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World's fastest grinding machine comes to UConn (Released: 4/15/97)

by Richard Veilleux, Office of University Communications.

STORRS, Conn. -- A precision grinding machine that is more than eight times faster and much more accurate than conventional machines has been delivered to the Center for Grinding Research and Development at the University of Connecticut.

The $3.7 million advanced grinding machine, built by the Bryant Grinder Corp. in collaboration with The Torrington Co., was constructed using funding from the Defense Logistics Agency on behalf of the National Science Foundation. It was delivered to UConn in October. UConn has been responsible for developing and managing a program of research in the development of the machine, which will now be made available for use by companies interested in examining its potential.

The machine, which will be displayed during the center's semi-annual industrial advisory board meeting April 16-17, is a shoe centerless cylindrical grinding machine. It features automatic part loading and wheel balancing, which will help it grind bearings and other machine parts with nearly flawless precision (to an accuracy of 1/100,000 of an inch). The effort is part of the government's Advanced Grinding Machine Initiative (AGMI), a national program aimed at strengthening the U.S. machine tool and bearing industries through the design and construction of machines capable of meeting the challenges of an increasingly competitive and technologically sophisticated world.

Advanced grinding machines are important because they enable manufacturers of everything from cars and lawn mowers to washing machines and dozens of other household appliances to produce more products of higher quality less expensively. These improved products can then be sold to consumers at lower prices.

UConn's new machine will be used by various manufacturers across Connecticut, New England and the nation to test the new design, some of which is already incorporated into other machines Bryant makes.

"We'll work it to test the limits of grinding -- see how far we can push the envelope," says John Webster, associate director of the center.

The new machine is particularly fast and efficient for several reasons, including its ability to load and center pieces automatically rather than manually. It also has a higher quality coolant system, which helps avoid overheating the workpiece during production. Overheating causes thermal distortion in bearing rings and softening of the bearing surface, leading to premature failure in use.

The machine can run at speeds of up to 250 meters per second, using superabrasive wheels, compared with a normal grinding machine that tops out at about 30 meters per second using conventional abrasives.