Elcometer invests in high-performance grinding

Posted on 10 Sep 2017 and read 592 times
Elcometer invests in high-performance grinding For more than 70 years, Elcometer Ltd has been a leading designer, manufacturer and supplier of coating inspection equipment, physical test equipment and ultrasonic NDT products.

The company recently closed its production facility in Belgium to consolidate its manufacturing and CNC machining operations at a single location in Manchester.

Now with a purpose-built CNC machining facility, it has been able to both maximise its productivity and simplify the control and management of its business.

Elcometer has equipped its 17,200ft2 UK production centre with a range of CNC machine tools, including vertical and horizontal machining centres, sliding-head lathes and grinding machines — many of which feature robotic loading and unloading.

One of the company’s recent purchases was an SR-80/40 CNC surface grinder from the Spanish manufacturer GER, supplied by UK and Ireland agent International Manufacturing Solutions Ltd (IMSL), Llanelli (www.imsl.eu).

Paul Bowes, Elcometer’s machine shop manager, said: “Our products are designed to comply with national and international standards; and as our instruments need to provide very accurate readings — often in less than perfect environments — quality is central to our culture.

“Since the expansion of our UK manufacturing facilities, we have made significant investments in advanced new production systems.

“When the need recently arose for a high-quality surface grinder, we were mindful of the quality of the GER grinders previously used in our Belgium facility. That said, we did consider a number of other machines.

“To enable a thorough assessment of the GER offering, a visit to the company’s factory in Northern Spain was organised.

“We also arranged for grinding tests on one of our most demanding components by an SR-8/40 CNC machine. Having had the accuracy of the resulting ground component verified by an independent metrology company, we were convinced that the GER machine was the ideal machine for our needs.”

The first part of the grinding tests involved precisely surface-grinding the component to ensure flatness and parallelism.

Then, over a length of 127mm, two 12mm-wide angled grooves were ground into the component’s top face; these grooves had to be perfectly equal and remain within challenging tolerance limits.

After a trouble-free installation, and following operator training, the GER grinder is now producing high volumes of precision components, which often feature single-figure micron tolerances and demanding surface finishes.

When performing an operation for the first time, it helps that Elcometer’s staff have access to a remote diagnostic link to GER; this allows an applications engineer to take control of the machine and quickly overcome a problem.

Mr Bowes said: “Soon after our purchase of the GER SR-80/40, we inherited two further GER machines from our former European plant — a C600 CNC cylindrical grinder and an SCA 60-40 CNC surface grinder.

“As a result, we now use GER machines exclusively in our dedicated grinding cell; these undertake tasks ranging from simple accurate flat-grinding to high-accuracy profile grinding.

“We also undertake the grinding of very accurate yet complex cylindrical components, using C-axis interpolation to generate very precise profiles.”

IMSL says GER is one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of CNC grinding machines, with more than 60 years’ experience.

The company’s products are currently in use in more than 25 countries and in a wide variety of industries; these include aerospace and automotive, as well as manufacturers of bearings, gears and punches. They are also used by general engineering companies.

All of the major components of GER’s SR CNC series of surface grinders are manufactured from pearlitic cast iron, and they incorporate ribbed rigid-box sections to provide maximum damping characteristics, strength and stability.

A T-section main bed supports the moving column. Digital servo motors driving high-precision ballscrews operate the X-axis table movement, the Y-axis vertical movement and the Z-axis cross movement.

All machines feature Fanuc controls, a 15in LCD colour touch screen, and GER software that provides user-friendly conversational programming with graphic images and grinding cycles to guide the operator.

Dressing and grinding profiles can be simulated, and there is automatic compensation for wheel diameter and speed.

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