Jeopardy Category: Machine Tool Design & Construction
Jeopardy Answer: Builds machining centers and grinders using double column, fixed beam design
And the question is: Who is Chevalier Machinery?
If you’re unfamiliar with milling or grinding large parts, you might have to be as smart as Alex Trebek, the host of the game show Jeopardy, to guess the correct question. But many successful shops don’t need a clue to know that machine rigidity and repeatability are critical to making quality parts. Jeopardy averted!
Rigidity and repeatability are two of the most important machine performance characteristics. Successful milling and grinding processes require both. But dare I say it—rigidity is more closely associated with milling, and repeatability with grinding. Maybe that’s just my sense of it. But when grinding is needed it’s usually because a good finish and exacting tolerance are indicated. When an application dictates heavy metal removal, milling is usually prescribed.
I was reviewing the Chevalier FVM (Double Column Machining Center) and FSG (Double Column Grinder) technical literature, and that’s when it hit me—Chevalier has borrowed technology from itself. Over years of evolving accurate grinding machine designs, Chevalier has developed proprietary expertise on spindle design (they build their own), positioning feedback systems, scrapped ways, and in-process wheel dressing. Likewise, as they’ve introduced new turning and machining centers designed to withstand the wear and tear of hogging, interrupted cuts, or cutting difficult materials, they’ve learned a thing or two about vibration damping, way construction, and spindle and bed castings.
So is it any wonder that Chevalier’s machining center division might borrow expertise from the grinding division or from the turning division and vice versa? Just look at these two grinding and milling machines side-by-side and note the striking construction and design similarities. May I direct your attention to the bridge frame (double column) and cross rail (fixed beam) construction?
You may ask which double column, fixed beam machine came first: the grinder or the machining center? But does it really matter? The point is that Chevalier has built up years of grinder, machining center, and turning center design expertise, all under the same roof, and they’re applying it universally, where they can. Using similar machine construction concepts for both grinding and milling machines may be a glimpse at the future of machine design. Think about it. Hybrid machines dominate the spotlight in new machine technology these days. In order to turn and mill, or mill and grind, or combine any disparate processes into a single machine, the hybrid machine must be designed to handle both. The Chevalier FVM and FSG series do not combine machining processes, but we clearly see that one design—the double column, fixed beam, can handle the performance requirements of a machining center or a grinder. What other process types might a double column, fixed beam frame ideally support? If the question is rigidity and repeatability, then make it a true daily double and bet that Chevalier is working on the answer.