Surface grinding is the most common of the grinding operations. It is a finishing process that uses a rotating abrasive wheel to smooth the flat surface of metallic or nonmetallic materials to give them a more refined look by removing the oxide layer and impurities on work piece surfaces. This will also attain a desired surface for a functional purpose.
The surface grinder is composed of an abrasive wheel, a workholding device known as a chuck, and a reciprocating or rotary table. The chuck holds the material in place while it is being worked on. It can do this one of two ways: ferromagneticpieces are held in place by a magnetic chuck, while non-ferromagnetic and nonmetallic pieces are held in place by vacuum or mechanical means. A machine vise (made from ferromagnetic steel or cast iron) placed on the magnetic chuck can be used to hold non-ferromagnetic workpieces if only a magnetic chuck is available.
Factors to consider in surface grinding are the material of the grinding wheel and the material of the piece being worked on.
Typical workpiece materials include cast iron and mild steel. These two materials don't tend to clog the grinding wheel while being processed. Other materials are aluminum, stainless steel, brass and some plastics. When grinding at high temperatures, the material tends to become weakened and is more inclined to corrode. This can also result in a loss of magnetism in materials where this is applicable.
The grinding wheel is not limited to a cylindrical shape and can have a myriad of options that are useful in transferring different geometries to the object being worked on. Straight wheels can be dressed by the operator to produce custom geometries. When surface grinding an object, one must keep in mind that the shape of the wheel will be transferred to the material of the object like a reverse image.
Spark out is a term used when precision values are sought and literally means "until the sparks are out (no more)". It involves passing the workpiece under the wheel, without resetting the depth of cut, more than once and generally multiple times. This ensures that any inconsistencies in the machine or workpiece are eliminated.