21st Century Honing with 21st Century Super Abrasives

David Arther, chairman of delapena

Febuary 2018:

In the pre-dawn light of the 4th Industrial revolution, it seems unbelievable that honing is still done ‘hands-on’, but it’s not so long since honing engineers would hold up their hands to show missing fingers, in order to demonstrate how they mastered their craft. In the modern, legislated world, that’s clearly unacceptable, but occasionally still done. So, when presented with the opportunities to make safe the production of components for a wealth of different industries Delapena were only too pleased to introduce the customer to a machine designed with failsafe, interlocking guarding, to remove hands from the work area. This means that operators would no longer be anywhere near the spindle when in motion and no longer requires the component to be guided by hand onto the Honing mandrel. The operation becomes totally hands free; happening at the push of a button, well behind the auto-stop doors.

However, simply making an accurately controlled CNC Honing machine is only part of the solution. The complete solution includes Super Abrasives honing stones and precision fixtures and it is a mix of all these that provides the customer with a repeatable, stable process. Although Delapena has been in the honing business for 90 years it was missing the expertise of Super Abrasive hone manufacture. Delapena had relied on third parties to supply honing abrasives for various applications that demanded specific abrasives to suit specific materials. The fact that Delapena could not manufacture its own Super Abrasives honing stones was compromising the complete solution explained Managing Director Martin Elliott.

In 2015 Delapena took the plunge and invested in a small R+D cell for the manufacture of Super Abrasives and within a matter of weeks developed its 1st range of Honing bonds. The initial objective for the Delapena range of Super Abrasive honing bonds was to become self-sufficient and be able to act quickly with spikes in customer demand. However, the uptake of the new offering soon became a bottleneck on the small scale production facility which prompted Delapena to take the plunge and invest in the latest state of the art equipment. The new equipment was installed in late 2016 and was operational by January 1st 2017.

With all the enquiries for the Super Abrasives, 2017 was a bit of a blur and by the end of the year, Delapena was supplying its products into 6 Automotive Engine plants around the world. One of the reasons for the success was Delapena’ s ability to manufacture new products within 7 days and also to offer consignment stocking of abrasives for the larger users with unpredictable demands.

The Metal Bond Super abrasives market was the 1st target for Delapena product and more recently Delapena has launched Vitrified Super Abrasives and Cork Abrsives to compliment the range.

Metal Bond Abrasive

Metal Bond

Ideal for most general Honing applications

Vitrified Bond Abrasive

Vitrified Bond

Ideal for very hard materials

Cork Bond Abrasive

Cork Bond

Ideal for Plateau honing

What makes Delapena different?

Due to market uncertainty in the UK with Brexit and what the future holds with regard to trade tariffs there has been a move to reshore critical products. Delapena has been very active with the OEM’s in the Automotive Engine industry and now offers:

  • Average costs savings of 30%.
  • Ability to replicate any Honing bonds with 7 days.
  • 2 week leadtimes.
  • Consignment stocking.
  • Protection from currency exchange rates.

Super Abrasives and Industry 4.0

The key message coming from Delapena customers discussing the Honing process and Industry 4.0 is to have a honing machine with a stable process that requires little or no operator intervention. Using standard vitrified bonded abrasives does not lend itself to industry 4.0 due to the wear factor of the abrasives. However, when using Super Abrasives with little wear characteristics it allows the Honing machine to run many hundreds of components before size adjustments are required thus lending itself to a more autonomous process.

Delapena has now reengineered the complete range of its Honing machines to run with Super Abrasives and are now in the midst of implementing smart Industry 4.0 technology onto the Delapena Honing machines. This will lead to a range of machines with Automation and decision making capability enabling maximum productivity gains.

The 1st of these machines will be displayed on the MACH2018 show at the NEC exhibition in April. It will come in the form of a New Vertical Honing machine that can be adapted to customer requirements.

Artical published in Grinding & Surface Finishing Febuary 2018