United Grinding Group hosts grinding symposium

The United Grinding Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of precision machines for grinding, eroding, laser, measuring and combination machining held its celebrated Grinding Symposium in Thun, Switzerland over three days from 8 to 10 May 2019. This is only the fourth time in the group’s history that such a symposium has been held and it brought together over 1 500 international visitors, including customers of the Group and international trade journalists.

With its eight well-known brands Mägerle, Blohm, Jung, Studer, Schaudt, Mikrosa, Walter and Ewag, United Grinding offers a broad range of application knowledge, an extensive product portfolio and a complete array of services for surface and profile grinding, cylindrical grinding and tool machining.

The various companies within the group are split up according to the applications of the machines that they manufacture. Mägerle, Blohm and Jung form the surface and profile grinding technology group, while the cylindrical grinding technology group comprises Studer, Schaudt and Mikrosa. The tool grinding technology group includes the Walter and Ewag brands.

Within these companies the United Grinding Group manufactures 150 different types of machines, some being variants.

United Grinding Group’s CEO Stephan Nell

13 technology presentations were given by the company

The tradition of the group companies goes back more than one hundred years, during which more than 150 000 machines were manufactured and delivered throughout the world. With a turnover of around 700 million euro the group has around 2 500 employees based at 20 branches and 10 production facilities. The newest of the production facilities was established at a greenfield site in the US in 2018.

Headquartered in Bern, Switzerland the group has its main manufacturing facilities in Switzerland and Germany but also manufactures its equipment in the US and China, amongst other countries. In June 2018 the United Grinding Group was purchased by a group of strategically oriented pool of investors organised by the Swiss BZ Bank Aktiengesellschaft.

The innovative technologies of the companies in the United Grinding Group have a broad range of applications, from single part production to mass production, from small businesses to large corporations, and are used in a wide range of industries. Key areas are the automotive and supplier industry, medical, aerospace industry, tooling, die and mould, transportation and heavy industry, machine manufacturers, energy and precision engineering.

Visitors to the symposium were able to see the latest products from the individual brands on display and attend the 13 technology presentations given by the company experts. The range of topics included the advantages of digital solutions for production machine operators, how user interfaces should be designed to enable ideal machine operation, and what role additive manufacturing can play in machine building.

One of the main attractions of the symposium and exhibits was the Future-Lab stand

The symposium brought together over 1 500 international visitors

Held in converted army barracks in the picturesque town of Thun in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland region with a backdrop of sweeping views of the Alps, one of the main attractions of the symposium and exhibits was the Future-Lab stand where United Grinding showcased current and future applications including additive manufacturing and laser micro-threading. The company is already using many 3D printed parts in its own machines including the universal cylindrical grinding machine Studer Favorit.

On the Favorit, Studer leverages additive manufacturing technology to build parts such as the hydraulic block, which is more efficient in materials handling, storage and assembly, because the overall number of parts was reduced from five to one. Moreover, flow paths can be made with cross-sections that are square instead of round, reducing turbulent flow by 20 per cent with the same channel width, says United Grinding.

In addition to the opportunities and challenges in the cooperation of human and machine or the potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the manufacturing industry, there were also practical production topics, such as experiences with the innovative WireDress® dressing technology.

“Our aim in presenting these future technologies is to create a dialogue with our customers and to discover more about their individual expectations and requirements,” explained Chief Technology Officer Christoph Plüss.

Some machines on display were shown with an integrated robot

The United Grinding Group has eight well-known brands within the group

In his address to the press CEO Stephan Nell did not reveal any new machine developments or technology introductions. With the EMO 2019 exhibition around the corner it was not surprising. However, he did mention that 2018 was the group’s best year ever in terms of turnover but expected 2019 to be slightly down.

Running concurrently to the symposium was a colloquium, where invited international experts gave 16 presentations. A broad range of topics were covered including digitisation, AI, MEMS sensors for machine and process monitoring, trends in tool development and think laser in online tool manufacturing.

Among the machines on display was the Mägerle MFP 30 grinding center, a new compact 5-axis grinding center for machining aircraft engine blades. There were also the relatively new Studer S31 and S33 universal cylindrical grinding machines. One of the main features of the S31 and S33’s updated versions is the extended range of distances between centers. Both the S31, designed for grinding workpieces in individual, small-batch and high-volume production, and the S33, designed for medium-sized workpieces, are now available with distance between centers of 400mm and 1 600mm, respectively, complementing the existing 650mm and 1 000mm sizes.

Schaudt presented its compact and highly versatile ShaftGrind S cylindrical grinding machine with an integrated robot, Mikrosa had its Kronos S 250 centerless grinding machine, Walter displayed its two-in-one concept – eroding and/or grinding using one machine – and had two new Helitronic models on display, Ewag displayed its Profile Line, a high-precision, flexible 5-axis grinding center, Jung presented the J600 surface and profile grinding machine and Blohm the Profimat XT production grinding machine.

For further details visit www.grinding.ch