Tool Grinder's CNC Facilitates Unattended Automation
Star Cutter’s NTG 6RL five-axis tool and cutter grinding machine, based on NUM’s Flexium+ CNC platform, automates the high-speed production and reconditioning of complex cutting tools.
The grinder machine handles fluting, tertiary grinding, relief grinding and automated wheel changing. The NUMDrive X modules accommodate third-party linear and direct-drive torque motors as well as high-frequency grinding spindle motors. The bandwidth of the servo drive and internal processing are said to provide sub-picometer accuracy.
The platform can run grinding programs as large as 40 MB directly from the NCK memory. The CNC executes complex cycles from the system’s disk drive via a high-speed data transfer protocol, expanding CAD/CAM grinding operations.
The grinding machine’s servo-assisted popup mechanical steady rest takes advantage of the system and drive modules’ detachable axes. Users can place the rest into the machine for longer parts and remove the full motor and mechanical assembly when it is not needed.
The operator station is designed to simplify machine setup and operation. The optional six-axis robotic part loader essentially programs itself with NUMroto tool files, according to NUM. Notifications can be set to alert shop personnel of process completion or issues during unattended production.
The machine can be integrated with automation systems and handling robots. The CNC platform offers a variety of system communication busses. Measured process or post-process data can be fed back to the NUMRoto software for on-the-fly corrections, facilitating adaptive, real-time control of the grinding process. Shop floor data can be shared with the plant and to the cloud with an MTConnect interface.
Roughing and finishing on a single machine, using a single setup, has appeal for most shops. The advantages in time savings and accuracy are obvious. Eliminating the transport of workpieces between machines, as well as the setup for those secondary operations, is a boon for throughput. Critical features that need to maintain dimensional relationships can be much more reliably produced if machined complete in one clamping.
Two enabling technologies -- superabrasive wheels and high precision servo control -- come together to provide a contour grinding process that resembles an OD turning operation. For many medium volume OD grinding applications, this method may be a means to consolidate several manufacturing steps into a single setup.
Advanced grinding equipment gives this shop the flexibility and automation it needs to serve customers with either rapid-response or high-volume jobs.