Because of recent advances in precision engineering that allow controlled grinding infeed rates as small as several nanometers per grinding wheel revolution, it is possible to grind brittle materials so that the predominant material-removal mechanism is plastic-flow and not fracture. This process is known as ductile-regime grinding. When brittle materials are ground through a process of plastic deformation, surface finishes similar to those achieved in polishing or lapping are produced. Unlike polishing or lapping, however, grinding is a deterministic process, permitting finely controlled contour accuracy and complex shapes. In this paper, the development of a research apparatus capable of ductile-regime grinding is described. Furthermore, an analytical and experimental investigation of the infeed rates necessary for ductile-regime grinding of brittle materials is presented. Finally, a model is proposed, relating the grinding infeed rate necessary for ductile material-removal with the properties of the brittle workpiece material.

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