Eliminating Extra Steps for One-Step Tool Grinding

July 27, 2023
"Blanket grinding" means automated, continuous production of tools of similar geometries, consolidating all tool grinding processes into a single machine.

Recent events have strained manufacturing supply chains, resulting in labor and raw material shortages, freight delays, and increased energy costs. The need to adapt to changes like these has become significantly more important to manufacturers, particularly as these pressures are exacerbated by demand, driven by expectation in our “instantaneous” global culture.

ANCA CNC Machines strives to work with its customers to adapt and grow along with these market changes and pressures. One method helping customers to adapt is blanket grinding, made possible by robot cells offered on all ANCA platforms.

What is blanket grinding? ANCA’s blanket grinding approach allows for continuous and complete tool production from longer bar stock to finished product using automation, saving time by eliminating extra processes or handling.

Using an ANCA tool-grinding machine with a robot cell, blanket grinding offers flexibility across a range of tool sizes and applications. Blanket grinding allows for full automation of tools of similar geometries, by consolidating all tool grinding processes into a single machine. A batch of complete finished tools can be produced without interruption directly from lengths of ground bar stock, with no operator intervention. Ultimately this gives the operators the flexibility to respond to customer demands in a dynamic and agile manner. All that’s necessary is to load a pallet of ground bar material into the cell: the machine will take care of the rest.

Blanket grinding is effective for:
 Small batch and customized solutions
 Quick turnaround production
 Product development and R&D
 Accuracy and consistency over batch
 Automation and “lights out” operation

Beginning with the full, 330-mm bar stock material loading into the collet; the blank and tool geometry is ground, including any features (such as rear chamfer, for example), before the finished tool is cut off. Then the tool is removed by the robot and loaded into the finished pallet. This program continues along the remaining bar stock until all useful raw material is consumed. To complete the automation process, waste is handled by the cell, before new bar stock is loaded into the collet.

Machine platform for blanket grinding. With the addition of a robot cell, ANCA machines can be used to implement the blanket grinding process. Tool size and application will determine which machine is right for you.

The two main features offered by the TX series machines that are beneficial in performing the blanket grinding function are the large working envelope and the high torque spindle. These attributes not only allow work on longer bar lengths, but also enable production of a larger range of tool sizes and geometries without limitation, including tools that require a high material removal.

The TX platform also fits any of ANCA’s robot cell solutions, including RoboMate, and the dedicated TXcell offering, which offers large format cell automation, many standard options and the flexibility for automated custom solution.

The RoboMate cell is offered on both TX and MX platforms and offers customers a low barrier to entry for blanket grinding and production automation.

How can blanket grinding help? Customers are more and more frequently demanding products that are customized and with higher complexity. But more important, they expect immediate response and shorter delivery time; when meeting these expectations, costs take a back seat, while focus is on delivery.

Using ANCA’s robot automation solutions in blanket grinding enables you to realize these demands with minimal disruption to existing production lines, less planning, reduced manual handling and increased utilization and efficiencies. These benefits can combine to deliver an overall value proposition and increased return per tool.

Blanket grinding also may reduce floor space by removing separate machines and consolidating processes into a single footprint to produce the same tool. The process consolidation allows changes in parts and features to be easily handled. For example, grinding of shank features (Weldon flats or coolant slots) and handling of very small parts can be made simpler by adding many features in a single set-up.

Benefit from blanket grinding. Blanket grinding also may aid shops’ efforts to become more agile. You can respond quickly to customer requests without the need for re-tooling or disruption to high volume production lines, while also guaranteeing highest quality across the batch.

An automated cell adopting blanket grinding has no need for re-tooling, with reduced set-up times and quick-response time, without disruption, allowing further utilization of more specialized machinery.

Applying blanket grinding will go a long way to improving cost recovery, through increased utilization and efficiencies, as well as removal of manual labor and set-up times. There is also a benefit in reduced footprint through process consolidation into a single machine.

Kaine Mulder is a product manager with ANCA CNC Machines. Contact him at LinkedIn.