The world’s first hybrid grinding machine, integrating surface and profile grinding with Additive Manufacturing in a single setup, has been developed by Elb-Schliff WZM GmbH, Germany, in collaboration with Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies, UK.
The new system, named millGrind, is a continuous-dress creep-feed grinding machine equipped with Ambit™ laser cladding and milling capabilities. “This millGrind machine offers a new level of flexibility by reducing the number of setups needed to get to finished parts. We believe that our customers will benefit from both the ability to add metal and mill features together with precision grinding surfaces and profiles. This multi-tasking machine breaks new ground for time and cost savings and is aimed squarely at aerospace applications,” stated Dr Markus Stanik, ELB’s Managing Director.
MillGrind is the first Additive Manufacturing product from ELB and was developed in collaboration with Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies. Dr Jason Jones, CEO of Hybrid stated, “It has been a privilege to join with ELB to produce the world’s first hybrid grinding machine. The ability to automatically change between precision grinding, milling, and AMBIT™ metal deposition sets this machine apart in a class of its own. Perhaps most exciting is that precision ground surface finishes are now achievable in-process on parts made by additive manufacturing.”
Although the perceived cost of grinding is often higher than milling, when used appropriately it can provide dramatically more cost-effective material removal as well as a superior surface finish, often an order of magnitude improvement over milling. Grinding particularly excels in cost-effectiveness for processing materials that are difficult to machine, such as nickel-based superalloys.
The millGrind runs conventional abrasives (corundum) with superabrasive capability and has an XYZ resolution of 1/10th of a micron (0.0001 mm). Changeover between grinding wheels (both grinding wheel and dressing tools) can be done in a matter of seconds. In addition, the 8,000 RPM spindle can be automatically loaded with milling cutters for drilling, tapping and other milling operations as needed.
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