These days the most important theme in superabrasive grinding wheel development isn’t the abrasive, it’s the bond. The diamond or CBN grains do the cutting, but the bond plays a decisive role in exposing the grains to the workpiece and enabling coolant to remove heat.
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How do you boost productivity in a highly competitive industry segment while improving the quality of life for your workforce? That’s the story of Skills Inc. (Auburn, WA), a company that is so unique it has two bottom lines—one financial and one social.
Machine manufacturers are working to streamline the gear-making process, to deliver a more highly finished gear in fewer steps.
The industrial world is continuing its adoption of Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T), the advanced tolerancing methodology. The symbolic language is intended to be both more precise while providing more latitude in allowable variations, replacing the simpler method of adding tolerances to each dimension.
“We are developing solutions for power workholding such as hydraulic swing clamps and block clamps, because the real estate on a fixture is so valuable,” says Jason Betz, product specialist for Carr Lane Roemheld (St. Louis). “This pushes the use of smaller workholding components as much as possible because the more parts on the fixture the greater the productivity.”
The challenges to manufacturing as it evolves into the 21st century are now familiar, and impact how metrology must contribute. Manufacturers face uncertain production volumes with roller-coaster demand, shorter production runs and faster product development cycles. Automation, while alluring as a way to reduce cost, needs to adjust.
It’s getting harder to imagine any market that isn’t benefiting from the latest developments in parts manufactured from advanced composites. “Advanced composites will arguably dominate consumer and production products, especially in the near future,” says Bert Erdel, industry consultant and executive technology advisor, Morris Group Inc. (Windsor, CT), “as they have begun to gain wide acceptance in solving energy-related issues.”
The machining challenges for two of the most advanced concepts in cutting tool materials are pretty well known. Cubic boron nitride (CBN) tools of varying designs are being used to cut hardened ferrous metals with or without interrupted cuts, as well as welded and clad metals.
“Five years ago, our fit and finish was below average,” said Dr. Raj Kawlra, director of dimensional strategy and management of Chrysler Group (Auburn Hills, MI). “To be the future world-leaders, we knew that we had to focus on all aspects of quality … vehicles that look good, feel good, sound good, and are reliable.”
Demand for machining titanium for aerospace applications won’t abate any time soon. It is driving OEMs and the supply chain in the commercial airplane market to find ways to dramatically increase machining output. Whatever date you pick from now until 2030, there’s a sufficient backlog of commercial airliners for both structural and jet engine applications to keep spindles humming around the clock cutting titanium.