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Production demands 0.0008" normal grinding tolerance; thanks to hardware and control software, a hydraulic component manufacturer delivers normal manufacturing tolerances that challenge those of specialty centerless grinding operations.

With only 65 employees, Trotter Machine Inc. (Rockford, IL) is among the largest U.S. producers of hydraulic valve spools to off-highway equipment OEMs. The spools control the restriction and flow of high-pressure oil in hydraulic cylinder valves, used by John Deere, Caterpillar, and others on tractor and construction equipment lines, as Trotter sells to valve manufacturers. Skip Trotter, vice president--Operations, likens his products to the processors in a computer. "Our spools are literally the brains of the valve and these products constitute 90% of our shipments."

Trotter Machine has manufactured valve spools since 1985 and is particularly attentive to the tight tolerances in diameter and cylindricity. Trotter explains, "We routinely and consistently hold [+ or -] 0.0006" - 0.0008" and there are simply no grinding houses in a 500-mile radius that can hold the tolerances we achieve on a daily basis."

Typically, Trotter Machine runs hard chrome-plated steel through its production facility, where it utilizes Haas lathes and machining centers, CNC Swiss lathes, ID hone and gundrill machines, CNC grinders, and Ghiringhelli finish centerless grinders. The majority of Trotter's machines have CNC and, on the newest Ghiringhelli finish grinder, the control is a Siemens Sinumerik 840D with SW OEM software designed by Ghiringhelli, specifically for its centerless grinders supplied through I-TECH Grinding and Manufacturing Solutions in New Jersey.


As I-TECH Managing Director, Riccardo D'Ambrosio explains, "We have always used the Siemens packages of CNC for control of working slides, interpolation of axes for the grinding and control wheel dressing, grinding and control wheel spindles and the gantry for loading/unloading workpieces. The data for each job are stored in the onboard hard drive of the numerical control unit (NCU), plus there is the option of storing data on a floppy disk and then transferring that data through a serial connection to an external PC.

"The SW OEM software we conceived for our centerless grinding machines and the Siemens CNC allow--operators with minimal programming knowledge--to quickly and easily use the machine. Start-up is managed by a series of basic text messages. The work cycle and the piece profile for the dressing are scheduled with the support of multiple screen pages, where data are displayed with a clear indication of the functions being performed. For example, stock removal, grinding traverse, feed rate, position for the loading/unloading of the workpiece and more are all displayed for easy access and manipulation. Likewise, production data such as floor-to-floor cycle time, grinding time, dressing time and output per hour can be arranged on a predetermined screen page," D'Ambrosio continues. He also comments that Siemens personnel were extremely valuable in start-up and troubleshooting the machines, especially to optimize new applications, at Trotter Machine and elsewhere.

Grinding Advantage

Trotter Machine performs a wide variety of machining functions in the production of its valve spools, nearly all utilizing CNC's onboard the equipment. "We are a production facility and use screw machines with CNC for blanking, as well as other CNC equipment for most of the secondary operations. We have a hone and gundrill for auxiliary ops, too.

"What sets us apart from other companies in our business, however, is our grinding capability," Trotter observes proudly. There are currently five companies in the world manufacturing valve spools of the types produced at Trotter Machine, according to Trotter. His company runs four CNC grinders, including the new Ghiringhelli, plus 22 other pieces of CNC equipment presently. "We are total believers in this control technology, as it helps us maintain tight tolerance in high production work." Siemens Machine Tool Business or Circle 202 for more information
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Title Annotation:Grinding/Grinding Machines
Publication:Modern Applications News
Date:Nov 1, 2004
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