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In the pursuit of precision

Acquistion fuses grinding quality with in-process gauging and automatic wheel balancing

Posted on 23 Nov 2021 and read 555 times
In the pursuit of precisionIn 2019 Accretech acquired the balancing company SBS. In the two years since the purchase the synergy between the brands has resulted a wide range of benefits to global manufacturers, not least within the area of grinding.

In addition to many other machine tool and inspection applications, Accretech provides high-precision in-process gauging that delivers real-time measurement during grinding cycles, while SBS is a leading company within the field of grinding wheel balancing and grinding process monitoring. Both Accretech and SBS products can be specified as OEM equipment on new grinding machines or retrofitted to existing machines.

A precision-grinding company that relies on both Accretech and SBS products to ensure the manufacture of premium-quality high-precision ground products is Tamworth-based SWD Precision Ltd.

Challenging specifications

Founded in 2002 by managing director Stephen Drew, the company specialises in all areas of precision grinding and has a variety of manual and CNC universal grinders, cylindrical grinders, bore grinders, surface grinders and jig grinders; and given the demanding sectors SWD Precision serves — including Formula One — and the ‘challenging specifications’ of many of the components it produces, the pursuit of precision lies at the core of the company’s culture.

To help ensure that SWD Precision continues to deliver the standards of precision for which it has become renowned, the company makes regular investments in not only first-class machine tools but also advanced production aids that enable its machine tools to achieve their full potential regarding precision and productivity.

Having recently ordered a universal grinder from Timeline Machine Tools, Mr Drew travelled to central China to observe the production and assembly of his new machine and to pass it off; and although the machine had been specified with an Accretech in-process gauging system, it was decided to retrofit an SBS balancing system once the machine had been installed, to further expand its capabilities.

In consultation with the technical staff of Accretech UK it was decided that an SBS non-contact automatic balancing system consisting of an SB-5500 controller, an external balance head and an ‘acoustic emission monitoring system card’ would provide the ideal system. The compact SB-5500 controller features an all-digital electronic design, a large high-resolution detachable display and provides ‘unsurpassed accuracy of up to 0.02µm’ at speeds from 300 to 30,000rev/min.

Proven capability

Mr Drew said: “Having enjoyed the benefits of using an SBS balancer that was retrofitted to one of our Jones & Shipman machines, we were keen to fit a similar system to our new Timeline universal grinder. As the machine was already fitted with Accretech in-process gauging we are now reaping the high-precision benefits and efficiency gains of using Accretech in-process gauging in combination with an SBS balancing system on a single machine.

“We produce precision-ground components for motor-sport and other equally demanding sectors and for applications where a high-precision ground finish is required. We deal with small batch work and undertake short production runs, therefore it helps that, in addition to increasing our grinding throughput and saving setting time, our new SBS balancing system is now ensuring a high level of part quality by automatically balancing our grinding process to an accuracy of 0.02µm. In short, our use of the SB-5500 balancing system has helped us to realise the full accuracy and productive capabilities of our new universal grinder.

“As grinding is a dynamic process, out-of-balance influences constantly change. For instance, following the installation and balancing of a new grinding wheel, the wheel’s balance will soon start to deteriorate owing to causes such as wheel wear, absorption of coolant and the consequences of wheel dressing. Achieving an acceptable balance condition is critical, as out-of-balance situations can bring about quality problems, such as out of tolerance workpiece geometries and sub-standard surface finish levels.

“Just a small degree of out-of-balance can produce a range of issues, including excessive grinding wheel wear — and the need for premature bearing replacement. The use of SBS balancing systems allows users to accurately monitor and automatically correct imbalanced grinding wheels and to avoid costly problems.”

Tim Wood, Accretech’s regional director (North Europe), added: “The demands on CNC grinding processes in automated and industrial applications can be extremely challenging. For example, many businesses are looking to achieve extremely demanding surface finish, geometric and dimensional specifications in the shortest cycle times possible.

Therefore, diameter, size and position must be precisely and continuously measurable during the grinding cycle. Only by the constant acquisition of precise measurement data can specified tolerances be adhered to and an economical and high-quality CNC grinding process be guaranteed. The use of Accretech products allows all of these objectives to be realised.

“Similarly, the dynamic balancing systems developed by SBS helps to ensure ground components’ premium quality as they can detect minute vibrations and dynamically correct them. SBS acoustic emissions sensors help to maximise the efficiency of grinding processes, improve parts throughput, and cut operating costs.”