What is a CNC Cylindrical Grinder?

Jun. 26, 2024

CNC cylindrical grinders are also called CNC grinders or CNC cylindrical grinding machines. They are essentially grinding machines 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 gets its name from the grinding spindle that has a cylindrical shape; such a machine performs grinding work by the rotary movement of the grinding tool, driven by the spindle.


The grinding work conducted by a CNC cylindrical grinder proceeds as follows: the operation is pre-programmed on a computer, and the CNC system gives a series of instructions to the grinder to carry out the operation. The programming process is referred to as CAD, which stands for Computer-Aided Design.


CNC Cylindrical Grinder

CNC Machining Center


The two fundamental elements of a CNC cylindrical grinder are the CNC system that instructs and controls and the grinding machine that executes. A grinding machine uses a rotating grinding wheel to remove material from an object, shaping it into a desired configuration. As technology has advanced, grinding machines have evolved into more comprehensive machining centers.


A conventional cylindrical grinding machine can perform only limited types of grinding operations. In contrast, a CNC machining center, also known as a CNC turning center, can perform a wide variety of machining operations by changing the tools mounted on the spindle head. Almost any machining process involving the rotation of the spindle head can be conducted by a turning center. The automation enabled by the CNC system further enhances its capabilities.


Efficient Tool Change


The automation of machinery is a key advantage of both CNC cylindrical grinders and CNC turning centers. This automation extends not only to the machining process but also to the changing of machining tools. In conventional machining, drill bits or tools are manually changed by machinists, which is time-consuming. However, CNC automation allows the machine to change tools automatically and rapidly.


In addition to automation, the invention of power turrets has further streamlined the tool change process. A turret head is a platform that allows multiple machining tools to be mounted simultaneously. Driven by the main spindle head, the tool change process with a power turret becomes more efficient. Since the tools are all mounted on the turret, there is no need for unloading and reloading. The spindle simply rotates the turret to position the required tool at the machining site, allowing the machine to quickly proceed with the next operation.


By incorporating a power turret, a CNC cylindrical grinder enhances its overall performance and productivity, making tool changes seamless and efficient.


Multi-axis Machining Capability


Another important feature of a CNC cylindrical grinder is its multi-axis capability. A grinding machine equipped with multi-axis capability can manufacture components with higher complexity. To grind a workpiece on multiple surfaces at specific angles, both the workpiece and the machining tool need to have a certain level of movement ability.


A CNC lathe typically has 3-axis capability. The 3-axis movement involves movement along the X-, Y-, and Z-axes. The X- and Y-axis movements refer to horizontal movements in two perpendicular directions, while the Z-axis movement refers to vertical movement along the machine's axis.


Some advanced turning centers are equipped with 5-axis machining capability. This allows the cutting tool to move across the X-, Y-, and Z-axes, as well as to rotate on two additional axes. 5-axis machining offers nearly limitless possibilities in terms of shapes and surface designs that the machine can process.

CNC Cylindrical Grinder

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