What is a CNC Cylindrical Grinder?

CNC cylindrical grinders are also called CNC grinders or CNC cylindrical grinding machines. They are essentially the grinding machines that are controlled by the CNC system. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control which refers to an automated unit that controls the machining tools by a computer. A cylindrical grinder has its name from the grinding spindle that has a cylindrical figure; a machine as such performs grinding works by the rotary movement of the grinding tool which is driven by the spindle.

The grinding work that is conducted by a CNC cylindrical grinder goes this way: the operation is pre-programmed on a computer and the CNC system gives a series of instructions to the grinder to carry out the very operation. The programming process is referred to as CAD which stands for Computer-Aided Design. The most popular CAD software to date is AutoCAD. Since the movement of the grinding tools as well as the work pieces is precisely controlled and executed, the end result of the operation can be optimized.

CNC Machining Center

The two fundamental elements of a CNC cylindrical grinder is the CNC system that instructs and controls and the grinding machine that executes. A grinding machine is the machining equipment that uses a rotating grinding wheel to remove material from a given object so that the object can be shaped into a desired configuration. As technology advances over time, the grinding machines in general have evolved and turned into a more comprehensive machining center.

A conventional cylindrical grinding machine is only able to perform limited types of grinding operations. However, a CNC machining center is capable of performing a wide variety of machining operations by means of changing the machining tools mounted on the spindle head. The CNC machining center is also known as the CNC turning center. Almost any machining process that involves the rotation of the spindle head can be conducted by a turning center and the automation of the machine enabled by CNC system further lifts its capability.

Efficient Tool Change

The automation of machinery is one of the key advantages of a CNC cylindrical grinder as well as the CNC turning centers so to speak. The automation of machinery is not only realized in the machining process, but also the change of machining tools. During a conventional machining process, the drill bits or machining tools are changed manually by machinists which is rather time consuming. Yet, CNC automation allows the machine to change the tools automatically and rapidly. On top of machinery automation, the invention of power turrets further improves the process to another level.

A turret head is a platform which allows multiple machining tools to be mounted. Driven by the main spindle head, the tool change process conducted by a power turret becomes simpler. Since the tools are all mounted onto the turret, the unloading and reloading of tools are no longer necessary. The spindle only has to position the tool to the machining site by rotating the turret and the machine is ready to proceed on the next round of machining. A CNC cylindrical grinder can incorporate with a power turret to better the overall performance and productivity of the machine.

Multi-axis Machining Capability

The other important feature of a CNC cylindrical grinder is the multi-axis capability. A grinding machine with multi-axis capability is able to manufacture components with higher complexity. In order to grind a work piece on multiple surfaces at particular angles, the work piece as well as the machining tool needs to be granted with certain level of movement ability. A CNC lathe usually has a 3-axis capability. The 3-axis movement refers to the movement along X-, Y-, and Z-axis.

The X- and Y-axis movements refer to the spindle moving horizontally in two perpendicular directions. The Z-axis movement refers to the spindle moving along the vertical axis of the machine. Some more advanced turning centers have the 5-axis machining capability to which the cutting tool moves across the X-, Y-, and Z-axis as well as rotates at two extra axes. 5-axis machining provides almost infinite possibilities as in the shapes and surface designs the machine can process.