditioning Material that handle the tough new alloys and CMCs, Lang said. “For example, Norton’s new Bear-Tex Rapid Prep designs offer features which allow LF, RF and XF products to be used on aerospace Ti, Ni and AL in either disc or belt form.”
Exotic materials are a challeng on the sawing side of the industry as well, according to David Miles, vice president of Sales and Marketing at Simonds International (Fitchburg, MA). “The metal cutting space is continuously looking for ways to cut exotic materials faster, with less kerf waste, and with the ability to forego surface prep operations after cutting,” Miles noted. “At IMTS 2014, we will be featuring sawing solutions that are custom-designed for the user’ specific application and cutting requirements.”
Honing without Tears
Phil Hanna is product manager—Machines/Gages for Sunnen Products Co. (St. Louis). He has a surprising and succinct answer to the question of what his honing customers want these days: “Not to hone.”
Hanna explained that from his customers’ perspective, honing is “a necessary evil” for parts needing the roundness/straightness/surface finish that only that process can achieve. “Our challenge is to minimize the pain of honing,” he said. “Our goal is a user-friendly system which minimizes the learning curve for the operator as well as setup time while maximizing production throughput. As you know, the smallest details when overlooked can add to the frustration of an operator who is running the machine 8–10 hours per day.” Along with ease-of-use, Hanna said his customers are seeking more customized solutions these days. “We have a group of engineers whose sole responsibility is designing custom systems.”
Hanna reported that Sunnen will be introducing five new machine models at IMTS 2014, including three horizontal/pedestal hones, the SSH1680 “an entry-level power stroker,” SH2000 (replacing the ML2000), and SH4000 (replacing the ML4000 and 5000). “The new SH series are incorporating new technology as the next generation of our flexible ML series of horizontal machines,” he said. Also new: the HTE1600W small bore hone, “an all-electric tube hone with features specifically designed for small bore tubes 4–19 mm ID and up to 1.5-m long.” ME
—Senior Editor Michael C. Anderson
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Published Date : 8/1/2014