A flexible robotic grinding system has been used for in situ maintenance of large hydro turbine runners by Hydro-Quebec. Field trials for more than 20 years have proven the reliability and efficiency of the technology for hydropower equipment maintenance and repair. This portable robot named SCOMPI, is developed by IREQ, Research Institute of Hydro-Quebec and can perform high material removal rate grinding on hardly accessible areas of turbine runner blades. Due to the light weight and low rigidity of the robot, traditional position control of conventional grinding is not applicable in this process. Instead a hybrid force/position controller is employed to ensure the accuracy of the predefined material removal rate. Therefore, having a good force model for a specific removal rate is a prerequisite for controlling the grinding task. Understanding the grinding process as the cutting action of several single grits participating in the material removal process provides an insight to predict the needed forces.

This paper presents an investigation of the effects of grits shape on cutting forces in single abrasive cutting mechanism during high removal rate grinding by SCOMPI robot. A three-dimensional finite element model is developed to simulate the chip formation process with different grit shapes. Thermal results from our previous study of temperature distribution in the contact zone for this special robotic grinding are imposed to the un-deformed chips. Then, Johnson-Cook plasticity model is employed to investigate effects of hardening and thermal softening of work piece material in cutting forces. It is also found that, rake angle and cutting edges of the grit can have significant effects on the cutting and normal forces.

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