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TOWARD A SCIENCE OF GRINDING

Grinding is moving from its earlier status as an art into that of a technology by the work of research programs at universities working in cooperation with abrasive manufacturers and machine builders.
One of the factors promoting this development is the need for ever smaller tolerances on parts such as fuel injectors (widely used in vehicles). Turning alone no longer provides the required precision for these and other critical components. In some cases, such as the production of jet engine turbine blades, conventional chipmaking processes cannot economically machine the materials.
Reentrant cam profiles, needed for engines to be both economical and powerful, require much smaller grinding wheel diameters to produce the required shape. This is a place to utilize superabrasives having low wear characteristics. The machinery to utilize superabrasives, such as cubic boron nitride (CBN), requires improved stiffness and accurate control mechanisms, hence spurring the development of improved grinding machines. Multiaxis numerically controlled grinding machines are appearing in ever greater numbers.
The need for greater abrasive speed is spurring the development of spindles capable of higher speeds and load carrying capacity, requiring careful temperature control.
The higher speeds make automatic high-speed balancing necessary.
Cooling in the grinding interface is being studied in depth. Coolants are also being given careful study to be effective and to minimize environmental impact. Even the disposal process for used grinding wheels is getting attention, sometimes resulting in designs of wheels with segmented rims so that abrasive wheels can be repaired and refurbished.
Because most abrasives are manufactured to meet specific requirements, attention is being paid to the development of abrasives (particularly superabrasives) that have a sharper crystalline structure combined with high toughness, which in turn require less power and hence produce less heat in the grinding process.
Even conventional abrasives, which make up some 85 percent of grinding wheels, are improving with higherstrength bonds and the inclusion of ceramic forms of the abrasive into the wheel content.
In-process laser removal of workpiece inclusions in grinding wheels (loading) is now being introduced to improve the grinding process.

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