Consistent, Cost-Effective, High-Quality Lapping

Dec. 9, 2010
Computer-controlled tool bit restores lapping plates readiness for high-precision surface finishing
Lapping plates conditioned with the FastLap facing device produce more consistent surface finishes and more predictable removal rate, improving quality and lowering overall production cost.

A new optional upgrade for lapping and polishing systems promises to produce more consistent surface finishes with more predictable removal rates. The source is Engis Corporation, a global supplier of super-abrasive products and systems. Its FastLap facing device is an optional upgrade for its FastLap series of lapping and polishing machines.

Lapping is a process intended to be a final abrasive treatment of a workpiece that produces extreme dimensional accuracy, corrects minor imperfections of shape, refines surface finish, and produces a close fit between mating surfaces. Most lapping is done with a tooling plate or wheel (the lap) and fine-grained loose abrasive particles suspended in a viscous or liquid medium, such as soluble oil, mineral oil or grease.

But, excellent plate flatness is essential to achieving consistent results, Engis explains. The lapping process leads to plates becoming worn and uneven, requiring periodic reconditioning. Prior to the development of the FastLap facing device, reconditioning involved using diamond-plated conditioning rings (which Engis also supplies) and an experienced, skilled operator. This reconditioning method is a demanding task that results in excessive machine downtime and production losses.

Engis indicates that its FastLap facing device addresses these variables with a computer-controlled diamond tool bit. It uses the bit to remove the top (worn) layer of the lapping plate, machining it flat to within microns. (A video is available to demonstrate the process.) To produce a controlled surface geometry and texture, the device makes a second pass to machine a groove pattern that becomes the basis for structured embedding of abrasive particles.

The FastLap facing device must be factory-installed, and it is available on all of Engis’ FastLap lapping and polishing systems. FastLap systems can achieve less than 0.1 micro inch Ra surface finish and are available in hand weight and pneumatic versions. Depending on model, FastLap machines utilize lapping plates from 15- to 48-inches and can be customized to a wide variety of applications, including the production of semi-conductors, optical devices, LEDs, MEMs (micro-electro-mechanical systems), precision medical components, electronics, carbides, steels and ceramics.

The company maintains that lapping plates conditioned with the FastLap facing device produce more consistent surface finishes and more predictable removal rates, so manufacturers can achieve their quality goals, reduce reject rates and lower overall production costs.

Plates reconditioned with a facing device show excellent batch-to-batch surface consistency, according to Engis.

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