MMS Blog

By: Barry Rogers 15. February 2019

Buying a Grinder: Applications for Grinding Machines

Previous posts have covered grinding machine construction and the abrasive process in more detail. But in what areas of manufacturing should grinding applied? 

Common automotive applications for OD and ID grinding include brake cylinders, brake pistons, hydraulic steering pistons, selector shafts, spline and gear shafts, connecting rods, camshafts, and crank shafts. Precision grinding of outside shaft diameters provides near-perfect fit between gears, bearings and other mating components. OD grinding of these components enhances concentricity of the shaft to its centerline while ensuring that accompanying diameters are concentric to one another. Offset ODs for non-concentric diameters, such as crank pin journals and cam lobes, are also precision ground. For this application, special crank and camshaft grinders are required. They can be programmed to grind both on-center and offset diameters on the same shaft. Likewise, ID grinding is required for precise fitting of brake cylinders, connecting rods and other applications.

There are hundreds of CNC vertical machining center (VMC) builders to choose from, and often their spec sheets look pretty much the same. Here’s how to differentiate one from another.

In-cycle non-cutting time mainly comprises rapid-traverse moves and tool changes. The rapid rate is always on the spec sheet, but just as important is the axis acceleration/deceleration rates because they determine how quickly max speed can be achieved. If moves are small, the real rapid rate may not matter at all, but larger moves (and parts) can, indeed, be consequential.

Industry 4.0. Industrial Internet of Things. Factory of the future. Digital thread. Such terms define a supposed new era in manufacturing, and industry events like the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) buzz with discussion of smart machine tools, smart robots, smart gages and smart everything. However, many terms in this heady new lexicon can seem meaningless for CNC machine shops.

Make no mistake: There is real promise for machining businesses in an era when seemingly anything can have an IP address. Application stories published in Modern Machine Shop prove that. The stories also prove that a shop doesn’t have to meet anyone’s grandiose definition of a “smart factory” to base decisions on real-world evidence, and that is the essence of data-driven manufacturing. The reason for the revolution is that we can now act on evidence that would be unknowable or inherently outdated without the capability to pull data directly from shopfloor equipment. Taken as a whole, our coverage indicates that those hoping to join in have three essential tasks ahead: to connect, to monitor and to be prepared. 

If you’re a manufacturing engineer who wants to learn about additive manufacturing (AM), how do you do it? Hit up your local maker space and borrow time on a desktop printer? Engage with one of the many equipment OEMs and get trained on their specific systems and software? Get the budget to buy one and find the time to figure it out? 

Unlike conventional manufacturing, there’s no obvious path from student or manufacturing engineer to “additive manufacturing engineer.” Or at least, there hasn’t been. But the path is starting to take shape at some higher education institutions. Certificate programs are one model, but Penn State University has another: a full-blown master’s degree in additive manufacturing and design. 

Time flies. It is amazing that we’re on the ninth edition of our annual Top Shops benchmarking survey. It is also the case that this year’s online survey is coming to a close. The survey ends on February 28.

We provide the survey so that owners and managers of machine shops can compare their key performance indicators with leading U.S. machine shops. The survey does not only cover technology and shopfloor practices and performance, but also business strategies, workforce development and other front-office aspects of running a successful operation.

RSS RSS  |  Atom Atom