What is Surface Grinding?

What is Surface Grinding?

The machining process known as surface grinding is generally used on flat surfaces to produce a smooth, polished finish. It is a common procedure that involves an abrasive grinding wheel spinning at high speed. The wheel gradually slices through rough surfaces until they are smooth. The process is suitable for all types of metallic and non-metallic materials and can also be used for irregular and angled surfaces.

Although it is a similar procedure to machine milling, surface grinding is an efficient precision engineering technique that outperforms any other process, resulting in finishes with an outstanding degree of accuracy.

Surface grinding machinery falls into several categories. The most commonly used is a horizontal spindle with a reciprocating table. The grinding wheel is usually held in a fixed position, but as it spins and cuts, the piece of work is manoeuvred back and forth. A vertical spindle with a reciprocating table operates in a similar manner with the wheel grinding a moving piece of work. The only difference is that the cutting depth is set vertically instead of horizontally. This procedure is often preferred for long castings. A horizontal spindle with a rotary table allows the piece of work to rotate through 360 degrees in either direction beneath the grinding wheel. The wheel itself is mounted on machinery that moves it back and forth across the piece of work. A vertical spindle with a rotary table uses the same procedure, but the wheel moves up and down.

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Why Use Surface Grinding for Your Project?

Surface grinding is one of the most widely used precision engineering techniques in many areas of manufacturing. The surface grinding machinery itself is highly versatile. It is equipped with an extensive range of grinding wheels to achieve efficient, effective results at all stages of the finishing process. It can be used for implementing the first cuts to chip away a rough outline on a piece of work and continues through to the finest level of grinding to produce a highly accurate, smoothly polished finish.

The accuracy of surface grinding is incredible. It can be set to precise dimensions down to measurements as minute as 0.0001 inches. Both the pieces of work and the grinding wheels are held perfectly locked in position by a series of integrated chucks to ensure accurate results. The same level of high-quality precision can be achieved for any material, whether metal or non-metal.

It is the versatility of surface grinding that enables it to surpass other manufacturing procedures such as milling and planing. Surface grinding machinery can also accommodate pieces of work in a wide variety of lengths, widths and depths to produce a high-quality finish. Modern surface grinding machinery usually has the additional advantage of both manual and automatic operation. The skills of highly-qualified engineers are invaluable in many aspects of surface grinding, including setting up and adjusting intricate pieces of work. Programmable automation enables uncomplicated work to be surface ground with fast, efficient results.

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How does Surface Grinding Work?

Surface grinding is an abrasive engineering technique that uses a grinding wheel rotating at high speed to trim away excess material. It removes minute layers of metallic or non-metallic materials to produce an accurate, finely polished surface. The grinding wheel is generally manufactured from a hard composite including silicon carbide and aluminium oxide. Aggregates known as Superabrasives often include diamond or ceramic grains. The coarse aggregate is usually compressed and bonded with a form of cement.

Surface grinders use either reciprocating or rotary tables to hold a piece of work in place. The work is held firmly by clamps or a series of electromagnets. The height of the grinder can then be adjusted to cut or grind the surface of the work to the required level. As the wheel reaches its appropriate speed, either the table is shunted backwards and forwards to allow the work to brush past the wheel or the grinding wheel itself moves across the work.

When using a rotary table, the piece of work can be further manoeuvred to allow different faces to be ground. Bespoke surface grinding wheels can be manufactured to achieve unique surface finishes for any project. Patterns or graining can be achieved with an accuracy of just 0.002 millimetres. Through a combination of manual and automatic operations, accuracy and precision are assured.

Surface grinding is highly suitable for steel and cast iron and also malleable materials such as brass, stainless steel, aluminium and plastic.

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What Types of Industries Use Surface Grinding?

Surface grinding is used to produce components for a vast array of diverse industries including those that require highly specialised equipment.

The medical industry relies on surface grinding to produce precision surgical instruments made from the finest materials. Intricate, miniaturised pieces such as surgical drills, scalpels, hypodermic needles and the interchangeable drill bits used in dentistry, are all provided with highly accurate polished finishes obtained through surface grinding.

Many of the components used in hip and knee surgery such as ball and socket joints, plus hip stems and femoral joints are finished with smooth accuracy through surface grinding.

The aerospace industry needs strong components that can withstand particularly stressful, pressurised atmospheric conditions and extreme temperature fluctuations.

Surface grinding is ideal for finishing a variety of precise components, including turbine shafts and rings.

Manufacturing requires strong components with an outstanding degree of accuracy.

Surface grinding is essential for finishing cams, shafts, spindles, roller bearings, ball screws, pistons and many other components including rotary tables.

Surface grinding is used in the die mould industry to produce stamping and thread dies, mould inserts and press brake tools. The technique is widely used throughout the tooling industry for components that require accuracy and a high-quality finish. Components include drill points, three and four jaw chucks, reamers and profile inserts.

Surface grinding is also ideal for shanks to hold tools in place, ring gauges, collets, HSK and ISO adaptors and many more applications.

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