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Insert Grinding at Glendower Cutting Tools – when 5 axis is not enough

Glendower Cutting Tools, who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, have announced the purchase of a Rollomatic 630 XW 6-axis CNC Tool Grinding machine that is now busy boosting their production of cutting tool inserts.

Glendower, who are very much a specialist insert manufacturer, have been located in Leicester since 1972 where they were started by Jim Doherty with just a few manual grinding machines. Over the years they have moved several times and are now located in a modern factory unit in Thurmaston and remain under family ownership with Jim’s daughter Cynthia Sanders, supported by Glendower’s management team headed up by Jim’s grandson Justin Sanders.

Whilst offering a vast array of all the standard inserts & tooling, Glendower also manufacture their own special inserts. From the initial design concept to the final product, great attention is made to manufacturing special inserts to the finest possible qualities. Unusually so, Glendower’s philosophy is to have complete in-house control over all manufacturing processes and that extends, for example, to even pressing and sintering their own carbide inserts with their own 12.5 ton insert press and vacuum furnace. Even the dies and punches that are needed are designed and manufactured by themselves.

Staff retention has always been very important to Glendower and most of those working there are very long serving and highly skilled employees who are able to master many different processes including pressing, sintering, brazing, milling, lapping, and of course grinding on a variety of 3-axis, 4-axis and now, with the introduction of the Rollomatic, 6-axis CNC tool grinding machines.

Dave Chattaway, Glendower’s Chief Engineer, who joined Glendower some 47 years ago, is especially pleased with the introduction of the very latest grinding technology and is now very busy boosting insert production on the Rollomatic machine. Dave welcomes the ability to programme all special insert geometry from his office and the machine is currently busy producing special inserts in low batches of 10s, 20s and 30s. However, with production rising to over 40,000 inserts per month it will not be long before the Rollomatic’s automatic part loader is used on larger batches of 1,000 inserts or more. Dave states that the 6th axis on the Rollomatic really allows him to create very special forms that are not possible on machines with less axis and allows for “one-hit” production in a single set-up which saves a lot of time and brings a higher accuracy than is possible when grinding special forms on 2 or 3 separate machines. The ability to quickly programme and then manufacture the small batch work has really sped up lead time through the shop floor and work in progress on multiple machines, with the resulting wait times, can now be negated.

Today Glendower is exporting inserts even to countries such as Taiwan who although far from being short of having many local insert manufacturers of their own, prefer to keep coming back to Glendower for the special geometry and high quality of inserts that they are able to provide to them and the investment in their Rollomatic grinding machine will further enable Glendower to manufacture inserts that others simply cannot do.

The Rollomatic 630XW machine is designed for grinding many kinds of cutting tools with a more complex geometry whereby its additional 6th “A” Axis, which is unique within the industry, provides an improved accuracy on ball nose end mills or corner radii with a possibility to incline the grinding wheels by up to 45 degrees. This avoids collisions, allows for easier programming, and ensures demanding and highly precise geometric forms, such as those found on special inserts, can be machined in a single operation. Unlike dedicated insert grinders, the Rollomatic has the flexibility and ability to quickly change over to grinding cylindrical cutting tools within minutes; something that is not possible on dedicated machinery.

The Rollomatic 630XW grinding machine has a general working range of grinding tools from 0.1mm to 20mm in diameter, (3.9mm to 25.4mm IC dia on inserts) has a high speed multi-pallet pick and place loader with positions for up to 1,360 tools as standard, and as standard a 6 position grinding wheel changer holding up to 24 wheels. The ultra-efficient synchronous grinding spindle motor provides constant rotation speed and torque regardless of the load on the motor and this combined with the latest linear motor technology provides benefits such as an enhanced surface finish. For grinding Glendower’s inserts the machine was specified with the optional retractable grinding wheel dressing unit with an in-built Dittel acoustic sensor. The machine is also equipped with a touch probe that determines the exact location of the insert blank after clamping, in order that the software can grind the tool geometry according to the virtual centerline of the blank. This ensures that a run-out of just 2 microns can easily be achieved. Like all Rollomatic grinding machines it comes with the industry leading 3 years parts and labour warranty that is provided by Rollomatic at no additional cost and also free of charge software and software updates for life.

Chris Boraston, MD at Advanced Grinding Solutions, the agents for Rollomatic in the UK and Eire comments:

Cutting tool inserts are not easy tools to grind. There is an almost infinite number of different and ever more complex forms to deal with and many of them have very tight tolerances with a demand for perfect and tiny radii and fine mirror like surface finishes. In the UK you can count the number of dedicated insert manufacturers on just one hand and insert grinding is very much a highly specialized field and the majority of UK companies buy these tools in from abroad. Glendower is competing fully with anyone globally when it comes to the manufacture of cutting tool inserts as it exports world-wide into other markets itself. There are many considerations that need to be understood when offering grinding solutions for inserts; not only does the software need to be extremely powerful and versatile to cope with the huge variety of forms, the clamping of inserts can also be challenging. Rollomatic has developed really excellent clamping devices for all types of inserts including beak type jaws for holding dog bone form inserts, a claw clamping device for milling inserts, a flat clamping system for profiled inserts and a cylindrical arbor holder for holding inserts that have a hole in the center. Glendower needed all of these holding devices and challenged Rollomatic at every level during the test and trial phase whereby Rollomatic successfully ground a number of different inserts for their approval. We all very much enjoyed the challenge and working with Glendower to help make this investment in the latest grinding technology the success that its being proven to be.

Glendower can be contacted via their website Advanced Grinding Solutions / Rollomatic via or contact AGS on +44 (0) 2476 22 66 11


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