Grinding and Shaping Thin Surfaces

When you hear the words “surface grinder,” what’s the first thought that comes to mind? For many, the image of an army sanding a rough surface seems like the image of an egotistical company trying to increase production by using an unnecessary tool. But the fact of the matter is that the grinder does more than just grind; it can be used to cut metal and stone, too. And the versatility of the abrasive material makes it ideal for a wide range of applications.

The metal cutting machine has been around for decades, but not until recently has it become one of the most commonly used machines in the industry. Surface grinder is used to create a near-flat, smooth finish on many flat surfaces. It’s a widely employed rough abrasive machining method in which a rotating diamond-capped wheel containing many fine rough particles is used to cut individual chips of either metal or non-metal material from a hardworkpiece, producing a rough face of it smooth or at least flat.

In addition to creating a surface that’s as smooth as possible, a grinder also allows for precision accuracy. This precision can come in the form of increased productivity, decreased operator fatigue, and even the prevention of damage to a workpiece caused by excessive heat. With the use of the right wheels, a surface grinder can quickly move across a large workspace quickly and with accuracy, moving parts of a large workpiece or fixture in precisely straight lines. This ability to create lines of exactness allows for easier welding and soldering operations, reduced errors in measurements and even the accurate manufacture of parts.

The use of a surface grinder isn’t limited to the creation of lines of precision, however. By combining the use of the abrasive wheel with the stationary workholder, a surface grinder can quickly and accurately grind small areas of unwanted material from workpieces. An abrasive wheel and a chuck may be used to grind an edge off a component, producing an edge that’s machined in accordance with specifications provided by the user. These features make the use of an abrasive wheel and a chuck a great option for precision milling operations in a wide range of industries.

One popular application of a surface grinder is to create a very small nodule on a workpiece. The size of this nodule can vary, depending on what the grinding wheel is capable of grinding. Often, a small nodule will not be noticeable to the naked eye but can quickly grow into a very sizeable problem, especially if there are many similar sized nodules forming on the same workpiece. To solve this problem, a rotary table can be added to the surface grinder’s operating area. A rotary table is a fixed, rigid fixture that fits inside the workpiece and rotates. The workpiece is moved over the rotating table, which grinds the surface of the workpiece until it is smooth and free of bumps or burrs.

With surface grinders, it is possible to create very minute surface irregularities, although these often have very little effect on the performance of the finished product. The most common use of a surface grinder involves cutting thin stainless steel or other metal slices. Many manufacturers combine grinding and drilling capabilities into a single machine, making them ideal for cutting thin materials such as tubing and pipes. Many hobbyists commonly use surface grinders to cut patterns into wood, brass, aluminum, and other metal surfaces, although these machines are also frequently used in professional industrial and manufacturing applications.