Partnerships Create New Grinding Solutions

October 1, 2001
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Two companies have discovered that developing relationships is often more important than developing off-the-shelf products when it comes to ceramic grinding applications.

Lunzer customizes all of its grinding wheels to meet customer specifications. Photo courtesy of Lunzer Inc.
Visit an industry trade show or open a recent issue of Ceramic Industry magazine, and you’ll find a wealth of new products designed to make ceramic manufacturing easier and more efficient. But off-the-shelf products are not suitable for every application. Sometimes what a company really needs is a business partner—a supplier that is willing to work with them to develop manufacturing solutions, rather than just handing them a product.

With ceramic grinding, such partnerships can be especially crucial. “Manufacturers can’t afford to waste money and product on trial-and-error testing,” says Jay Lunzer, vice president of Lunzer Inc. in Saddle Brook, N.J. “Taking an off-the-shelf grinding wheel and expecting it to work for every application is impossible. Instead, we work with our customers intimately so that we understand their process needs and develop solutions to meet those needs.”

A close-up of a porous AP-bond grinding wheel for hard ceramics. Photo courtesy of Lunzer Inc.

Meeting Industry’s Needs

For Lunzer, a century-old family-owned company that has been selling diamond and superabrasive products in the U.S. for the past 35 years, business has always been a partnership effort. Two years ago, the company partnered with another ceramic industry supplier, Grinding Machines Nuernberg, Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. (a U.S. subsidiary of the German company G&N), to develop entire grinding solutions for ceramic products.

“Ten or 15 years ago, almost all ceramic manufacturers had their own research and development departments and did all of their own research. Today, companies are cutting down on overhead, and it’s up to suppliers to provide many of these services,” says Diether V. Frankenberg, vice president of Grinding Machines Nuernberg. For Frankenberg, partnering with Lunzer was the perfect opportunity to ensure a high level of customer service.

“We had worked with other suppliers in the past, but we really wanted to work with a smaller company—one that was on the same level we are and was willing to take the time to understand our operations,” Frankenberg explains. “Lunzer had been in the business a long time and had an extensive background in the diamond tooling industry, so we decided to work with them. Since our companies are both small (we employ eight people in Charlotte, and Lunzer’s facility in Saddle Brook is about the same size [22 employees]), we work well together and can communicate easily with each other.”

Grinding machines such as Grinding Machines Nuernberg's new V400, which uses Lunzer’s AP-bond diamond grinding wheels, provide customized solutions for specific ceramic grinding applications. Photo courtesy of Grinding Machines Nuernberg.

Product vs. Process

For both Grinding Machines Nuernberg and Lunzer, communication is key to a successful partnership.

“Our customers come to us with a certain type of material they want to grind, and certain specifications they want to achieve in terms of total thickness variation (TTV), flatness and surface finish. We communicate that information to Lunzer, along with information about the machine on which we want to grind, such as stiffness, quantity and wafer size, and Lunzer, in turn, works with us to develop a solution,” says Frankenberg.

Using Grinding Machines Nuernberg’s machines and Lunzer’s AP (advanced polymer) bond diamond grinding wheels, the two companies have developed a number of solutions for specific ceramic grinding applications. For instance, small, fragile ceramic parts, such as ceramic heads for sensors, can now be ground accurately and efficiently in one-third to one-fifth of the time required with conventional lapping and polishing processes. The companies are also working together to develop systems to grind silicon carbide, optical glass, alumina, sapphire, aluminum and titanium carbide, as well as some exotic materials, such as different glasses and materials of different hardnesses.

“These applications are the result of both companies working together in a partnership effort,” says Erwin Lange, application and engineering manager for Grinding Machines Nuernberg.

Lunzer agrees. “Whether it’s a grinding wheel for dressing their ceramic chucks or a finishing wheel for a high performance material such as gallium arsenide, we work with Grinding Machines very closely on each step,” he says. “It’s not just about the machine or tool, but about developing a process to meet the end user’s production needs.”

For More Information

For more information about Lunzer, Inc., contact the company at 280 N. Midland Ave., Saddle Brook, NJ 07663; (201) 794-2800; fax (201) 794-2338; e-mail sales@lunzer.com; or visit www.lunzer.com.

For more information about Grinding Machines Nuernberg, Inc., contact the company at 5005-C West Harris Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28269-1861; (704) 596-5433; fax (704) 596-3822; e-mail info@grinders-us.com; or visit http://www.grinders-us.com.

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