I was reading about "Gravity Probe B" yesterday. So I was wondering today how we arrived at the point of having such accurate machinery when we used to not. My limited knowledge of machining implies that the precision of a part is limited by the precision of the machine making it, but I'm sure there are ways to get beyond that. I asked my teacher about high-precision bearings and he suggested centerless grinding as a possible way. Can a centerless grinder be used (even if tedious) to manufacture bearings more precise than those already in the grinder? Granted, it's a theoretical question--I have no plans to make any bearings that way. Or just in general, what are some of the straightforward methods of making accurate parts on less accurate machines? For that matter, how did they scale upwards to build lathes and such many yards long?
19 years ago