Small grinding center offers big productivity boost
01/07/2013 - Oliver Hagenlocher
Automobile manufacturers all over the world were able to enjoy an increase in their turnover figures last year! The biggest increases were experienced in the USA, China, India and Russia. However, the rapidly increasing number in vehicles also brought some production challenges – for instance the sub-contractors’, have to deal with the increasing output levels and also have to ensure that process safety and component quality do not suffer. In fact, even the smallest components with complex geometries have to be produced with increasing levels of precision. In the development of the VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center from EMAG, the grinding specialists have made sure that the machine concept offers efficient, error-free machining processes for the production of small chucked components.
Small chucked components are typically produced in large quantities. The demand for components, such as gearwheels, planetary gears, chain gears and flanged components for cars, for instance, have necessary quantities that typically go into the millions; and short cycle times in the production of these components have become mandatory. For instance, the internal contour of a gearwheel must be ground in the shortest possible time and the machine’s workholding unit must be loaded with a new workpiece just as quickly. In many production environments this represents a critical moment, because the idle time is commonly a decisive factor in establishing the economic viability of the whole process.
Automatic loading scores heavily
High output levels – short cycle times. This is exactly what the VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center from EMAG, for small chucked components with a maximum diameter of 100 mm, was developed for. The machine utilizes its pick-up system to load itself. And while one workpiece is being machined, the operator – or the automation system – is putting the raw-parts on the conveyor belt. This reduces idle times and increases output rates. Another benefit is the vertical machining concept; the design ensures that the grinding sludge falls to the bottom of the machine unhindered, where it is then transported out of the machine.
Quality control is integrated
Measuring processes can also be integrated into the machine, making quality control an integral part of the whole process. The measuring probe is located between the machining area and pick-up station, where it is protected from contamination.
In use are two different grinding wheels
An important feature of the VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center is that it offers the possibility to use two grinding spindles, which can be used to perform different grinding operations, or to handle both rough- and finish-grinding work. In other words, the first wheel performs the “rough” job of removing excess material from the raw-part at high feedrates (the CBN wheel is specially designed to absorb the necessary forces), while the second wheel (with different specifications) takes over the finishing work to guarantee a perfect surface finish on even the most challenging geometries. With the help of this intelligent tooling combination, EMAG design engineers have succeeded in drastically reducing the grinding time of even very complex components. “For the removal of large amounts, two wheels offer a shorter cycle time than one, with the first wheel designed to do the rough-grinding and the second one in charge of finish-grinding work”, explains Dr. Guido Hegener, Managing Director of EMAG Salach Maschinenfabrik GmbH.
A convincing machine concept
The combination of fast loading and efficient grinding processes leads to a very compelling machine concept. The VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center works very well with the dynamic developments in automotive production. Now with the rapid increase in required quantities, the demand is for new machine concepts that can be integrated into existing production without any problem. With the VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center two features enable it to be integrated without any problems. “Programming the workpieces with our new EMAG NAVIGATOR software is simple and intuitive, saving valuable setup time. For many production environments this is an advantage that should not be underrated, “confirms Dr. Hegener. Furthermore, the exceptionally small floor plan for the VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center should make the work of every production planner easier. The stand-alone machine only takes up around 4.5 square meters (48 square feet), making sure that the growth of a production facility of this kind will not be limited by floor space requirements.
The advantages of the VLC 100 G Vertical Grinding Center
- Compact grinder with the highest precision
- The machine can accommodate both internal and external grinding spindles.
- Integral automation, short travel times = short chip-to-chip times
- Vertical machining = unhindered chip flow, with the grinding sludge falling to the bottom
- Optimal access = fast setups
- Great process safety through the use of an optional measuring probe