“Made in Rheinland-Pfalz” – The economy of Rhineland-Palatinate is characterized by a strong medium-sized sector, particularly in the handcraft and machine construction industries. Thus, Rhineland-Palatinate’s machine construction industry, which employs around 33,500 people, is the third largest industry in the manufacturing sector.
This industry branch is predominantly characterized on the market by small and medium-sized enterprises. These are specialists in the production of customer-specific solutions and are often market leaders in their segments. The sector is diverse. Overall, it is made up of numerous technical sectors from armature right up to machine tools. In the innovative tool manufacturing industry, modern technologies for the production of diamond and boron nitride tools are setting trends.
The best example which reflects the creativity of this industry is Günter Effgen GmbH. The medium-sized enterprise is setting new standards in its sector through its innovative strength. Originating from a client contract, the company developed new diamond-impregnated grinding and polishing tools in 2007.
The company was awarded the Innovation Prize Rhineland-Palatinate 2008 for the development of “polishing tools for the defined processing of hard and very hard workpiece surfaces, in particular for CNC grinders”.
It specifically involved the creation of a defined rounding of a cutting edge and simultaneously a high-gloss polished flute. All this was to possibly take place in one process using a 5-axis CNC machine. By collaborating closely with clients, the process was performed on the machine in a matter of a few weeks. The high-performance carbide drill created in the “unmanned operation” is mass-produced in safe processing and shows a 200 per cent longer lifetime than the previous production method.
In preparation of the cutting edge, the following three focal points are to be taken into account: the cutting edge chipping, defined edge rounding as well as the refinement of the surface roughness on the cutting faces and tool flanks.
The difficulty in obtaining these properties lies in that a specifically prepared and homogenous cutting edge in the micrometre range is to be created in the production process. After grinding, the micro geometry of the cutting edge is characterized by chipping and unsteadiness, which is a hindering factor. The unsteadiness is hugely strained during the process and leads to micro raptures, which reduce the durability of the cutting edge and influence the quality of the workpiece surface being processed.
With the newly developed polishing tools of the company in Herrstein, a novel process-secure technology is revealed, which variably combines both the polishing and rounding working processes. The herewith producible surface qualities lie in surface roughness values of Ra 0.02 micrometres. As a result, a significantly better removal of chips and a much lower thermal load is guaranteed during the drilling process. Certain high-performance drills do not require additional surface coatings and achieve an overall longer lifetime with the polished surface. In drill production, the “coating” working process is eliminated and production costs are therewith reduced by ten per cent.
A considerable advantage is that the machine operator is able to continue working at a cutting speed, feed rate and positioning parameter that he is used to and in the end, extract an optimally prepared cutting tool directly from the machine. The polishing discs are, amongst other things, divided into four basic hardness segments, which can be adapted for the respective requirements. The adjustable elastic properties of this resinoid bond essentially allows for the rounding performance to be controlled at the cutting edges. The variable structure of the bond and the application of special diamond grits permit the processing of different substances such as carbide, HSS, zirconium oxide, glass, flame-sharpened alloys, hardened steel and germanium.
For Günter Effgen GmbH, innovation means the continuous development of new applications and the introduction of new production technologies. The rapid progress of new technologies in recent years has also characterized the activities of other companies in Rhineland-Palatinate. Today, handcraft and machine construction is synonymous to high technology. Those who wish to survive in the market have to adjust to these facts. Flexibility, initiative, innovation and creativity are indispensable companions of modern organizations that wish to enter international markets. This is a huge challenge that the Rhineland-Palatinate organizations meet in future.
The author, born in 1970, completed his training as a certified technician for plastics and rubber processing. He worked as a process manager in materials and processing technology at a medium-sized automotive supplier for nine years. He has been working at Günter Effgen GmbH since 2005. He is the product manager for the grinding and polishing tools section as well as being responsible for R&D in that area.