(Springboro, OH) In 2009, we did a story on how the “Grinding Detectives” at CGS (Complete Grinding Solutions) were resolving some difficult grinding problems for their customers. At that time the company was operating out of a 1500 sq. ft. shop with a fully loaded Studer S40 Universal Grinder and two full-time employees (owners Beat Maurer and Raphael Obrecht).
We are pleased to report the expertise and technology employed by Beat and Raphael in behalf of their customers is paying off in a big way. CGS recently moved into a new 10,000 square foot facility (five times bigger than the old one.) The new shop is starting out with seven grinding systems. There are six full time employees and several others available on a part time basis for special projects. Today, CGS’ services range from consulting projects to full production manufacturing.
On the consulting side CGS works directly with many automotive and aerospace manufacturers as well as equipment builders. When one of these customers needs to develop an advanced grinding process, they will frequently have the machine shipped to CGS. Once all of the workflow details and process parameters have been established and fine tuned, the machine will be shipped production-ready to the end user.
Wheels Are Critical
Beat Maurer said, “In many ways bore and seat applications are very tricky and we primarily use Meister wheels for that reason. We have very tight roundness, straightness and finish requirements and therefore the wheel is one of the main ingredients in that process.”
“What we’re looking for in a Meister wheel is the ability to achieve such things as very tight finish, straightness, roundness and, of course, the size requirements. Then we want to spread the dressing interval out as much as we can, so we don’t have to dress all the time. By dressing less frequently you have less drift in your tolerances.” He added that dressing intervals on prototype processes tend to be shorter because the applications are so “precision intensive”. The interval could be after every part or up to 5 to 25 to 50 parts, depending on the application.
“We know the products very well so we know what works up front and it makes our life easier as well as shortening the time for getting processes up and running. Meister has the capability of tweaking whatever they have to tweak…the materials or the matrix or whatever… to get it to cut the way we need it. If we make some changes we can tell them to make the wheels softer, harder or whatever and fine-tune the process more quickly”, he said.
One of the latest additions at CGS is a new Studer S41 system with high-speed grinding capabilities. The wheel, spinning at up to 200 meters per second, peels the material away from the grind at high velocity. The majority of the parts made on this advanced grinding system are made of carbide.
“We are using Meister diamond abrasive wheels and getting super throughputs. It’s like we are using our grinding machine as if it were a lathe, so the wheel is cutting at very high velocity. Because the carbide is extremely hard, we can cut it straight through, like butter.”
For carbide manufacturing processes, CGS pushes the wheel as fast as it can go without breaking down. When the process is in the sweet spot, they will get 100-500 pieces between dress cycles. Then the grinder is set to remove a minimal amount of material– around two microns– for each dress. Wheels last a long time because, as Maurer explained, grinding at high speeds basically changes the characteristics of the wheel by putting all the forces and heat into the chips so the wheel does not take a lot of abuse.
Four-Year Grinding Technology Cycle
Maurer said that CGS is now leveling off where his company can take some time to explore all the advantages of its recently acquired technology. CGS has some major contracts to make fuel injectors for gasoline, diesel and gas powered vehicles. Many of those processes have now been dialed in. However, that won’t last too long. He has observed that it only takes about four years for technologies to change and OEMs to introduce new technologies that present even more challenging grinding requirements.
For example, small high-precision components like those used in fuel injectors are only getting smaller and smaller. This is a big challenge for wheels because even smaller sizes will be required to conform to the job at hand. When you are dealing with extremely small bores and angles, wheel pressures can increase almost exponentially. Small wall thicknesses are another major concern.
“If you go in with, for example, a 2mm wheel and the wall thickness is maybe 1mm, you have to make sure that those grits can hold on to it. In addition, there are all new materials that come along like some ceramic components and special coatings that apply to the component and to the wheel as well.”
What goes around comes around. Maurer said, “As CGS solves today’s technical challenges, our customers give us more work. So you have the production challenges. Then you get the next generation of product come along and, with the help of suppliers like Meister, you figure out how you can do it.”