Automated finish-machining

Machine-integrated and robot-based grinding and polishing processes

Automated fine machining saves both time and money, particularly in the tool and die making sector, giving the predominantly small and medium-sized enterprises active in this branch of industry a competitive edge. 

In the "Automated Fine Machining" division at the Fraunhofer IPT we develop robot-based and machine-integrated technologies and production systems for tool and die production, for the manufacture of turbomachinery and for medical engineering. These technologies create the conditions for the production even of high-gloss surfaces destined for use in both technical and optical applications. Grinding, lapping and polishing processes can be programmed and conducted automatically on free-form tools and molds using industrial robots and special-purpose force-controlled spindles and tool holders in conjunction with a CAD/CAM link. The aim of our research and development work is to achieve a significant reduction in the amount of manual finishing work required and to improve consistency along with time and cost reduction.

In the course of international research projects, we have completed a number of developments to date, including the following new systems and process technologies:

  • An industrial robot, capable of reproducing kinematic features of human motion  – with the added advantage of greater consistency and resilience
  • Force-controlled spindles and tools which mimic human sensitivity to  input and disturbance variables of the process
  • A CAD/CAM module to implement an optimum machining strategy using a diverse range of tools, oils and pastes
  • Machine-integrated grinding and polishing solutions
  • Enhanced grinding and polishing processes even on ultra-hard steel and on alloys for turbomachinery.
  • Optimized processes for the manufacture of plastic injection molds, for sheet metal forming and in the turbomachinery components sector
  • Customized solutions for grinding and polishing tasks

Applications

Tool and die making

We develop and qualify various solutions aimed at automating grinding and polishing processes for the tool and die producing sector.

Turbomachinery and aeroengine components

We develop cost-saving and efficient solutions for precision machining aero-engine components.

 

Process design

Optimum process parameters for a wide range of grinding and polishing operations can be determined using statistical design of experiment principles.

Machine-integrated and robot-based finish-machining

Newly-developed tool systems permit finish-machining operations to be carried out using 5-axis machining centers and off-the-shelf industrial robots.