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Title:
APPARATUS FOR CUTTING OFF MATERIALOGRAPHIC SAMPLES FROM A SPECIMEN
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1995/021043
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus for cutting off materialographic samples from a specimen (16) by abrasive cutting has a stepmotor (6) with associated stepmotor driver (55) for feeding a rotating abrasive cutting wheel (8) against a specimen (16), or vice versa. The stepmotor driver (55) supplies to the stepmotor (6) current pulses, the current value of which determines the feeding force, while their frequency determines the feeding speed. The apparatus further comprises an electronic data processor (51) for adjusting, co-ordinating and displaying the parameters of the abrasive cutting operation. The processor (51) can be used for manual or automatic correlation of feeding speed and feeding force. In carrying out this correlation it is possible to obtain intermittent cutting, if desired involving retraction of the abrasive cutting wheel (8) and the specimen (16) from one another from time to time to establish a free interspace, which optimizes the efficiency of water flushing in the cutting area.

Inventors:
Hansen
Jens
Frimann, Jorgensen
Gert
Application Number:
PCT/DK1995/000054
Publication Date:
August 10, 1995
Filing Date:
February 06, 1995
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Struers, A/s Hansen
Jens
Frimann, Jorgensen
Gert
International Classes:
B23D47/04; B23D47/08; B23D59/00; B24B27/06; G05B19/416; (IPC1-7): B24B27/06
Foreign References:
GB916849A
GB1394707A
GB2203972A
US3467075A
US4424649A
US4903437A
Download PDF:
Claims:
P a t e n t C l a i m s:
1. Apparatus for cutting off materialographic samples from a spe cimen (16,21,101), comprising an abrasive cutting wheel (8,28,104) driven by a cutting motor (12,33), and feeding means for advancing the cutting wheel relative to the specimen or vice versa, characte¬ rized in that the feeding means comprise a stepmotor (6,26,54,105) to which current pulses are supplied from an associated stepmotor driver (55,121).
2. Apparatus as, in claim 1, characterized in that it comprises an electronic data processor (51,120) for adjusting, coordinating and displaying the parameters of the abrasive cutting operation.
3. Apparatus as in claim 2, characterized in that the processor (51,120) is arranged to permit preselection of a tentative value of the feeding speed and a maximum permissible value of the feeding force.
4. Apparatus as in claim 3, characterized in that the preselected maximum permissible value of the feeding force is represented by a preselected maximum permissible current value of the pulses supplied by the stepmotor driver (55,121) to the stepmotor (6,26,54,105).
5. Apparatus as in claim 3, characterized in that it comprises a strain gauge (70) for directly measuring the feeding force and a connection (80,81) for entering the measured value into the proces¬ sor (51) for comparison with a preselected maximum permissible value of the feeding force as expressed in force units.
6. Apparatus as in any of claims 35, characterized in that it comprises an encoder (7,27,59) coupled to the stepmotor (6,26,54) and provided with an electric connection (60) to the processor (51) for registering therein the number of actual feeding steps of the stepmotor (6,26,54) and thereby the relative position of the cutting wheel (8,28) and the specimen (16,21) in the feeding direction (the Ydirection) as counted from a reference position.
7. Apparatus as in claim 6, characterized in that the processor (51) is so arranged that, when a tentative value of the feeding speed is entered, it starts a calculation of the actual feeding speed based on the number of actual feeding steps registered by the encoder (7,27,59) during a predetermined time interval.
8. Apparatus as in claim 7, characterized in that the processor (51,120) is arranged to adjust the number of revolutions of the stepmotor (6,26,54,105) and thereby the feeding speed in dependence on the preselected maximum permissible value of the feeding force.
9. Apparatus as .in any of claims 28, characterized in that the processor (51,120) is so arranged as to be capable of commanding the stepmotor (6,26,54,105) alternately to stop and execute one or more feeding steps, or alternately to execute one or more reverse steps and a greater number of feeding steps.
10. Apparatus as in any of claims 29, characterized in that it comprises means (85) for measuring the instantaneous value of the power of the cutting motor (33) and a connection for entering the measured value into the processor (51) for comparison with prese¬ lected values of the power of the cutting motor (33).
11. Apparatus as in claim 2, characterized in that the processor (51,120) is arranged to execute a programmed adjustment of the torque, the number of revolutions per time unit, and the direction of rotation of the stepmotor (6,26,54,105) during the progress of the cutting operation.
12. Apparatus as in claim 11, characterized in that the processor (51,120) comprises a memory for storing a plurality of programs for different materials, including identification of a suitable abrasive cutting wheel .
13. Apparatus according to any of claims 212, characterized in that it comprises a second stepmotor (76,112) for displacing the specimen (21,101) and the cutting wheel (28,104) a preselected number of steps relative to one another prependicularly to the cutting wheel (28,104) (the Xdirection) from one cutting position to a next one.
14. Apparatus as in claim 13, characterized in that the specimen (101) is clamped to an arm (103), which is fixed to a shaft (106), which is rotatably and axially displaceably mounted in a fixed bearing (107) and is adapted to be rotated by means of a first stepmotor (105) in the Ydirection for swinging the arm (103) towards and away from a fixedly mounted cutting wheel (104), and to be displaced in the Xdirection, i.e. perpendicularly to the cutting wheel (104) by means of a second stepmotor (112).
Description:
APPARATUS FOR CUTTING OFF MATERIALOGRAPHIC SAMPLES FROM A SPECIMEN.

In the materialographic analysis of the microstructure of a material it is frequently necessary to cut off a small portion, the sample, from a large specimen. The cut-off sample must be suitable for treatment in a conventional grinding/polishing machine, in which the surface formed by the cutting operation is pressed against a rotat¬ ing grinding/polishing disc, usually in a plurality of steps with grinding/polishing cover sheets of increasing fineness placed on the surface of the grinding/polishing disc.

Materialographic analysis is used for numerous materials of widely varying character, i.a. metals (metallography), ceramic materials, composite materials, bones, etc..

For cutting off materialographic samples from a specimen apparatus are known comprising a rotating abrasive cutting wheel and feeding means for advancing the abrasive cutting wheel relative to the specimen, or vice versa. An abrasive cutting wheel normally consists of grinding grains in a binder and can typically have a thickness of

0.3-3 mm. When the abrasive cutting wheel and the specimen are advanced towards one another, it cuts its way through the specimen at a certain force, the feeding force, and a feeding speed adapted thereto.

It is of great importance that the cutting of a materialographic sample should take place as gently as possible, so that the struct¬ ure of the material in the surface of the cut-off sample is main¬ tained as far as possible intact. For this reason a cooling liquid is always applied during cutting (wet cutting). The better the condition of gentleness is fulfilled, the faster and simpler can the subsequent treatment in a grinding/polishing machine be completed.

It is likewise important that the abrasive cutting wheel should not at any time be overstrained, whereby it can be damaged and possibly distorted.

The most gentle cutting can often be obtained by intermittent feed, i.e. the cutting operation is interrupted during short time

intervals, whereby a small interspace is formed between the cut surface of the specimen and the cutting edge of the abrasive cutting wheel. Thereby an opportunity is established that metal particles, that may have stuck to the abrasive cutting wheel and impede the cutting, and any blunt grinding grains may be knocked off by virtue of the instantaneously increased cutting pressure created in the cutting area by the inertia when the abrasive cutting wheel is re-engaged. Besides the cooling of the cutting area by the cooling liquid will be improved when the interspace is formed. The said metal particles and blunt grinding grains in the cutting edge of the abrasive cutting wheel will produce an increased development of heat in the cutting area and should therefore, as far as possible, be avoided.

In the known apparatus of the kind in question, the feeding is effected hydro-pneumatically, hydraulically or by means of an electric motor with a gear. An example of hydro-pneumatic feeding is known from GB-A-2203972, where the feeding force can be varied by adjustment of the input air pressure, and the feeding speed can be varied by choking of the oil flowing in the system during feeding.

In the use of the known apparatus it is difficult to obtain certain¬ ty that the sample and/or the abrasive cutting wheel are not sub¬ jected to injury by errors in handling, or that the operator, out of cautiousness, selects a lower feeding speed than required, and thereby reduces the productivity.

It is the object of the invention to construct an apparatus of the kind in question in such a manner as to avoid these drawbacks.

The distinguishing feature of the invention is that the feeding means comprise a stepmotor to which current pulses are supplied from an associated stepmotor driver.

Such a stepmotor has the property that at a given current value of the pulses supplied to it from the stepmotor driver it stalls if it is loaded with a torque exceeding a certain limit value, but, upon missing one or more steps, is re-started if and when the loading torque drops below the limit value.

In an apparatus according to the invention the loading torque represents the feeding force, and the pulse frequency represents the feeding speed. If the feeding speed is selected so high that the feeding force rises to a permissible limit value, which does not yet result in risk of injury to the sample and/or the abrasive cutting wheel, the feeding is stopped until the feeding force has again dropped to below the limit value.

It is therefore free of risk tentatively to start out with a rela- tive high value of the feeding speed and then to re-adjust for ap¬ proaching an optimum value, which can then be used as tentative value for similar jobs.

Further features of the invention will be apparent from the follow- ing description with reference to the drawing, in which

Fig. 1 is a schematic side view of a first embodiment of an appa¬ ratus according to the invention,

Fig. 2 is a top view of same,

Fig. 3 is a schematic side view of a second embodiment of an appa¬ ratus according to the invention, partly in section,

Fig. 4 is a top view of same,

Fig. 5 is an electric diagram for the two embodiments of Figs. 1,2 and 3,4,

Fig. 6 is a schematic side view of a third embodiment of an appa¬ ratus according to the invention, partly in section,

Fig. 7 is a top view of same,

Fig. 8 is an electric diagram for the embodiment of Fig. 7,

Fig. 9 is a schematic side view of a fourth embodiment of an appa¬ ratus according to the invention,

Fig. 10 is a top view of same, and

Fig. 11 is an electric diagram for the embodiment of Figs. 9,10.

In the embodiment of Figs. 1 and 2, 1 is a shaft which is rotatably mounted in bearings 2 and 3 and carries a flat arm 4. The shaft 1 is coupled to a stepmotor 6 through a gearbox 5. The stepmotor 6 is, in well known manner, driven for stepwise rotation by current pulses from a stepmotor driver 55, which is again controlled by an electro- nic data processor 51, as described below with reference to fig. 5. Connected to the stepmotor 6 is an encoder 7, the function of which will likewise be described with reference to Fig. 5.

A shaft 17 is rotatably mounted at the free end of the arm 4 and carries an abrasive cutting wheel 8. The shaft 17 is driven through a wedge section belt drive 9,10,11 from a motor 12, the cutting motor, which is mounted on top of the arm 4. The weight of the arm 4 and the motor 12 is outbalanced by means of a gas spring 13.

14 is a stationary table on which a vice 15 is mounted. A specimen 16, from which a sample is to be cut off by means of the abrasive cutting wheel 8, is shown to be clamped in the vice 15.

In the embodiment of Fig. 3 and 4, 23 is a table which is slidably suspended in two guides 24 and can be displaced on these by means of a helical spindle 25 engaging a nut 79, which is fixedly connected with the table 23. The helical spindle 25 is driven by a stepmotor 26 with associated stepmotor driver 55. An encoder 27 corresonding to the encoder 7 in Fig. 2 is coupled to the stepmotor 26.

A transverse table 78 is provided on top of the table 23 and is guided for displacement transversely of the table 23 by means of two guides 75. The transverse movement is established by means of a helical spindle 77 engaging a screw thread in the transverse table and driven by a stepmotor 76 with associated stepmotor driver 79. The transverse table 78 carries a vice 22, in which a specimen 21 is shown to be clamped.

28 is an abrasive cutting wheel fixedly mounted on a shaft 29 which

is rotatably mounted in stationary bearings, not shown, and is driven through a wedge section belt drive 30,31,32 from a cutting motor 33.

In this embodiment the specimen 21 is thus movable relative to the cutting wheel 28 in two directions perpendicular to one another, viz. in the feeding direction parallel to the cutting wheel 28, in the following referred to as the Y-direction, and in the transverse direction perpendicularly to the cutting wheel, in the following referred to as the X-direction.

During a cutting; oepration the stepmotor 76 is immmobilized in the position to which is has latest been moved, as described below. The cutting operation is therefore equivalent for this embodiment and that of Fig. 1 and 2, and will in the following be explained in detail with reference to Fig. 5.

In the diagram of Fig. 5, 51 is an electronic data processor serving to adjust, co-ordinate and display the parameters of the cutting operation, partly by direct key entry, partly by calling a program stored in the processor 51, as mentioned below. The processor 51 has a keyboard 52 and a display 53. 54 represents the stepmotor 6 and 26 shown in Figs. 1,2 and 3,4, respectively. 55 is a stepmotor driver for the stepmotor 54. The processor 51 is connected with the step- motor driver 55 through output signal conductors 56 for pulse frequency, 57 for current value of the pulses, and 58 for direction of rotation of the stepmotor, and with an encoder 59, representing the encoder 7 and 27 of Figs. 1,2 and 3,4, respectively, through an input signal conductor 60 for position. The encoder 59 is shown by dotted lines to be coupled to the gear 5 provided in the embodiment of Figs. 1 and 2.

Through the conductor 60 the encoder registers in the processor 51 the number of actual feeding steps of the stepmotor 54 and thereby the relative position of the cutting wheel 8,28 and the specimen 16,21 in the feeding direction (the Y-direction) as counted from a reference position, so that one or more positions can be re-estab¬ lished.

The processor 51 is arranged to permit preselection of a tentative ' value of the feeding speed and a maximum permissible value of the feeding force. In the embodiments of Figs. 1,2 and 3,4, the select¬ ion of the maximum permissible value of the feeding force takes place by selection of a maximum permissible current value of the pulses supplied by the stepmotor driver 55 to the stepmotor 54. When such a selection has been entered, and the operator then enters a tentative value of the feeding speed, which is represented by the pulse frequency, the processor automatically starts a counting of the actual feeding steps registered by the encoder during a prede¬ termined time interval and on this basis calculates the actual value of the feeding speed. Both the tentative and the actual feeding speed are shown in the display, and if the actual feeding speed is less than the tentative, the operator can enter a new selection of the feeding speed and can in this manner make an approach to an optimum value, as previously mentioned.

It is, however, also possible to automatize the adjustment of an optimum value of the feeding speed at a given value of the feeding force, viz. by arranging the processor 51 to adjust the number of revolutions of the stepmotor and thereby the feeding speed in dependence on the preselected maximum permissible value of the feeding force.

An important element of the invention is the above mentioned inter¬ mittent cutting, where the processor is so arranged as to be capable of commanding the stepmotor alternately to stop and execute one or more feeding steps, or alternately to execute one or more reverse steps and a greater number of feeding steps. Hereby it is obtained that the feeding movement of the cutting wheel is either stopped or reversed, whereafter the ensuing feeding motion will produce a momentaneously higher pressure in the cutting area, and the above mentioned effect is achieved. The stepmotor as a feeding means offers special facilities for an efficient intermittent cutting, because both stepwise feeding, stop and stepwise reverse movement can be better controlled than with other types of motors.

The second stepmotor 76 in the embodiment of Figs. 3 and 4 serves to displace the specimen 21 a preselected number of steps relative to

the cutting wheel 28 in a direction perpendicular to the cutting wheel (the X-direction) from one cutting position to a next one. The selected number of steps, as e.g. expressed in mm, is entered into the processor 51 by the operator, whereby the stepmotor driver 79 is activated to transmit the required number of pulses to the stepmotor 76 and then to stop it. Each step can e.g. amount to 0.005 mm. Thereby it becomes possible to cut off samples of a preselected height in the X-direction with very high precision.

Before cutting off the first sample from a specimen, the operator may perform an idle run in which the free end of the specimen 21 is moved past the cutting wheel 28 without touching it. The idle run can be observed through a window in the cabinet of the apparatus. When the contour of the specimen is on the point of reaching the contour of the cutting wheel, the operator may by actuating a command store the Y-position registered by the encoder 27 in a memory of the processor 51 as a starting position for subsequent cutting operations, and when the contour of the specimen has just left the contour of the cutting wheel, the operator may similarly by actuating a command store the Y-position in the memory as an end position for the cutting operations. The processor may be so arran¬ ged that simultaneously with the storage of the end position it returns the specimen to the starting position.

After the idle run the operator may first upon entering a number of X-steps perform a clean cutting operation, and thereafter, as above described, a cutting of one or more samples having the preselected height in the X-direction, each time starting in the stored starting position and ending in the stored end position.

Before each withdrawal in the Y-direction from the end position to the starting position the specimen may be automatically retracted a few steps in the X-direction, so that it will not interfere with the cutting wheel .

The embodiment of Figs. 6 and 7 differs from that of Figs. 3 and 4 in that the helical spindle 25 engages a nut 72 which is slidably mounted in the table 23. Attached to the nut 72 is a resilient bridge 71, the ends of which are engaged between fixed stops 73 in

the interior of the table 23. The bridge is provided with a strain gauge 70 which is influenced by the bending of the bridge 71 and thereby produces a voltage which is a direct measure of the force at which the specimen 21 is fed towards the cutting wheel 28.

The diagram of Fig. 8 for the embodiment of Figs. 6 and 7 corre¬ sponds largely to that of Fig. 5. It shows, however, that the strain gauge 70 is connected to the processor 51 through an analog-digital converter 80 and an input conductor 81. In the processor the feeding force measured by the strain gauge is compared with a preselected maximum permissible value of the feeding force as expressed in force units. The processor is thereby caused to send an order to the stepmotor driver to change the current value of the pulses to the stepmotor 54 until the return signal from the strain gauge shows that the directly measured value of the feeding force is lower than the preselected value, but as closely up to this as possible. When the current value of the pulses has been established in this manner, the apparatus functions in the same way as that of Figs. 3 and 4. This also applies to the displacement of the specimen in the X-di- rection by means of the stepmotor 76, and the feeding and reverse movement in the Y-direction between the starting position and the end position of a cutting operation by means of the stepmotor 26.

The embodiment of Figs. 6 and 7 has the advantage over that of Figs. 3 and 4 that it is possible to work at a feeding force s ery close to the maximum value which the specimen and the cutting disc can withstand without suffering injury, and at a correspondingly high value of the feeding speed.

in the embodiment of Figs. 3 and 4, where the maximum permissible value of the feeding force is represented by a preselected current value of the pulses, it must on the other hand be taken into account that, owing to uncertainty of the specifications of the stepmotor and possible variations of transmission losses from the stepmotor to the area of engagement between the cutting wheel and the specimen, the feeding force produced by a given current value is subject to a considerable uncertainty, so that, to obtain safety against exceed¬ ing the maximum permissible actual feeding force, it is necessary to select a maximum permissible current value considerably lower than

the value that would apply under optimum conditions.

Since it cannot be taken for granted that the cutting wheel 28 will always function at its optimum, because it may be worn down or damaged, situations may occur where the cutting wheel at a given speed of rotation produces substantially more frictional heat than a cutting wheel in good standing, whereby a risk of superheating of the cutting area arises. A similar situation may occur if the operator has selected a wrong cutting wheel.

To alleviate this risk, Fig. 8 illustrates that a power meter 85 is inserted in a supply circuit for the cutting motor, controlled by the processor 51, the power meter in turn sending a measure signal back to the processor 51. In this manner it becomes possible to control the power of the cutting motor 33 in accordance with prede¬ termined values stored in the processor 51 and, if desired, upon exceeding a maximum permissible value of the power, to stop the cutting operation and produce a visual and/or acoustic error signal.

In the embodiment illustrated in Figs. 9-11, a specimen 101 is clamped to an arm 103 by means of clamping bolts 102. The arm 103 is adapted to be swung in a direction towards and away from a fixedly mounted cutting wheel 104. The arm 103 is attached to a shaft 106, which is rotatably and displaceably mounted in a stationary bearing 107. The shaft 106 carries a gear wheel 109 meshing with a gear wheel 108 mounted on the shaft of a first stepmotor 105 to which current pulses are supplied from an associated stepmotor driver 121. This is controlled from an electronic data processor 120 in exactly the same manner as the stepmotor driver 55 and the processor 51 in the embodiment of Figs. 3, 4 and 5.

The gear wheel 108 also meshes with a gear wheel 110, to which a potentiometer 111 is connected. The latter has a stationary output contact, which is connected to the processor and thereby enters a voltage value representing the angle of rotation of the arm 103 from a reference position, and thereby the position of the arm in the Y-direction.

For moving the arm 103 in the X-direction, i.e. perpendicularly to

the cutting wheel 104, a second stepmotor 112 is provided, the associated stepmotor driver 122 of which is controlled by the processor 120. A helical spindle 113 connected to the stepmotor engages a nut 115. This carries a pin 116 which extends into a rectilinear guide 136 and thereby prevents the nut 115 from rotat¬ ing. At the stepwise rotation of the stepmotor 112 in one direction and the other the nut 115 is thereby displaced axially forth and back. At each end of the guide a microswitch 117 is arranged. These form end stops for the axial movement of the nut 115 by interrupting the current supply to the stepmotor 112.

The shaft 106 res,ts against the front end of the nut 115 through matching spherical surfaces 137, one of which is convex, and the other concave. The shaft 106 is kept in contact with the nut 115 by a spring 118, so that it follows the nut when this is retracted.

Owing to the spherical contact surfaces 137 between the nut 115 and the shaft 106, the two bearings 107 and 114 need not necessarily be precisely co-axial, whereby the construction of the apparatus is simplified. Also in other respects the constructional arrangement of the apparatus is simplified.

Similarly as in the embodiment of Figs. 3 and 4, the operator may, by means of the stepmotors 105 and 112, begin by performing an idle run in which the starting and end positions in the Y-direction for a cutting operation are determined by observation and are stored in the processor 120 on the basis of the voltage value from the poten¬ tiometer, which here takes over the function of the encoder 59, whereafter the stepmotor 112 is used for displacement of the arm 113 in the X-direction and thereby for the cutting of one or more samples within the limits determined by the end stops formed by the microswitches 117.

In this embodiment the maximum permissible feeding force is deter- mined by entering a maximum permissible current value of the pulses supplied by the stepmotor driver 121 to the stepmotor 105.

In all the embodiments described the specimen, instead of being clamped in a fixed vice or the like, may in a manner known per se be

clamped in a holder imparting to it a rotary or oscillating movement parallel to the cutting wheel, as the cutting operation proceeds. This will contribute towards gentle treatment of the specimen and the cutting wheel, because the cutting position is constantly moved. Besides it becomes possible to cut samples with a larger cross-sec¬ tional dimension relative to the diameter of the cutting wheel.