MMS Blog

Case Study: In-House Gear Production Leads to Improved Quality, Speed

Subcontracting work has its benefits. Mainly, companies can take on jobs even though their shops may not be properly equipped for every step of the production process. However, sometimes subcontracting work can cause more challenges than it is worth.

For instance, James Faulkerson’s company, Advanced Design Technologies LLC of Las Vegas, Nevada, initially manufactured all components for a power-splitting marine transmission called the W-Drive, except for the gears. These, he subcontracted until the late 1990s, when a faulty gear disintegrated and blew a large hole in the bottom of a boat traveling at close to 200 mph.

In June, I joined journalists from 25 countries to preview EMO 2017, the world’s largest metalworking show, which returns to Hanover, Germany, September 18-23. The preview event included presentations from 35 exhibiting companies describing some of the new technology that must not be missed. Plus, looking back at the last EMO held in Hanover four years ago, it becomes clear that the past four years have brought significant changes to the metalworking industry.

The principal focus of EMO 2013 and its theme “Intelligence in Production” was to improve machinery concepts, control technology, and software, tools and processes. With a continuous stream of innovation in these fields, the functionality of intelligent production systems has been upgraded since 2013. Customer requirements, such as changing batch sizes, an infinite number of different product variants, new materials, requirements for sustainability in production operations, and more, constituted additional drivers for innovation. To handle these complex jobs, the demand for communication capabilities has been rising. “Intelligence in Production” accordingly ensured that modern-day production systems were being integrated into a company’s entire IT world.

The slideshow above, based on our July print issue’s Modern Equipment Review Spotlight, features turning machines, including high-production lathes, turn-mills and even training lathes.

Click through the slideshow for details, and follow the links for more information on each product.

Five-axis machining has become one of the most important technologies in metalworking today. The reason is not because the technology is new (which, of course, it isn’t), but because it has gone mainstream. What used to be a niche capability for milling intricate contours is now a valuable automation tool in many shops, enabling not only those intricate forms, but also machining at many angles in one cycle to minimize the number of setups needed. However, the increased use of five-axis machining in general production means shops increasingly have to evaluate other components of their processes, such as workholding, with this capability in mind.

John Zaya, workholding product manager for Big Kaiser Precision Tooling, says that depending on the part, the right choice of workholding might be the key to realizing five-axis machining’s full promise for automated production. One of the options he often discusses in this context is the company’s “Unilock” system, which provides for repeatable, quick-change workholding using a receiver that clamps on a precision knob. Developed and long used for setup-time reduction, the system is now finding applications in five-axis machining not primarily because of the quick-change clamping, but instead because it offers a secure way to clamp the part entirely from underneath.

Threading Options for Hard Materials

Shops have options when it comes to hard threading. However, Seco Tools says most of them involve multiple operations and tools, each of which presents the risk of human error, a possible increase in cycle times and a probable hindrance of part consistency.

Here, the company highlights three such tooling options, along with their limitations:

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