Sometimes you have an idea that is way ahead of its time, but there can be benefits to your new “baby” that catch the eye of a user, even if you fail to recognize them.
One of the best parts of my job is the many opportunities that I have to meet and talk to very interesting, dedicated individuals. When first introduced to Mr. Oleg Tabachenko I immediately knew that I was in for a rare experience. As a young engineer in the former Soviet Union, his area of expertise was flexible manufacturing systems. “This was honorable work,” says the soft-spoken Mr. Tabachenko,” but the chucking part of the system was small potatoes.” When he came to the United States in 1991, Mr. Tabachenko brought with him a dream of turning that “small potato” into a formidable force. Today, that vision is the Goss Hi-Speed chuck. It was a long time in the making, but our industry now recognizes that Mr. Tabachenko has forever upgraded the chuck’s place in the manufacturing system.
Says Mr. Tabachenko, “In the last 50 years, machine tools have progressed dramatically.” He compares their progress with that of the airplane, which has gone from the Wright Brother’s fragile first flight to today’s space shuttle. “But all that time, workholding was still using the same old principles, materials and ideas. They kept trying to balance the jaws, which, like the petals of a flower, push out with centrifugal force at increased speeds. Their answer was to keep trying to push them in. My idea was not to fight centrifugal force, but to use it. It was such a simple concept, I couldn’t believe that no one had come up with it before.” It was evident that Mr. Tabachenko knew what he was talking about. With a master’s from the Polytechnic University in Odessa (the one in Europe, not in my home state of Texas), Mr. Tabachenko already held 21 patents in the field of metalcutting machine tools while he was still in the Soviet Union.
Rich Hippner, President of Goss & DeLeeuw Machine Company in Kensington, Connecticut, was understandably impressed with Mr. Tabachenko. His company had filed it’s first chuck patent 75 years ago, so for Hippner, it was a natural progression to provide Mr. Tabachenko with the financial backing and the emotional support to make his dream a reality. “My idea was to put the same weight on both sides of the rotational axis. In this case, they will fight with each other and cancel each other out. It was a very interesting technical problem,” explains Mr. Tabachenko. The rough prototype was built in a garage belonging to the Director of Operations, Fern Boisse, and in Mr. Hippner’s basement. From there it went to the testing labs, “where, surprisingly, it worked,” says Mr. Tabachenko. At that point, the team built a real prototype, and it surpassed all their expectations. “This chuck is balanced internally and externally, and we can balance the top jaws when we change them,” explains Mr. Boisse. Today, the Goss Hi-Speed chuck comes in 4-, 5-, 6-, 8- and 10-inch models that incorporate either air or hydraulic features.
Nineteen months after that first rough prototype, the chuck was introduced at IMTS ’98. Easily recognizable for its ripples and brightly colored exterior, it turns at speeds up to 10,000 rpm with no loss of gripping force. It also features quick-change jaws and a sealed body that has proven to be the feature to gain the most initial interest. Even if you don’t have a 10,000-rpm lathe, this chuck allows the use of an existing turning center to its full capacity. “Fifty years ago, the cost of machining was not so high, but today, many modern machines start at $100,000,” says Mr. Hippner. “Our chuck will increase the productivity of these high-cost machines significantly. High speed, high productivity—those are the buzz words of the future.”