Understanding the Cause of and Solution to Spindle Failure

Spindles are a necessary component in a variety of industries and serving many applications.  A high quality spindle, designed using the latest technology, makes all the difference in the world.  Yet many don’t know exactly what a spindle is, how it works, why it may fail, and what should be done in the event of a failure.  We’d like to answer these questions for you.

What is a Spindle?

A spindle is a highly precise instrument that utilizes rolling element bearings—typically ball bearings or roller bearings—that are produced with tolerances ground to within millionths of an inch.  The bearings are then fitted into precision ground or bored housings with similar sizes and tolerances, making spindles similar to inspection grade equipment in terms of tolerance. Precision spindles also integrate bearing retaining caps, precision bearing locknuts, precision bearing spacers, and sealing systems, and their configurations are almost endless.  They should be designed to the specific parameters of their application.

Why Does a Spindle Fail?

Most spindles do not fail due to bearing fatigue, as many people think, as they are precisely designed with ample load carrying capacity. Rather, most fail for reasons that include contamination of the bearing lubricant, abuse, improper lubrication procedures, and any combination of these reasons.

Importance of Spindle Failure Evaluation

Because failure reasons are varied and many, it’s crucial to have a spindle repaired by an expert. A proper evaluation will ensure quality repair that will extend the bearing life and limit the need for further repairs, therefore saving money and down time.  Proper evaluation includes a test run (if necessary), cleaning and disassembly of parts, document construction, and thorough parts inspection.

Who Should Repair Your Spindle?

Simply put, a well-repaired spindle should function on the same level as a new spindle.  While many manufacturers will repair their own spindles, they often overlook the full evaluation process and therefore the cause of failure, as well as the importance of cleanliness in the process.  Other smaller shops or repair services lack the resources, space, personnel, and equipment to perform a truly effective repair.  By choosing a company such as EDAC Machinery, repairs are done by those with the capability to design and manufacture new spindles, and they will integrate the latest technology to provide peak operating performance after conducting a thorough evaluation for the cause behind the failure.  A company offering full manufacturing capabilities, engineering support, parts cleaning equipment, and almost infinite knowledge and resources will ensure overall value and longer lasting results down the line.

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EDAC Machinery Common and Differentiating Questions and Answers

EDAC Machinery is a division of EDAC Technologies. EDAC Machinery is split into four business units that provide us with the expertise to meet the ever changing needs of our customers.  Because of the fact we are so diverse; clients are often confused about the specific products and services we can provide. In order to help clear up confusions we have tackled a list of common questions we are asked below. If there are any additional questions please feel free to comment below.
 
What is EDAC Machinery?

EDAC Machinery is a specialty machine tool and spindle manufacturer. It is a division of EDAC Technologies, and it draws upon their leadership position in their industry to enhance it’s own. The four business units that make up the Machinery Division are Gros-Ite Precision Spindle, Service Network International, Accura Technics, and Smith Renaud. These four divisions provide unparalleled capability in the areas of spindle manufacturing, spindle repair, precision grinding including centerless grinding machine manufacture and remanufacture, replacement parts and automation, as well as precision engineering.
 
How long has EDAC Machinery been in business?

While EDAC Machinery is a new organization of its business unit parts, the companies that make up EDAC Machinery have been around for decades and decades and have leadership positions in their niche markets. Smith-Renaud has been in business for over fifty-five years, Gros-Ite Precision Spindle and SNI have been in business since the early Eighties. Accura Technics, a relative newcomer, has been in business for over fifteen years.
 
Where are EDAC Machinery products manufactured, where will my spindle be while it’s being repaired?

EDAC Machinery is located in the New England region of the northeast United States of America. It draws upon the rich depth and tradition of manufacturing engineering expertise in the area, especially in the spindle and grinding spheres.
 
What makes EDAC Machinery a great source for spindle products and services?

The combined engineering talents and manufacturing capabilities of Gros-Ite and Smith-Renaud enable EDAC Machinery to design and build spindles for any application. Any spindle can be repaired, or remanufactured to be repurposed for new applications as customer’s require.
 
What makes EDAC Machinery a great source for grinding machine tools and services?

The combined engineering talents and manufacturing capabilities of SNI and Accura Technics enables EDAC Machinery to manufacture some of the most precise grinding machine tools available for both production and tool room use. Remanufacture of HEALD and all other grinders for enhanced or repurposed applications, automation, as well as parts and field service, are available. Through Smith-Renaud, the same services are available for centerless grinding machine tools.
 
Is my repair or remanufacture work outsourced to another outfit.
All work is done by EDAC Machinery.

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Proper Care of Your Gros-Ite Precision Spindle: Oil Lubrication

A precision spindle is manufactured to gage-like exactness and should be handled carefully. Basic precautions should always be taken in preparing a spindle for operation; among these is the simple act of properly lubricating the bearings of the spindle, which is critical to the life of the machine and its performance.

 If you’re using an oil-mist lubricated spindle, it is highly recommended that the oil mist be started, either manually or automatically, approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the spindle. This allows sufficient wetting of the balls and raceways. Spent oil should be present at all of the vents and around the end caps. Additionally, it is highly recommended that the oil mist be allowed to operate for a period of 10-15 minutes after the spindle is shut down. This serves to act as a purging action to prevent the ingress of contaminants as the spindle cools down.

Similarly, if you’re using an oil-air lubricated spindle, allow the lubricator to run for 5-10 minutes and observe the vents and end-caps at the spindle. There should be air and oil present at these points. Once the presence of air and oil has been verified, begin running the spindle. The temperature of the spindle should be monitored closely for the first hour of operation as a safety precaution.

Attention to proper setup and operation should result in a spindle that reaches its rated life-cycle. The cost to replace a high-quality spindle due to failure from overheating or wear should serve as ample incentive to owners of our spindles to require that operators always observe these basic recommendations.

For more tips on the proper use of our quality products, please see the section on our website on setup and operating instructions. 

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EDAC Machinery – Manufacturing Solutions

EDAC Machinery is a division of EDAC Technologies. EDAC Machinery is split into four business units that provide us with the expertise to meet the ever changing needs of our customers.

One of the business units within EDAC Machinery is Gros-Ite Precision Spindle. Spindles are considered the heart of every machine. Using the right spindle will help optimize a machine tool process for the highest productivity. This product line includes a line of stock spindles that are off the shelf and ready to ship. We also offer custom designed and manufactured spindles. We are able to repair all makes and models of spindles, and perform drawbar verification and dynamic balancing.

Service Network International (SNI) is also part of EDAC Machinery. SNI designs and manufactures internal, external and surface grinders.  This group also does repairs, remanufactures and provides enhancements for any make and model grinder. We can give you competitive offerings on any grinder needs you may have including machine updates.

Accura Technics is another one of our business units that produces grinding machines. Our ultra-precision grinders are built new and used heavily in the bearing, automotive and aerospace industries.

The final business unit under EDAC Machinery is Smith-Renaud. This manufacturing group remanufactures and updates centerless grinding machines. Our engineering specialists have the ability to improve these machines not only by bringing them back to their original state, but by adding updated technology. Our staff can design custom tooling integration with performance certification.

EDAC Machinery has a strong advantage over our competitors because of our diverse and deep range of products and offerings. Providing these options adds value to our company and allows us to be sure we have the best solution for your manufacturing challenges.

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VIBRATION AND MACHINE TOOL UP-TIME

Up-time on a machine can be increased by limiting vibration!

One of the most frequently overlooked topics related to work piece quality and machine tool up-time is the issue of vibration.  Although arbitrary frequencies can be transmitted to a machine through the floor from other sources, vibration on a machine is most usually due to an unbalance condition of the rotating elements on the machine. Vibrations can be generated by machine related sub-systems such a coolant pump or a hydraulic pump, the work head spindle, and the spindle used to support cutting tools or grinding wheels.  The resultant effect is a degeneration of work piece accuracy such as diminishing surface finish, an decrease in parts meeting compliance to roundness specifications, and the wear and tear as it affects the bearings and other critical machine systems.

Rotational vibration is actually the deviation of the rotational mass centerline in relation to the true centerline of rotation.  The amount of deviation caused by an out-of-balance condition is measured as amplitude at any particular operating speed.  The amplitude will increase as the deviation increases.  It is this condition that reduces surface quality and work piece roundness.  Furthermore, it can be concluded that higher amplitudes of vibration will result in greater loads on the supporting bearings.

We can compare the vibration in a machine to an earthquake.  The increased energy of an earthquake as measured on the Richter scale, results in an increase in the severity of the damage.  Higher vibration levels in a work head or spindle will result in higher loads on the bearings and a continuing deterioration of the precision associated with the bearing fits on the shafts and in the housings.

Similarly, an out-of balance wheel on a car will result in wheel shimmy and clearly visible tire wear while wheel bearings deteriorate and fasteners loosen from the vibration.

The vibrations transmitted by motors and their associated drive systems such as pulleys and poor quality belts or couplings can easily be isolated and corrected.  However, resolving these problems on work heads and spindles is more difficult.  Various work holding devises such as chucks and fixtures mounted on work heads are often changed, but rarely balanced.  Tooling such as tool holders retaining a wide variety of cutting tools and wheel holders are changed regularly on spindles with little consideration for balancing.  Further aggravating the imbalance situation is the fact that the runout of work holding and tool holding devices are rarely checked until a problem arises.  Datum surfaces such as tapers, mounting pilots, and adjacent faces need to be thoroughly cleaned.

Generally, precision spindles and work heads are dynamically balanced to exacting standards by the original equipment manufacturers.  Accordingly, vibrations detected in a work head or a spindle is commonly a result of attaching unbalanced work holding mechanisms, tool holders, and tools or grinding wheels.  Maintaining a philosophy of minimizing vibration is a key to optimizing machine up-time.

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