Vollmer introduces new grinding technology
At the recent EMO exhibition, VOLLMER delivered the exhibition premiere of its new VGrind 360S grinding machine for the complete machining of carbide tools. Acknowledged as the new standard for the complete machining of rotationally symmetric solid carbide tools, the exciting new VGrind 360S is the perfect solution for manufacturing cutting tools for aerospace, medical, automotive and general subcontract manufacturing sectors.
This new 5-axis CNC grinding machine can be used productively to machine carbide tools with a diameter up to 25.4 mm and depending on the machine kinematics and the equipping of the grinding wheel packages, it can even be used for tools up to 150 mm diameter. The VGrind 360S incorporates wear-free linear induction motors on the X, Y and Z-axes to lower maintenance costs for the machine whilst demonstrating higher surface quality for the tool and improved precision.
The tried-and-tested vertical double-spindle concept from VOLLMER now features an oriented spindle-stop for the first time. Also known as spindle indexing, this always stops the spindle at a specific position and the result is a reduction of axial run-out errors and concentricity issues whilst offsetting wear in the HSK holding system. Another new feature is a heat plate exchanger to efficiently cool motors and spindles, which in turn leads to increased thermal stability. Furthermore, this effective cooling concept that has now been optimised and extended demonstrates absolute perfection when processing tools to the tightest of tolerances.
Simple and intuitive operation is at the core of the VGrind 360S and for customers to fully exploit its potential, VOLLMER has created an ergonomic platform whereby users can operate the control panel comfortably whilst having full visibility of the work envelope. Operation via the keyboard or touchscreen allows for precise machining of the tool and the multi-function handwheel ensures even more flexibility as it can be freely positioned on the enclosure. This design allows the setting of a required axis without using the control panel.
The VGrind 360S incorporates VOLLMER’s trusted operating concept and can be operated unmanned around the clock thanks to automation features such as a pallet magazine, free-arm robot or chain magazine. The options for automation include the HP 160 pallet magazine for up to 900 tools with a double gripper to guarantee fast changeovers, the HPR 250 free-arm robot for the automatic machining of tools with various shaft diameters and the HC 4 chain magazine that has space for 39 HSK-63A tools or up to 158 shank-type tools. This automation also extends to the 8-tool grinding wheel changer that ensures you always supply the right grinding wheel for the job at hand with no manual intervention. As an option, coolant nozzles can be automatically exchanged with the wheel sets on both spindles.
VOLLMER has everything covered for maximum productivity and performance. The optional features include the flexible loading automation options for carbide tools, grinding spindles available with direct or belt drive, automatic gripper compensation as an in-process solution, wheel compensation probes, automated changing of intermediate sleeves with bayonet, an automatic stacking unit that enables the abrasive grinding wheel to be opened during the grinding process. Other available features include the simultaneous grinding wheel package and tool change in combination with the HP 160 pallet magazine or the HC 4 to reduce non-productive times during loading and a stable, fully adjustable steady rest with automatic stroke to prevent deflection and ensure optimal grinding results.
Saw centre cuts the path to productivity with Vollmer
As a company that has roots that date back to 1889, The Saw Centre and its growth trajectory really took off when the company was bought by a father and son partnership in the late 60’s. The company has grown exponentially since then and it now employs more than 30 staff in a 20,000 sq/ft purpose-built facility. Now in its third generation of family ownership and jointly managed by David Stevenson and Tony Galbraith, the company has evolved with significant growth of its saw blade sharpening business bolstered with diversification into the sales and service of machinery for the wood, metal and UPVC sectors.
To expand the portfolio of services, the acquisition of a tooling service and manufacturing company in 2006 provided the staff with the skills and knowledge to service the needs of the precision engineering and panel processing industries. The purchase of a small tooling company enabled the Saw Centre to move work from traditional machines to a CNC grinding centre and subsequently become the only independent company in Scotland with this facility. However, the mainstay of the business remains as the name suggests, the Saw Centre – and it is here that grinding and sharpening machines from Vollmer have made a significant impact.
It was back in 2001 the company made its first major investment in Vollmer technology, purchasing a Vollmer CHD250R2 TCT saw blade sharpening machine and a Vollmer Loroch HSS saw sharpening machine that were both connected to a Vollmer ND automation centre. At the time, it was the first Vollmer automation station in the UK to simultaneously service both HSS and TCT saw blade sharpening machines. This investment provided The Saw Centre with the facility for 24/7 operation, ramping up productivity levels and capacity. Most impressive was that the automated cell eradicated the need for three HSS saw blade sharpening machines and an additional four TCT saw sharpening machines. The cell removed seven machines from the shop floor, reduced costs, as well as power and consumable consumption and enabled the company to allocate two staff to alternate tasks whilst adding significant sharpening capacity.
The latest investment
Despite working around the clock for 20 years, saw blade technology has evolved and this required a new solution. Joint managing director Tony Galbraith says: “The evolution of saw blades for our primary industries of wood, metal cutting, construction and UPVC has moved on quite drastically in the last 20 years. To service the needs of our customers and streamline our productivity, we needed to upgrade our machinery. This upgrade was the Vollmer CHD270 with an ND250 5-stack robot loading system that arrived in April 2021.
“As manufacturers strive to improve productivity and prolong saw blade life, the required geometries have become ever more complex. Unfortunately, the software, kinematics and machine movement of the old Vollmer CHD250R2 meant that we either had to undertake two or three setups to complete complex saw blades or we would subsequently subcontract the work out to another supplier. In some instances, we turned away the sharpening of certain blades. Now, we can regrind everything on the new CHD270 and when it comes to TCT saw blade sharpening, I wouldn’t go to anyone but Vollmer.”
The Vollmer CHD270 is a fully automated machine for the complete machining of Carbide Tipped (TCT) circular saw blades with eight CNC-controlled axes and measuring equipment. The machine design demonstrates excellent stability, takes up little space and is very easy to use. The entire grinding unit of the CHD270 is compactly and robustly mounted on a central monoblock main structure to take precision and smooth running to a new level. Furthermore, the patented twin grinding wheel concept provides complete machining without having to replace the grinding wheel. The ergonomic design makes the CHD270 very easy to operate and to access for maintenance work on the control cabinet, coolant pump, pneumatic system and fire extinguishing device. When combining this with the user-friendly ND250 automation system, you can have complete confidence in the ability to sharpen saw blades around the clock with impeccable quality and productivity levels.
The benefits of the CHD270
This confidence in Vollmer technology is justified by the impressive performance of the previous Vollmer CHD250R2 over two decades, but the new machine takes productivity, technology and automation to a new level. Discussing this, The Saw Centre’s factory manager Scott McQuillan, who has been with the company for 25 years, says: “In the last 20 years, saw blade geometries have evolved considerably in all industry sectors, as saw blade suppliers and their customers strive to improve performance and blade longevity. In the panel processing industries, the demand for hollow ground blades with concave tooth geometries has increased drastically. Used in wall saws and vertical panel saws, the blades require an excellent finish and as we are selling more of the machines and blades we had to find a more efficient way of grinding them, previously the blades would require two processes on two machines to get the quality we were looking for.”
The transfer of the blades between two machines resulted in a sharpening time of approximately 40 minutes, depending upon the blade size and type. Furthermore, these saw blades had to be manually loaded, increasing the workload for staff as the volume of blades continually increased. “With the new CHD270, we can now process the saw blades in a single automated setup in less than 20 minutes. Not only has this slashed our cycle times by 50 percent but it has also eliminated manual loading, as we can just put the blades into the ND250 robotic cell and forget about them.
“Going back 20 years, we did not have such a variety of machines using carbide-tipped blades and with all the new materials that are coming onto the market such as composites and processed board, we needed to have a system that could deal with all the geometries and with the new Vollmer CHD270 we can achieve endless saw blade geometries. This means that there is no saw blade we cannot sharpen and the need to inform a customer that we cannot service their blade has been completely eradicated, increasing our production and service capabilities.
“Blade manufacturers are continually increasing the geometry range of their saws and this is particularly prevalent in the UPVC and aluminium industry. We have some saws with a flat tooth geometry with side bevels that would previously be three operations and are now a single operation on the CHD270. Likewise, some saws would alternate teeth between flat and bevelled teeth. The CHD270 takes all this in its stride as it has all the tooth forms and geometries we could ever need, future-proofing our business from next-generation saw geometries that may come along in future.“
The move from the ageing Vollmer CHD250R2 to the next generation CHD270 has gone far beyond extending flexibility and capacity at The Saw Centre. Scott McQuillan continues: “The new machine has a host of new features that really do highlight how Vollmer has evolved its technology over the last 20 years. The CHD270 software is more user friendly than ever before and we now have apprentices becoming very competent at setting the machine with minimal training. Likewise, the software for the ND250 robot loader has been improved too. Previously, if there was an issue with a saw blade in the middle of a stack, we would have to remove half of the stack and reload the stack. Now, the software allows us to remove individual blades from the processing cycle without re-stacking. Additionally, with the variety of portable plunge saws on the market, we now can stack blades that are under 180 mm. We spent 2-3 hours of each day manually loading the portable saw blades and now with the facility of stacking up to 70 at a time, we are gaining more time each day. The processing time has gone from 9 minutes to 6 minutes which in our factory, any time gained is a bonus.
The software, flexibility, kinematics and performance are much improved from the previous machine, but there is much more. The machine is more robust and the build quality has improved too. The probing and measuring system is second to none and it makes it near impossible to make errors, even the hydraulic oil system has been enhanced with a new pneumatic system that is cleaner and safer for our staff. Investing in the new Vollmer CHD270 will speed up our processing times and raise the quality that our customers need. It is not only an investment for us but it is a machine and a service that our customers deserve. We are extremely happy with our new Vollmer CHD270.”