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CNC Upgrade Produces State-of-the-Art Grinder for 60% Less Than a New Machine

The grinding specialist RefreshEng has launched a re-engineered centerless grinder based on one of the world's most widely-used machines, with the aid of software development support from CNC vendor NUM. Controlled by NUM's Flexium CNC kernel, the upgrade solution converts any of the veteran Cincinnati 2-OM family of centerless grinder machines to the same kind of automated and precision machining available on state-of-the-art grinders -- but for an outlay that is some 60% lower than a new machine.

Initially, the new NUM CNC based machine is targeted at centerless grinding applications in the aerospace industry, and comes with application-specific software to automate the production of the specialist countersink, button-head and relief style fasteners used in aviation fuselage and engine production.

RefreshEng's CNC upgrade solution is offered in four variants, with a choice of three autoloading options. The NUM-based upgrades transform the Cincinnati 2-OM's original hydraulic- and mechanical-dressing architecture -- with its fixed cam-and-stylus control -- to an advanced CNC software-based system with up to seven axes of servomotor-based motion depending on customer choices.

To complete the automation upgrade to the highest standards, RefreshEng incorporates numerous advanced features to optimize productivity, precision and operator safety. These include acoustic sensors that automatically monitor and compensate for grinding wheel wear. The machine also uses the sensing system to dynamically adjust grinding wheel feedrate to provide 'gap elimination'; this feature alone can reduce grinding cycle times by almost 20% across a batch of raw material parts with varying dimensions.

Higher resolution control of movement, and the ability to interpolate movement of motion axes, improves both grinding accuracy and extends the range of shapes that can be ground. The grinding wheel has been fitted with a Schmitt Balancing System, which dynamically eliminates vibration. Wheel speed can also be varied to suit different component materials. Another key feature is a choice of drop-, finger- or front-loading loaders to automate the broad range of common centerless grinding applications. The finger loader accepts a very large variation in part size from 10mm long x 3mm diameter up to 200 x 25mm.

"The Flexium upgrade we've devised provides an economic CNC solution that brings the workhorse 2-OM range of machines bang up to date in terms of precision, programming flexibility and automation -- boosting productivity substantially", says Damian Clements, CEO of RefreshEng. "Capital investment cost is reduced by such a large margin compared with a new machine that payback can be as short as a few months -- which is critical for many of the manufacturers in this highly competitive sector. The new machine also automates all aspects of the centerless grinding process, eliminating any need for manual interventions such as loading and hand finishing, to deliver a much higher level of safety."

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