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Swabian machining expertise 02/27/2019

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They are practically neighbours in the southern German region of Swabia – CERATIZIT Balzheim GmbH and VOLLMER WERKE GmbH in Biberach. In the last three years, sharpening specialist VOLLMER has delivered 14 VGrind grinding machines to Balzheim, which lies just 30 kilometres to the east. There, the tool manufacturer CERATIZIT uses the machines to sharpen solid carbide tools such as drills, milling cutters, reamers or countersinks. The tools are used around the globe to machine materials like composites, titanium, steel or aluminium and in sectors like the aerospace and automotive industries or medical engineering.

"All our expertise in solid carbide tools, which we design and produce for the manufacturing industry, comes together in Balzheim," says Dr Georg Lamers, CEO of CERATIZIT Balzheim GmbH & Co. KG. "We employ more than 470 staff at the site and they produce a wide range of standard tools. We also develop many special tools, particularly for our customers in the aerospace industry."

Balzheim – the centre for solid carbide machining
 CERATIZIT Balzheim is part of the international CERATIZIT Group, which has more than 30 production sites and around 9000 employees worldwide. In addition to solid carbide tools, the company also manufactures indexable inserts as well as PCD and CBN tools, carbide and cermet rods, products for machining wood or stone, and wear parts for different sectors. CERATIZIT has combined the experience and expertise of the former GW (Günther Wirth) and KLENK companies to form a centre of competence for solid carbide in the Swabian town of Balzheim. The site mainly produces drills, milling cutters, reamers and countersinks with diameters from less than 1 mm to more than 25 mm.
To machine the solid carbide tools, CERATIZIT relies on the expertise and technology of Biberach-based sharpening specialist VOLLMER. Their Swabian neighbour has delivered 14 VGrind grinding machines to Balzheim alone: VOLLMER delivered the first VGrind 160 in 2016, laying the foundation for a business partnership. In addition to Balzheim, CERATIZIT also grinds precision tools for the international market at its production sites in India, the USA, France and Italy using another nine VGrind machines.

VOLLMER develops grinding machines in Biberach
The VGrind 160 grinding machine and its successor, the VGrind 360, are suited to machining the complex geometries of solid carbide and carbide tools thanks to their kinematic properties. Unlike with a single spindle or horizontal double spindle, the VGrind double spindle is arranged vertically, making multi-level machining possible. CERATIZIT also achieves precise results with the VGrind as the machine only ever machines workpieces on the fixed bearing side of a grinding wheel set. In addition, the grinding wheel set is always at the C-axis pivot point. With five CNC-controlled axes, the VGrind 360 achieves perfect interpolation with short travel distances for the linear axes and swivel ranges. By reducing the non-productive times during the sharpening process, the entire machining time is shortened because the two grinding spindles can be loaded with different tools.

Global supplier of solutions – from tools to Industry 4.0
"As a Group, we don't just supply tools but also develop complete machining solutions for our customers, for example for assemblies like aluminium turbochargers or braking systems," says Dr Georg Lamers. "Our range is among the most comprehensive in the machining industry. Across our sites, we compile the right tools for these solutions from our Cutting Solutions by CERATIZIT, KOMET, WNT and KLENK competence brands."

While CERATIZIT Balzheim is responsible for solid carbide tools, other sites supply indexable inserts as well as PCD and CBN tools, among others. CERATIZIT not only offers tools for industrial applications, but goes as far as providing digital Industry 4.0 solutions. For example, customers can monitor and optimise a production environment based on the Internet of Things (IoT) with the ToolScope monitoring and assistance system. ToolScope records and documents a variety of machine data during machining, for example the spindle torque or the name of the programme currently in use. It also registers events like tool changes or machine downtimes and warns users about wear or damage to the tools in good time.

"CERATIZIT demonstrates how IoT is becoming established in tool manufacturing as well and how companies improve their production processes with Industry 4.0," says Dr Stefan Brand, CEO of the VOLLMER Group. "For this reason, we have started the V@dison initiative to develop IoT solutions together with our partners. We aim to achieve continuous data transfers across the entire value-added chain to record data – from sharpening machines to metal machining – and use this data to optimise processes."

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Ingo Wolf
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Address Ehinger Straße 34 // 88400 Biberach