One surface grinder, two names: The Sundstrand-Arter era
Updated: Sep 16
Contact: Ben Nordman, Marketing & Communications Manager
The history behind the Arter surface grinding machine can be a long, winding road the further one goes back. While the name of the renowned surface grinder has been stamped onto one of the most prominent features of the grinder, the cast iron body, for a large majority of it’s time, there was a period where the Arter name was nowhere to be found on the grinder.
Upon the end of World War II, in which the Arter Grinding Machine Company was awarded for its war effort, the machine tool company was at peak production with thousands of grinders leaving the Worchester, Massachusetts facility per year.
The decade turned from the 1940s to the 1950s and with that came a need for expansion for Arter. They did just that in 1955, as they decided on purchasing the rights to produce the IG-103 and EG-103 surface grinder from the Grenby Manufacturing Company.
These two grinder models were dual-purpose and designed for tool room or production work in small work spaces. A simple change of the wheel-heads transforms it from a plain cylindrical grinder to an internal grinder. Poor record keeping through the transition of the models from the Grenby Manufacturing Company to Arter, the EG-103 and IG-103 were not very popular and parts lists were often inaccurate.
Only a few years later in 1958, while the reasoning is not quite clear from internal documentation, the Arter Grinding Machine Company was sold to Sundstrand Machine Tool in Belvidere, Illinois, who began integrating it into its capital goods division while production and sales of the Sundstrand-Arter grinders began immediately.
Changes to Arter Grinders
As modifications began to the line, Sundstrand-Arter grinders were slowly transitioned in name to only bear the Sundstrand name. While the change in name on the grinder was different, the design was the same as that of previous Arter grinding machines.
Small changes were made to previous models by Sundstrand, with the Models A, B, D, and E all receiving upgrades under the ownership.
In 1965, Sundstrand began producing one of the most popular “Arter” grinders, the Model H. This machine was to replace the Model B and featured anywhere from a 16” to 40” chuck on it. The chuck also was able to tilt both 10 degrees convex and concave, with the main purpose of the grinder matching those made before it, to remove heavy stock and provide a superior finish, flatness, and parallelism.
The "Arter" name was dropped from the surface grinder line as Sundstrand developed and produced new models. Here is a Sundstrand Model H-16 surface grinder, which is a part of the Arter product line.
The grinders were so popular due to their durability, with the completely cast iron machine providing decades of service and many of them still being used today.
With the Model H providing a new direction for the surface grinder line, Sundstrand looked to further its competitive edge in the market with the development of single-pass grinding.
The thought behind the new process was to remove all necessary stock from a piece of material with one pass. In order to achieve this, the wheel would have to travel at 10,000 surface feet per minute (SFPM), with other surface grinding processes ranging between 3500 to 6000 SFPM. The real achievement by developing this new way to grind was to not sacrifice the finish nor accuracy of the grind while increasing productivity of the grinder.
Many Sundstrand grinders that are Arter models are still in use today, with the most popular being the Model H.
At the time, it was believed that the single-pass grinding would make a machine eight times more productive than a standard horizontal spindle grinding technique. Tests done at the Sundstrand test lab indicated that 0.125” of stock could be removed with the single pass. Additionally, the material would be cool to the touch immediately after finishing the grind, while a 0.0001” tolerance on size and flatness was maintained.
Sundstrand attempted to put this new technique in the Model H, and while the tests were successful, the production models were not able to last and the technique was discontinued on the Sundstrand grinders.
Centro-Metalcut Inc. Purchases Arter line from White-Sundstrand
Towards the end of Sundstrand owning the Arter grinding machines, Sundstrand itself went through some changes. While there is no internal documentation that we have available, Sundstrand ended up changing its name to White-Sundstrand before making the decision to sell the Arter line.
Two Centro-Metalcut, Inc. employees, Don Blachford and Frank Gyorkos, had a vision for Arter grinders when they heard that Sundstrand wanted to sell the product line.
In May 1980, with the help of Blachford and Gyorkos, Centro-Metalcut, Inc. (CMI) in Rockford, IL completed the purchase of the product line and assets from White-Sundstrand Machine Tool Company. Under CMI’s ownership, the Arter name returned and each grinder manufactured by Centro-Metalcut, Inc. bore the company’s name as well.
The Arter line under CMI maintained the success that the Sundstrand years started with the Model H, selling a large number of the models throughout the years that CMI owned the line while servicing older models as well.
Sundstrand played a big role in Arter’s history, and while some Sundstrand surface grinders do not bear the Arter name, they are, in fact, Arter Precision Surface Grinding Machines.
Obsidian Manufacturing Industries, Inc. is a Rockford, Ill. manufacturing company and is the OEM for Magna-Lock USA workholding, MagnaLift & Power-Grip lift magnets, and Arter Precision Grinding Machines as well providing surface grinding services. They are located at 5015 28th Ave. in Rockford, Ill. with a phone number of 815-962-8700. Check out more at obsidianmfg.com/brands.