Precision grinding techniques are critical in modern manufacturing, enabling the production of medtech, aerospace, and other mission-critical components with exceptional accuracy and quality. However, there are many facets to this incredibly advanced discipline. In this blog post, we dive deep into precision grinding, focusing on the unique advantages and applications of the following five grinding techniques:
- Through-feed centerless
- In-feed centerless
- Hybrid CNC centerless
- Guidewire centerless
- Multi-axis CNC OD/ID
By exploring the intricacies of these techniques, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of how precision grinding can elevate manufacturing processes and help you overcome even the thorniest challenge.
Through-feed centerless grinding is renowned for its association with ultra-precision manufacturing. This technique excels in producing parts with the highest level of precision, holding tolerances to sub-micron levels, and achieving exceptional roundness and cylindricity. It shines particularly well in smaller parts of various materials, typically those with 0.75” or less diameters. Through-feed centerless grinding is the go-to solution when tackling challenging components that demand thin-wall tubing and utmost accuracy, such as high-pressure hydraulics, aircraft braking systems, fuel injectors, mass spectrometers, and tightly controlled engine components.
Achieving such extraordinary precision requires a synergy of new high-end equipment, advanced abrasives, and skilled operators who deeply understand the through-feed centerless grinding process and the intricate science behind abrasive materials. Through-feed equipment is pushed to its limits by exceptionally precise tolerances, demanding specialized expertise to achieve optimal performance. Achieving diameters within a deviation of just 20 millionths of an inch exemplifies the precision that can be attained with the advanced knowledge and technologies of through-feed centerless grinding.
In-feed centerless grinding offers a different precision approach, where slides open and close to grind components, such as bolts with heads that cannot pass through the grinding wheel. This technique allows faster processing than other methods, leaving the head outside the wheel and grinding only the body. While it may not match the ultra-precision of through-feed grinding, in-feed centerless compensates with its remarkable versatility. With CNC-controlled axes, the simultaneous grinding of multiple diameters and other features is enabled, making it highly efficient. And similar to through-feed centerless grinding, this technique applies to a wide range of materials, including steel, plastics, and stainless steel. Some common applications include medical catheter mandrels, aircraft bolts, and plastic parts used in medical procedures.
Hybrid CNC Centerless
Hybrid CNC centerless grinding is a unique variation of centerless grinding that introduces additional axes of movement. This configuration transforms the machine from a single-axis grinder to a highly flexible three-axis system capable of imparting intricate features, angles, radii, and grooves on components. Hybrid CNC centerless grinding is particularly well-suited for producing small, intricate components used in medical device molds, such as core pins for pacemakers. While the technique also offers advantages in aerospace applications, it is particularly advantageous for medical devices.
Guidewire centerless grinding combines principles from both centerless grinding and Swiss screw machining. This hybrid approach excels in producing tiny wires with intricate and often multi-step configurations, vital for various medical applications, including cardiovascular and neurovascular devices. This specialized grinding technique demands highly skilled expertise and technical equipment, with only two types of machines available worldwide, both originating from New Jersey. Primarily employed in the medical field, guidewire grinding tackles wire sizes ranging from 1/16″ down to an astonishing 45 microns, approximately half the diameter of a human hair. Achieving success in guidewire grinding necessitates profound subject matter expertise, considering diverse sizes, materials, and configurations, including stainless steel, nitinol, and even titanium.
Interested in learning more about guidewire centerless grinding? Discover how medical guidewires are made and what to know before starting a guidewire project on our blog. You can also find out how we successfully produced life-saving, bend-free vascular guidewires when others failed.
Multi-Axis CNC OD/ID
Multi-axis CNC OD/ID grinding is a traditional technique resembling machining or lathe operations. This method enables high-precision work by holding the part between centers or a chuck, allowing for grinding outer diameters (OD), faces, and inner diameters (ID) in a single operation. By holding the part in place throughout the process, separate functions can be performed without ever releasing the part. This ensures a perfect relationship between these operations, as the part remains intact and undisturbed. The multi-axis CNC OD/ID approach is ideal for industrial applications requiring multiple diameters to be ground, especially when these features must be concentric and perfectly aligned. Industries such as aerospace and industrial manufacturing, which involve high-precision industrial parts, often rely on multi-axis CNC OD/ID grinding.
Have you ever seen a multi-axis CNC OD/ID machine? Meet the Kellenberger®1000 on the blog, our latest technology.
Choosing Your Perfect Grind
When manufacturing precision components, selecting the optimal grinding technique is paramount to achieving the highest levels of accuracy and quality. Whether your project calls for the ultra-precision of through-feed centerless grinding, the versatile capabilities of in-feed centerless grinding, the intricate features imparted by hybrid CNC centerless grinding, the specific wire configurations accomplished through guidewire centerless grinding, or the ability to grind multiple diameters with multi-axis CNC OD/ID grinding, we are here to guide you in choosing the proper technique. Our highly skilled grinding professionals are armed with cutting-edge technology and an unwavering commitment to perfection, ensuring your project surpasses the most stringent standards of precision and performance. Contact us to experience our grinding team’s expertise and excellence in your mission-critical component manufacturing project.