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What is a Lapping Machine? 

Define Lapping: The term "lapping" is used to describe a number of various surface finishing operations where loose abrasive powders are used as the grinding agent at normally low speeds. It is a process reserved for products that demand very tight tolerances of flatness, parallelism, thickness or finish.

Define Lapping and How it works:

  • Loose Abrasive Process-(LAP)
  • Lapping Involves the Use of Abrasive Particles to Modify the Work-Pieces
  • The Abrasive Particles are Mixed with a Water-Base or Oil Base Liquid. The Combined Abrasive and Liquid are Called a “Slurry”, this is a Liquid Cutting Tool
  • The Slurry is Placed on a Rotating Motorized Platform Called a “Lap Plate”
  • The Work-Piece is then Placed Against the Slurry on the Rotating Lap Plate and the Surface of the Work-Piece is Modified
  • Rolling/Sliding Action of Abrasive Grains Between Plate and Work piece

 Define Lapping Machines: 

  • The two types of flat lapping & polishing systems that Lapmaster provides customers are Single-Side and Double-Side machines
  • Single-side literally means that only one (1) side of a work-piece can be processed at a time. Multiple sides of a work-piece can be processed in total, but only 1 at a time
  • Double-side means that two (2) sides are being processed simultaneously. Multiple sides (more than 2) of a work-piece can be processed, but only 2 at a time.

What Takes Place on a Lapping Machine?

  • The Surface Finish is modified and is usually improved in surface and sub-surface qualitative values (smoother)
  • Geometry (flatness) of the processed surface becomes flat or spherical in contour as a result of Lapping
  • Some amount of material is removed from the Lapped surface of the work
  • A very passive form of grinding (low pressure, low speed, low removal rate)
  • Requires the use of micron-sized Abrasive Particles (not mesh or grit sized abrasive)
  • Some amount of movement is required on the part of the tool (lap plate), the workpiece or both
  • In most cases, lapping is utilized on flat surfaces, not spherical shapes or contours

How Long is a Lapping-Polishing Cycle?

  • A lapping cycle can be as short as 30 seconds, as long as an hour.
  • A typical range for a lapping cycle would be 3-15 minutes.
  • Polishing cycles tend to be a bit different, normally 5 minutes on the low end and up to 3 hours on the high end.
  • A typical range for a polishing cycle would be 10-30 minutes

Single Side Lapping Machine Results

  • Obtainable Tolerances (* Probable with high quality incoming parts, enhanced by running 2 sides andscientifically transposing)
    • Thickness Variation of +/- 0.0002” *
    • Obtainable Parallel of 0.00005” *
  • Flatness of 0.00001” or better for stable components that are de-magnetized. Very thin parts or parts with poor Aspect Ratios do poorly with Single-Side lapping/polishing, but do much better with Double-side machining.
  • Surface Finish only limited to Machine Accessories & Options, Lapping or Polishing Abrasive and Plate (or Pad) which the abrasive is applied.
  • Perpendicularity normally is maintained with standard tooling and can be improved with special tooling
  • Normally, the single-sided machining process will positively impact Flatness specifications by a factor of 10 times or more, subject to the limitations of the equipment and application.
  • Best over-all results are obtained using shorter cycles as opposed to long, extended cycles
  • Based on the above, it is vital that the incoming parts, prior to processing, be of a high overall quality value
  • Further, the pre-lapping process is key to determining the post-process results





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