Along with single point cutting and multiple point cutting, abrasive processes enable machinists to remove excess material from workpieces. Both the type of cutting tool and the general position and movement of the tool (relative to the workpiece) prove important during manufacturing.
During a process called "abrasive machining", a machinist relies upon small particles of hardened material to help achieve a desired workpiece shape. Honing, grinding, lapping and polishing all utilize abrasive processes to help remove excess metal.
During the honing process, a machinist undertakes controlled abrading with the assistance of a honing stone (or other hone) scraped or pressed against a portion of the surface of the workpiece in a highly controlled manner. The removal of material occurs at lower speeds than grinding, resulting in the production of far less heat.
Lower temperatures offer reduced dimensional stress to the conformation of a metal workpiece during honing compared with grinding. Honing may enable a manufacturer to remove excess material selectively, without distorting the shape of a component or fracturing it. For instance, honing offers a way of shaping the cutting edge of a bore or razor with precision.
Honing equipment typically proves simple in design. During former eras, for instance, early craftsmen used "honing stones" to perform metal work on a variety of farm tools and weapons. Professional chefs still utilize this primitive technology today to sharpen knives.
Today in busy manufacturing environment, companies utilize manually operated honing tools or automated honing equipment. Honing machines used for industrial purposes commonly permit this machining process to modify interior holes or cavities ranging from 0.060 inches in diameter up to 6 inches across. Manufacturers may custom design honing machines for larger projects. In the past, this type of equipment frequently utilized either horizontal or vertical multiple spindles capable of honing multiple units.
A number of specific honing operations assist modern machine process technology. Some of the most important categories of honing include:
Rough Honing: The initial, or preliminary honing operation in many manufacturing environments. It may assist in preparing a workpiece surface for further finishing operations.
Finish Honing: The final, or terminal honing operation performed by a metal parts manufacturer.
Microhoning (or "Superfinishing"): Also known as "microfinishing" or "short stroke honing", the operation of superfinishing employs abrading materials or a tape to remove a very fine, thin surface layer of metal from a metal workpiece in order to leave a "cross hatch" texture. This process typically uses a rotating wheel to dispense abrading material uniformly onto workpieces in mechanized industrial environments.
Free Form Honing (or "Abrasive Flow Machining"): This term sometimes refers to removing metal protrusions or "burrs" from the interior of a workpiece by permitting an abrading viscous fluid to flow freely through the interior, eroding the surface.
Laser Honing: A manufacturer may utilize laser beams as an abrading force in order to perform a honing operation on a metal part.
Plateau Honing: This operations helps create a finely textured "plateau finish" without visible protrusions on the surface of the metal. In automotive manufacturing, this process may involve polishing bores with very finely grit stone or cork after the initial honing. Some manufacturers brush the part following honing.
Single-Stroke Honing:A manufacturer uses a sleeve coated with an abrasive material to hone a bore or other workpiece positioned inside. Typically, the sleeve tapers in order to enable it to maintain the workpiece in an optimal position.
Potentially, honing changes both the texture of a metal workpiece surface and its dimensions. It may play a useful role in recovering parts with minor imperfections which do not meet quality controlled specifications, for instance. Selective honing may permit a part with minor irregularities in form or texture to achieve a desired shape.
Manufacturers will sometimes utilize honing extensively in precision engineering environments. For example, this machining process often plays a role in the production of finished cylinders which must meet specific dimensional requirements in order to function effectively as components in internal combustion engines. Companies also rely upon honing during the production of gears.
Honing process offers a number of potential benefits. The cost-effectiveness of honing may vary, however, based upon the individual part and production expenses.
Some important reasons to perform honing during metal component manufacturing include the ability to correct many different types of bore defects. Honing may enhance a tool's cutting capacity, improve adherence to manufacturer specifications, and increase dimensional accuracy or finishing readiness. In some circumstances, honing also permits cost savings by permitting the rehabilitation of slightly irregular parts.
In certain machining environments, honing greatly assists companies in maintaining tools and cutting implements in good working condition. A manufacturer may avoid throwing away a cutting blade prematurely by honing a dulled edge, for instance.