Tool Grinding for the CNC Machine Tool Industry

Posted on Nov 19, 2020

Tool grinding

A tool and cutter grinder is used to sharpen milling cutters and tool bits along with a host of other cutting tools. Tool grinding is a subspecialty of the larger field of grinding technology, and quite specific.

It requires advanced equipment and is all machining-based production process using abrasives or custom grinding wheels that make or produce and re-sharpen a machine tool or workpiece.

It is an extremely versatile machine used to perform a variety of grinding operations: surfaces, cylinders or complex shapes. The way it works is through a manually operated configuration, however, highly automated CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machines are becoming more popular because of the cost and due to the complexity of the process.

The operation of this machine (especially the manually operated variety) requires a high level of skill. The two main skills needed are to understand the relationship between the grinding wheel and the metal being cut and to know the tool geometry.

The configuration shown is only one of the many combinations available. The huge variety of shapes and types of cutters requires flexibility in use. The kit includes many dedicated holders that allow you to grind cylindrical operations or complex angles. The vice for parts can rotate in three planes.

The cutting apparatus can be manipulated in the lenghtwise and backwards and forwards movement. Also the head can swivel and it is infinitely movable in the horizontal plane, as visible. This versitile positioning of the cutting head provides the critical clearance angles required by the various cutters to be achieved.


CNC Tool Grinder or Cutter Grinder

A modern CNC tool grinder with automatic wheel pack exchanger and tool loading capabilities.

Modern tool and cutter grinders are usually found with controlers of the CNC type on a machine tool, usually, 5 axes, which produces endmills, drills, step tools, etc. which are widely used in the metal cutting and woodworking industries.

Nowadays the CNC tool and cutter grinders enhance efficiences by typically being highly capable with features such as automatic tool loading as well as the ability to support multiple grinding wheels. High levels of automation, as well as automatic in-machine tool measurement and compensation, allow extended periods of unmanned production.

With careful process configuration and appropriate tool support, tolerances less than 5 micrometers (0.0002") can be consistently achieved even on the most complex parts.

Apart from manufacturing, in-machine tool measurement using touch-probe or laser technology allows cutting tools to be reconditioned. During normal use, cutting edges either wear and/or chip. The geometric features of cutting tools can be automatically measured within the CNC tool grinder.

The geometric features of cutting tools can be automatically measured within the CNC tool grinder and the tool ground to return cutting surfaces to optimal conditions.

Significant advances in software have made it possible to use CNC tool grinders and cutters in many industries. Advanced CNC grinders are equipped with advanced software that allows you to design geometrically complex parts parametrically or using third-party CAD / CAM software.

It is possible to simulate the entire grinding process and the finished part in 3D, as well as detect possible mechanical collisions and calculate the production time. These features enable parts to be designed and validated and the optimization of the manufacturing process entirely within the software environment.

Tool and milling grinders can be adapted to manufacture precision machine parts. A machine used for these purposes would most likely be called a CNC grinding system.

CNC grinding systems are widely used to manufacture parts for the aerospace, medical, automotive and other industries. Extremely hard and exotic materials are generally not a problem for today's grinding systems, and multi-axis machines are capable of generating quite complex geometries.


Radius grinder for tool grinder

The radius grinder (or radius tool grinder) is a special grinder used to grind the most complex tool forms and is the historic predecessor of the CNC tool and milling grinder. Like a CNC grinder, it can be used for other tasks where it is necessary to grind spherical surfaces.

The tool itself consists of three parts: a grinding head, a work table, and a clamping fixture. The grinder head has three degrees of freedom. Vertical movement, movement into the workpiece, and tilt. They are usually set statically and left constant while the operation is being performed.

The worktable is an X-axis table with a T-slot mounted on top of a radial fixture. Mounting the X-axis on top of the radiation table, as opposed to the reverse side, allows complex and fine grinding of the rays.

The holding fixture can be anything that can be mounted on a grooved table, but the most common is a collet or chuck that indexes and has a separate Y movement to allow for accurate depth setting and endmill sharpening. Dressers used in these grinders are usually quite expensive and can dress the wheel itself with a certain radius.


Tool Grinding for a Bit grinder D-shaped

The D-tip grinder (after Deckel, a brand of the original manufacturer) is a tooltip grinder intended for the production of single-lip cutters for pantograph milling machines.

Pantographs are a variety of milling machines used to create die cavities used in the forming process; are largely obsolete and replaced by CNC machining centers in the modern industry.

With the addition of auxiliary holders, the single-layer grinding capability can also be used for grinding lathe drills and straight faceted profiles on the tips of drill bits or end mills.

The machine is sometimes advertised as a "universal cutter-grinder", but the "universal" term refers only to the range of compound angles available, not that the machine is capable of sharpening the universe of tools. The machine is not capable of sharpening drill bits in the standard profiles or generating any convex or spiral profiles.

These are the main uses of the tool grinder for the CNC machine tool industry.


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