Grinding Spiral Bevel Gears

Deep in the heart of Texas, there’s a company making high-quality spiral bevel gears by grinding them straight from a blank, and using a process known as closed-loop machining.

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Thomas Alaniva, vice president of the gear division at Rave Gears, has spent nearly three decades studying and improving the closed-loop manufacturing process for spiral bevel gears.

In a tiny town by the name of Seguin, Texas, about 35 miles east of San Antonio, you’ll find a gear manufacturing company without a single machine for cutting teeth. That’s because Rave Gears has embraced grinding technology to the extent that it’s grinding the spiral bevel gears it manufactures directly from a blank, taking it all the way to the finished product. I visited Seguin last spring to learn about how the relatively new company—founded in 2012—has come so far, so quickly, about its approach to grinding gears, and also about the “closed-loop” machining process. It was quite an experience, which you can read about in this article I wrote for Gear Production, the supplement to Modern Machine Shop.

What I found most interesting was the energy level inside the shop. It was so high it could be used to run a machine tool if they could find a way to harness it. Instead, they’re training it toward an intense desire to manufacture the highest-quality spiral bevel gearing to be found, and to manufacture it in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible. That’s really the whole goal behind the concept, which is also known as the “closed-loop digital topography process.” Stated simply, it involves returning measurement data to design software that automatically adjusts for deviances and sends revised code to the machine tool so that the end result matches the geometry of the intended goal. It can be applied to a wide variety or machining applications, so it’s a good thing to know about no matter what you’re producing in your own machine shop. Learn more by watching this video describing the company’s origins and dedication to continuous improvement.