Description: The optics manufacturing industry is undertaking a significant modernization, as computer-numeric-controlled (CNC) equipment is joining or replacing open-loop equipment and hand lapping/polishing on the shop floor. Several prototype CNC lens grinding platforms employing ring tools are undergoing development and demonstration at the Center for Optics Manufacturing in Rochester, NY, and several machine tool companies have CNC product lines aimed at the optics industry. Benefits to using CNC ring tool grinding equipment include: essentially unlimited flexibility in selecting radii of curvature without special radiused tooling, the potential for CIM linkages to CAD workstations, and the cultural shift from craftsmen with undocumented procedures to CNC machine operators employing computerized routines for process control. In recent years, these developments, have inspired a number of US optics companies to invest in CNC equipment and participate in process development activities involving bound diamond tooling. This modernization process,extends beyond large optics companies that have historically embraced advanced equipment, to also include smaller optical shops where a shift to CNC equipment requires a significant company commitment. This paper addresses our efforts to optimize fine grinding wheels to support the new generation of CNC equipment. We begin with a discussion of how fine grinding fits into the optical production process, and then describe an initiative for improving the linkage between optics industry and the grinding wheel industry. For the purposes of this paper, we define fine wheels to have diamond sizes below 20 micrometers, which includes wheels used for what is sometimes called medium grinding (e.g. 10-20 micrometers diamond) and for fine grinding (e.g. 2-4 micrometers diamond).
Date: May 1, 1996
Creator: Taylor, J.S.; Piscotty, M.A.; Blaedel, K.L. & Gray, F.A.
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