In a niche market like gear manufacturing, the advantage goes to the company that seizes each opportunity when it comes to new technology. The partnership between Gleason Corp. and Heller Maschinenfabrik GmbH, for example, has taken the strengths of both companies to create a machine and process that are both flexible and productive, and accommodate the manufacture of all type of bevel gears. Meanwhile, Star SU and MAG have joined forces on gear cutting technology that offers innovative and reliable gear manufacturing solutions. With a focus on productivity at IMTS 2012, these companies prove that the right collaboration can lead to future manufacturing success.
Gleason and Heller
With the CT8000, manufacturers can quickly and easily accommodate new part series, design variations and corrections, while producing gears at production rates that make single-setup machining in small and medium batches attractive economically. In addition, the new Gleason/Heller alliance enables manufacturers to simultaneously benefit from Heller’s five-axis machining solutions and Gleason’s design and process expertise and software.
“Gleason’s gear process knowledge and software modules CAGE, GAGE and FEA provide benefits to the producers of large gears that were previously unavailable,” says Al Finegan, director of marketing at Gleason. “These include improved cutter design and development, interference modeling, consolidation of cutter designs to minimize investment, improvements in pinion development, and improved part quality through enhanced part grid modeling, including root areas of the tooth.”
IMTS attendees who stop by Gleason’s Booth N-7000 will see a combination of efficient and productive gear and pinion cutting processes in the same setup.
“In the fairly immediate future, five-axis machines from Gleason/Heller will feature some advanced capabilities like Gleason closed-loop gear manufacturing, which has long been used for smaller gears that will now be available for the full manufacturing range,” Finegan adds. “And the plans include a larger gear capacity, up to 3 meters in gear diameter.”
For large gear manufacturing beyond perhaps 800 mm or so, Finegan says that multifunctional machining is very attractive to gear producers. “Volumes tend to be low, and many gear jobbers cannot afford to invest in dedicated gear cutting equipment,” he says. “Part handling is slow and expensive, so multifunctional machines can save time and money.”
Star SU and MAG
Star SU offers a variety of machine tools, precision cutting tools and services, including work with the Star Cutter Co., Samputensili, S.p.A., Sicmat S.p.A. and Bourn & Koch Inc. The company has been the representative of MAG Modul gear cutting machines in North America for the last 15 years, says Mark Ritchie, Star SU vice president, sales and engineering.
Visitors to Booth N-6924 will see the Star SU/MAG partnership firsthand with MAG’s H 400 CNC, which uses standard hob or form milling technology, ranging from dry or wet machining with high capacity HSS or carbide tools to skive hobbing of heat-treated gears. The H 400 hobber includes: motorized hob head, direct-drive table speed range of 400 rpm, maximum hob diameter of 175 mm, six CNC axes, Siemens control, aligning probe and MAG Moduldialogue software (metric or inches). It is available with different modular option packages, including specific geared or direct-drive hob heads, as well as table drive packages that respond to the user’s specific task.
The machine on display at IMTS offers a high-performance torque hob head and the appropriate direct drive worktable for demanding cutting tasks up to a gear diameter of 15.75 inches (400 mm) and NDP 3.175 (8 module).
The H 400 also can be upgraded with new CDT technology that enables integrated chamfering/deburring of the workpiece after gear hobbing on the same work spindle.
Ritchie believes that the general trend of integrating more functionality into one single machine continues to be one of the main drivers, especially in industrial sectors. Nevertheless, certain physical limits of machining gears with end mills have been reached.
“The traditional profile generation process being still the most productive solution today continues to compete well with universal machining centers,” he says. “Traditional gear manufacturers are now fighting back. For example, MAG Modul integrates more pre- and post functionalities to the gear hobbing and milling process. At the same time, our sister companies at MAG are working on gear cutting functionalities on its universal machining centers. So there is space for both—the productive gear hobbing process and the flexible machining with end mills.”