Fine machining

Machine-integrated finish-machining

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 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:

  • 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 solutions
  • Enhanced 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

Polishing Technologies

Polishing operations are crucial to the quality of parts since this is the point at which subsurface damage is removed whilst surface roughness and contour accuracy are enhanced. Preparatory and finish polishing operations for optical applications conducted on a range of materials are subject to a number of interdependent influencing factors such as the age of the polishing slurry or the wear of the polishing pad.

Polishing processes to suit all geometries and requirements

The material and surface quality required are the decisive factors when selecting the most suitable polishing system and process. These differ in terms of material removal mechanism which may be mechanical, mechanochemical, or chemomechanical. Depending on the geometries to be polished, a further distinction can be drawn between surface and zonal polishing.

At the Fraunhofer IPT, we are developing individual polishing steps tailored to the specifications relating to the outcome of the process. This makes the production of optical components more efficient and facilitates consistent outcomes. Our materialography and metrology laboratories, equipped with cutting-edge technologies, support the departments in their research and development projects in various ways, including high-precision measurement facilities.

Tool system for automated polishing processes

At the Fraunhofer IPT we have developed an intelligent tool system for the automation of manual polishing processes. The special feature of the system is that, due to its flexible tool holders, even demanding, free-form components such as turbine blades and geometrically complex forming tools can be machined.

Our services at a glance

  • Qualifying and benchmarking polishing system components
  • Evaluating and selecting suitable polishing systems scientifically
  • Analyzing and optimizing polishing processes scientifically
  • Developing tool modules and providing polishing strategies for robot and machine-tool integrated finishing operations
  • Analyzing polishing defects


Machine-integrated finish-machining

We develop new tool systems that enable fine machining with 5-axis machining centers.

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We develop automation solutions for your grinding and polishing processes.

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Process design

We determine the optimum process parameters for different grinding and polishing tasks.

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