Until the middle of 2010, first-tier subcontract machinist, JJ Churchill, could produce turbine blades only if they had their fir-tree root-forms preground elsewhere, or if they were subsequently added by another subcontractor. No longer is this the case.
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Burrs, sharp edges, and rough surfaces plague even the most precise metal-cutting or forming process. Deburring and finishing can often be treated as the step-child of a manufacturing process, but its importance is growing as tolerances get tighter and precision devices become the norm.
The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) in 2016 showed unit sales figures in 2015 up 15% on the year before, reaching an all-time high of 253,748. Since 2010, technical improvements in robots and automation have turbocharged investment, according to the report.
Keeping products clean is becoming a more significant part of manufacturing as standards for cleanliness, deburring, and finish grow more stringent.
Glenn Bridgman describes the difference between his shop’s manual grinders and its newest state-of-the-art CNC ID/OD grinder, a Studer CT960 OD/ID from United Grinding (Miamisburg, OH), as “feel vs. facts.” Bridgman, president of Bridge Tool & Die (Buckley, MI), believes that manual grinding is a somewhat personal operation.
Hats off to tool manufacturers! They make some of the most geometrically complex products out of the toughest materials and with the tightest tolerances. And yet cutting tools represent only 3% of the total cost of the average metalworking process.
A recent effort by the Norton Advanced Applications Engineering Group demonstrates that for difficult-to-machine materials, grinding can be an economical alternative to other machining processes.
Cutting tool maker Shape-Master Tool Co. (Kirkland, IL) needed to expand its tool grinding capability beyond that of its conventional machines or run the risk of losing work to the competition.
Coolant is a key component to successful centerless grinding but is often overlooked. Many coolant delivery systems for centerless grinders are under engineered and are often neglected.
In what shouldn’t be too much of a surprise, challenges for advanced grinding technology from high tech industries range from handling the most difficult-to-machine materials for aerospace jet engine turbines to series production on automotive drive train lines.