What is Grinding Used for in Precision Engineering?
The process of grinding is one that has been used in manufacturing and other industries for centuries in different forms. In modern precision engineering, the combination of high tech computer software and a range of grinding options means that there are greater variations of grinding available than ever before. But what are these machines used for in precision engineering?
There are three main types of grinding that are used in different industries to complete different jobs:
- Surface grinding – also known as horizontal grinding, where a rotating abrasive wheel removes material and creates a flat surface, often used on cast iron and different types of steel as well as some plastics
- Cylindrical grinding – also known as centred grinding, this grinds cylindrical surfaces as well as the shoulders of the material with the workpiece mounted on centres and rotated
- Creed feed grinding – the most recent addition, this is used to remove greater amounts of material in ways similar to a mill turn lathe or other milling equipment
Specialist engineering grinding
Within these bigger categories are smaller types of grinding equipment that are used in precision engineering in Dorset and around the UK. These offer particular approaches or techniques that are useful for different projects, especially when creating a prototype for proof of concept or working a concept design to be ready for small scale production.
Centreless grinding is where the workpiece has a blade that is it supported by as opposed to the usual centres. Most of the time, two wheels are used with the larger ones grinding the surface and the smaller one guiding the axial movement of the workpiece.
Honing is a grinding technique that uses an abrasive stone which moves along a controlled path with the aim of producing a precision surface. It is often used to improve either surface texture or to improve the geometric form of the component. Examples of its use include in air bearing spindles and gears as well as cylinders for internal combustion engines.
Grinding with other techniques
Grinding may be a traditional technique given a modern approach, but it also works well with the very latest in state of the art engineering technologies. For example, it can be used alongside Simultaneous 3 Axis or 4 Axis milling, Solid Modelling and even CAD/CAM computer design.
Components can be 3D printed for the prototype then grinding equipment used to create the small scale production components for further testing. 3D milling and 3D scanning can also be paired with these traditional techniques for the best possible engineering components.
A modern approach
The modern grinding equipment options have come a long way from the types of grindstones that were once used to grind or sharpen tools. These sandstones wheels were pedal operated and did a solid job. Grindstones were mentions as early as the 800s.
Today’s modern grinding equipment is computer operated, highly accurate and able to work on both natural and manmade materials with the highest degree of accuracy in a way that the old grindstone operator would never have believed possible.