Q&A with Josh Fairley and Spencer Artz

Josh Fairley is Product Engineer at Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives

Spencer Artz is Corporate Application Engineer at Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives


What sets Norton | Saint-Gobain Abrasives grinding wheels apart from its competition?

Norton | Saint-Gobain’s dedication to continuous research and development of new abrasives and bond systems is what sets it apart from its competitors. We are the leader in abrasive technology. Norton was the first company to develop a seeded-gel (ceramic) abrasive for use in grinding wheels in 1986, and we have been improving ceramic grain technology ever since. New ceramic grains and bond systems are designed, rigorously tested, and optimized at the Higgins Grinding Technology Center in Northborough, Massachusetts, before being released. Since Norton is a global company, we are able to leverage the technical expertise from our R&D facilities around the world. We frequently partner with a machine maker or a specific end user to develop processes that are then used throughout the industry. With state-of-the-art grinding innovations, paired with world class grinding application expertise, we can create optimized grinding processes to remove as much cost as possible.

What strides is Norton making with grinding technology within the automotive sector?

Quantum Prime has been a game changer within the automotive market. It is a significant performance improvement over previous generation ceramic aluminum oxide grains, which in turn provides significant cost savings for automotive part manufacturing. The combination of a drastically reduced microcrystal size and unique formulation creates grains that microfracture and self-sharpen more efficiently. This keeps the grinding wheel sharper for longer periods of time, reduces heat and wear flats, and minimizes the need for dressing. Quantum Prime, launched in 2021, has allowed our customers to keep up with the heavy gear grinding demand the industry has been seeing.

Another recent advancement is the development of the VS3PN bond system, a critical feature in our next generation of worm gear grinding wheels. This bond system was developed specifically for continuous generation cylindrical gear grinding, often called worm gear grinding, a critical process in the manufacturing of automotive transmissions. We pair this bond with premium grain combinations to meet and exceed the needs of customers.   

What is VS3PN, and how is this innovative bond making a difference in the industry?

VS3PN is a new bond system developed by Norton that allows for significantly reduced grinding temperatures and grinding forces by lessening the impact of bond-workpiece interactions that generate friction and heat. During any grinding process, there are many microscopic interactions that occur almost simultaneously. The most desirable interaction is cutting, where the abrasive grain efficiently removes material from the workpiece. All other interactions between the abrasive, bond, workpiece, and chips are inevitable, and typically detrimental. By growing an abrasive phase into the bond matrix, we can reduce the friction and energy involved in bond to workpiece interactions. This is particularly helpful in gear grinding where grinding contact lengths are high and grinding temperature must be kept to a minimum. This bond can be paired with the grain combination that makes the most sense for the customer’s process and goals. 

What enables Norton’s wheels to grind as fast or faster than others used in the market?

The combination of Norton’s VS3PN bond system and Quantum Prime (NQN) ceramic grains helps push grinding performance to the limits by minimizing friction between bond and the workpiece and maintaining abrasive sharpness through the micro-fracturing ability of the grain. This reduced friction results in lower grinding power, which allows for higher feed rates and longer dress intervals before the onset of grinding burn or chatter.

What allows Norton wheels to extend the interval between dressing cycles?

Typically dressing intervals are set by determining the failure mode of a grinding wheel (surface finish, burn, form, chatter, etc.). Ceramic abrasives, in particular, are great at maintaining form and minimizing grinding temperatures due to their micro-fracturing (self-sharpening) ability. Quantum Prime has a massive advantage over the competition due to its extremely small microstructure that causes it to break down slowly while maintaining sharpness. When the grinding wheel stays sharper longer while maintaining form, the required frequency of dressing is reduced. Extending the interval between dressing cycles increases the overall life of the grinding wheel, reduces the overall cycle time of the grinding process by eliminating the quantity of dress cycles, and increases the life of the dressing tool because it is being used less.

What has been the industry response to Norton’s latest development?

Field testing has shown very promising results. Automotive customers have been able to achieve faster grind cycle times through increased removal rates and reduced grinding passes. With extended dressing intervals, customers have been able to reduce their overall process cycle times, and reduce machine downtime from grinding wheel and dresser changes. Worldwide, this next generation of worm wheels is making a big impact. There has also been a lot of interest and excitement around trying this technology in other bonded vitrified precision grinding applications.

MORE INFO  www.nortonabrasives.com