Aldershot-based FT Gearing Systems has developed a close working relationship with Swiss grinding machine manufacturer Studer and the company’s UK agent, Advanced Grinding Supplies. The successful use of the advanced CNC grinders and growth of the company has led to regular additional investments, resulting in FT Gearing Systems now having eight Studer CNC grinders.
The company’s most recently opened satellite unit is dedicated to the production of gear technology and precision components for Rolls-Royce aero engines. In addition to other advanced machine tools, the facility houses four Studer grinders, including FT Gearing’s recently purchased Studer Favorit model.
“We pursue a policy of using advanced Studer CNC grinding machines to achieve levels of accuracy and repeatability that conventional grinding machines are unable to compete with,” says managing director Graham Fitzgerald. “For instance, we are able to attain sub-micron total cylindricity on 35 mm diameter gear journals with 0.08 µm surface finish, and achieve gear flatness to three light bands.
“As our existing Studer grinders have delivered excellent levels of precision, surface finish and reliability, when the need arose for additional, premium quality grinding capacity, Studer remained our first choice,” he adds. “With the help of Peter Harding, the owner Advanced Grinding Supplies, we specified the Favorit CNC universal cylindrical grinding machine to match our challenging requirements. Now in regular use, our new Studer grinder is now producing high volumes of work to demanding quality standards.”
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Advanced Grinding Solutions (AGS) says it has received a number of enquiries for lapping machines since being appointed as the sole UK distributor for the FLP range of machines.
FLP constructs single-disc and double-disc machines, as well as a range of consumables that include diamond paste, powder, spray and lapping and polishing fluids, and tooling such as carrier plates and rings. The company also offers a subcontract lapping facility for its customers.
However, a further service available from FLP is rebuilt used machines, often from stock, which have been re-manufactured to as-new standard. The company can also supply replacement spare and wear parts for all market established machines, such as those from Stähli, Wolters, Wenzky, Melchiorre, Lapmaster and Speedfam.
It is the rebuild options that seem to have attracted a lot of attention from UK companies looking to update their in-house lapping and fine-grinding capabilities without incurring the costs of purchasing new machines. Many customers opt to purchase rebuilt machines rather than having their own machines overhauled as it means that production is not affected and costs remain more or less the same. Furthermore, customers can always opt at a later date to send old machines to FLP by way of a part-exchange deal.
Regardless of the type and size of a customer’s old fine grinding, flat honing, lapping or polishing machine – FLP will carry out process and technology orientated improvements and general overhauls. Processes include the replacement of sub-assemblies for which spare parts can no longer be supplied, retrofitting of automation such as PLCs, and the replacement of materials with more wear resistant types, for example rustproof steel.
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Hurco says that precision honing can now be performed on one of its standard vertical machining centres. Through a partnership with Indiana-based honing specialist Bates Technologies, the solution offers advantages over dedicated honing machines that include reduced investment costs and fewer set-ups.
The process is performed on a Hurco VMX series BT40 vertical machining centre as follows. First, a touch probe held in the tool magazine is deployed in the spindle to verify the bore diameter and ensure that the correct program is loaded. The probe then takes another measurement further into the bore to ensure it is straight enough to be machined. Assuming it is straight, the diameter is rough-bored to the correct size for honing. A honing tool with a standard back end is then exchanged automatically into the spindle and through-coolant is used to activate and control tool expansion, pushing the stones outward while the hone reciprocates and rotates. An in-process air-gauge system enables bore size to be monitored continuously.
Once the programmed diameter is achieved, a signal is sent from the air gauge to the Max control of the Hurco machining centre to stop the honing cycle. Finally, the bore is brushed with a soft-finish hone to smooth the high points and provide the required surface finish. Once again, coolant is used to control expansion and pressure.
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The installation of a Walter Helitronic Power five-axis tool grinder has given woodworking tooling manufacturer Leitz “unprecedented higher levels of flexibility and capability” in the regrinding of back-to-original specification own-brand tools for the woodworking, plastics and advanced materials processing sectors.
“In addition to enabling us to process regrinds much more quickly,” says Derek Statham, works manager and national service manager at the Harlow-based company, “our new Helitronic Power has opened the door for us to a new world of manufacturing special-purpose HSS, carbide and PCD tools – both shank-type tooling and profile cutters”.
While Leitz’s extensive tool catalogue is based on close co-operation within the group’s expertise, Statham adds that “this new-found ability for producing and servicing bespoke tooling will further cement the close working relationships we have with all our customers – companies of every size from one-man bands up to blue chip organisations with global interests”.
He continues: “Being able to provide tooling solutions to meet their needs in fast turn-round times will only reinforce the successful partnerships we already have.”
The Walter Helitronic Power can accommodate tools from 3 to 320 mm diameter and up to 350 mm long, each weighing up to 50 kg. X, Y and Z axes are 460, 320 and 660 mm respectively, while the C axis range is ±200°. Rapid traverse rate in X, Y and Z is 15 m/min, and grinding speed is up to 10,500 rpm.
For further information www.walter-machines.com