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A close partnership between ROLLOMATIC and FANUC to deliver the very best in Industry 4.0 sharpening

Task:  To design a new precision grinding machine with 6 simultaneously interpolated axes, combining hydrostatic technology and linear motors, as well as a polyarticulated robot.

Solution: Based on a long-standing partnership, Rollomatic opted for a complete FANUC solution, consisting of a 30i-B CNC. The clever integration of a FANUC LR Mate 200iD/7L robot offers a high degree of flexibility and autonomy. 

Result: The GrindSmart®830XW enables the machining of cutting tools with a surface finish and cutting edges that are superior to the market standard. 

 

By extending its GrindSmart® range to include diameters of 32 mm, by offering precision and combining linear motors with hydrostatic guiding arrangements, by automating its ranges with FANUC robots and CNC systems, Rollomatic is positioning its sharpening machines at the pinnacle of the quality and production pyramid. This is happening in Switzerland and is of interest to the whole world of sharpening and grinding. The manufacturer of high-precision sharpening and grinding machines, ROLLOMATIC, launched its first 6-axis CNC machine no less than 26 years ago. Under the leadership of Jean-Marc Dick in 1993, the design office worked in close collaboration with FANUC Switzerland to launch what was a revolutionary machine for the time: the CNC600. Since then, FANUC has been the sole supplier of the reference Swiss brand's digital control systems. The GrindSmart®830XW, a 6-axis grinding centre combining linear motors with hydrostatic guiding arrangements, constitutes a new joint technological leap forward for the two partners, making its mark on the history of the manufacture and grinding of cutting tools. For Rollomatic, this innovation represents a spearhead in penetrating the market for tools with diameters in excess of 16 mm. In the company of the main protagonists of this wonderful adventure, let us examine the genesis of this innovation which has been revolutionary in every sense of the word.

ABOUT ROLLOMATIC

In 1953, Francis Rollier founded the eponymous company at La Neuveville, near Neuchâtel, to manufacture high-precision rotary cutting tools for the watchmaking industry. Since the cutting and grinding machines of the time were not sufficiently precise for his needs, he decided to design and build his own improved machinery. Starting in 1985, together with his son Michel, he placed these machines on the market under the name "Roll-o-Matic". In 1989, Michel Rollier, still the company's CEO, set up Rollomatic SA. The ranges of grinding machines, for the CNC controlled grinding and sharpening of tools, were developed and left a technological mark on the industrial world, in particular with the fully automatic 6-axis CNC600 grinding centre. "At the time, there were twenty or so of us in the company," Jean-Marc Dick recalls. "The technical support of a top-tier CNC system and axis motor supplier was essential for this development," he stresses.

A story of people and innovations

The geographical proximity of FANUC Switzerland, based in Biel, proved highly advantageous for establishing close collaboration. "Our goal of penetrating international markets, in particular with the creation of our American subsidiary in 1994, also drove us to seek the services of a supplier with a global reach, like FANUC," adds Damien Wunderlin, Rollomatic Marketing and Sales Director. FANUC Switzerland has become more than a partner, it is at the heart and centre of Rollomatic machines. "Since I joined FANUC Switzerland in 1998, I have spent a great deal of my time with the Rollomatic design office," says Claude Amsler, who is responsible for the technical interface between FANUC Switzerland and Rollomatic. Built in 2002 by Rollomatic, the proximity of the Le Landeron production site, just twenty minutes from Biel, is very convenient for him. With this 12,000 m2 Lean Manufacturing production facility which employs 350 people from four continents and builds between 500 and 650 machines a year, today Rollomatic is THE global reference for high-precision sharpening and grinding. The Rollomatic GrindSmart® machines come complete with the VirtualGrind®Proprogramming software, the ShapeSmart® machine designed for cylindrical grinding is run by the ShapeSmart®Pro software and, for its part, the LaserSmart®Pro is supplied with the LaserSmart® models for laser machining. All these software programs are developed by Rollomatic. They are integrated into most of the FANUC 30i-B and 32i-B CNC systems equipping its ranges.


The pinnacle of precision…
Designed for small and large scale production runs of tools with diameters of between 1 mm and 32 mm, the GrindSmart®830XW pairs the ultimate in axis motorisation technologies with displacement guidance and automated tool and wheel loading technologies. With a reduced footprint (2,500 x 2,335 mm), its cast iron frame incorporates 6-axis kinematics on linear motors for the X, Y and Z axes and on torque motors for the rotary axes (A, B and C), all supplied by FANUC. Controlled by optical encoders with a resolution to within one millionth of a degree, the A and B axes feature a 240° stroke, allowing the automatic production of right- and left-handed helices. And the C axis can rotate at up to 1,000 rpm with the same control resolution. Managed by the FANUC 30i-B CNC system, an integrated measurement sensor enables the detection of any run-out on a tool. A Rollomatic VirtualGrind®Pro software module then automatically compensates for this by correlating the axis movements on the real tool axis. Although much more expensive to install, hydrostatic guidance of the linear axes under oil pressure has been adopted for its dual guarantee in terms of precision and dynamics. First and foremost, the hydrostatic system compensates for any axis tilt, however tiny it might be. In addition, the cooled lubrication oil used for this guidance, guarantees the near-perfect thermal stability of all movements. Controlled by an absolute rule with a resolution of 0.01 µm, the FANUC linear motors ensure extremely precise movements. Finally, the technological principle of the linear motors enables them to respond to commands from the FANUC CNC instantaneously, eliminating any mechanical inertia.

 "Very well protected, the magnets in the FANUC linear motors are positioned with an angle of incidence that generates a perfectly regulated forward movement," Claude Amsler adds.

The GrindSmart®830, 630 and 530 are thus the first machines to combine this level of accuracy in continuous positioning and dynamic movement on precision grinding centres.

... paired with the ultimate in Industry 4.0 automation

Above the spindle axis, the wheel magazine has 15 cleat positions. Each cleat is equipped with an individual lubrication system and can hold 3 wheels. The autonomy offered by this magazine thus allows continuous unmonitored operation, with multiple twin wheels. This autonomy is enhanced by the astute installation of a FANUC LR Mate 200iD 7L robot in the left hand section of the machine. From pre loaded trays in its work environment, the robot automatically feeds the machine spindle for unattended night-time or weekend operation. Its dual clamp gripping system unloads the finished tool and then within seconds loads the rough piece for grinding. The robot and the numerical control communicate naturally via a system entirely managed by FANUC. "The 830XW features a reliable and accurate polyarticulated robot which can be equipped with a vision system for the grinding of plates on the 630XW and the execution of additional tasks," Jean-Marc Dick points out. Smart and automated, the GrindSmart® 830XW is thus ready for integration into smart Industry 4.0 precision grinding workshops. Calculation of the return on this investment should therefore take account of the quality of the work carried out, guaranteeing zero faults, and the autonomy of the machine which optimises overall cost-effectiveness.

A new vision for the machining of cutting tools

A developer of long-term industrial projects, Rollomatic has designed and built a new vision of sharpening machines with this competitive model capable of handling up to Ø 32mm. The geometric precision and surface quality of the tools produced on the GrindSmart® machines will deliver unprecedented performances in the field of grinding. The value added by investors through these top range production means will set them apart. By basing its drive for innovation on the skills of FANUC Switzerland, on the openness of FANUC CNCs, on linear motor technology and on its global network, Rollomatic is now set to embark on new projects for the production of high-performance cutting tools. "Over the last number of years, we have decided to overcome the joint challenges of robotisation and the extension of our range to include larger diameters," explains Damien Wunderlin. "And we had no choice but to position this development in the top end sector, focusing on the future of digital in the coming decades," he adds.

"With the support of FANUC Switzerland and its global network, we are going to succeed in this beyond our expectations," he concludes.