In this business, grinding is where the rubber hits the road, or more precisely, where the grain hits the metal. At every process upstream, most precision sheet metal fabricators employ at least some level of automation. But there’s no getting around it: Grinding down a weld on a formed workpiece is and probably will remain an intensely manual operation.
The act of grinding can be deceivingly simple. But the devil’s in the details. Effective grinding requires operators to apply enough pressure at the correct angle to let the grains—the “cutting tool” of a grinding disc—remove the most metal in the shortest time, while not prematurely wearing the disc or burning out the grinding tool.
The variables abound, and managing them effectively can be vital for efficient part flow. After all, it doesn’t matter how mind-bogglingly fast upstream processes are if it takes forever and a day for parts to make it through the grinding department.
This subject could fill an entire book, of course. But as a starting point, here are 8 tips that may help you make the most effective use of your grinding operation. These factors just scratch the surface (so to speak), but they may give you some initial ideas on how to free your grinding bottleneck.
- Use the right tool for the job. Grinding discs are consumables; the power tools shouldn’t be. Be sure to use the appropriate grinder that can handle adequate amperage for the job at hand. If an application calls for between 8 and 10 amps of pressure, and you use a right-angle grinder rated for only 6 amps, you’re in trouble from the start.
A grinder shouldn’t be a throwaway tool, and it makes business sense to spend a little more money on a higher-quality tool rated for industrial work. A grinder twice the price will give you better results, and its operating life may be measured in months or even years, not weeks.
Besides, high-quality grinding discs as well as flap discs work with right-angle grinders as a system. An old jalopy (that is, a low-quality grinder) with fancy tires (high-quality grinding disc) may drive a little better, but it’s still not the smoothest ride.
Read more: Eight tips for effective grinding