Live from IMTS 2012
Randy Stott, Managing Editor
IMTS is well underway, and it's been a busy first two days. Gear Technology's staff has uncovered a number of gear manufacturing innovations we thought you'd be interested in. Here are some of the highlights of the show so far:
Sandvik and Mori Seiki partner to demo Invomilling
Booth S-8900. Invomilling is a new, patent-pending gear manufacturing method for manufacturing spur and helical gears using indexable insert cutters on standard multi-task or 5-axis machining centers.
Invomilling cutters from Sandvik Coromant.
Invomilling is a Sandvik process licensed exclusively for implementation on Mori Seiki machines. Through the easy-to-use Mori-AP software, the user selects the type of gear, enters gear print parameters (number of teeth, module (DP), pressure angle, face width, etc.), and enters modifications such as finishing stock, tip chamfer and tip relief. The software then generates the appropriate G-Code, which can be use on Mori Seiki machines. sandvik.coromant.com.
Star-SU shows Advanced Tool and Cutter Grinder
Booth N-6924. Engineered to manufacture complex cutting tools the new Star PTG-6L tool and cutter grinder is a five axis, CNC controlled cutter grinder for manufacturing, sharpening and reconditioning a wide variety of cutting tools. http://info.star-su.com/ptg-6l/
The Star PTG-6L Tool and Cutter Grinder.
Manufactured in the U.S.A. and equipped with a six-station wheel pack changer the PTG-6L is built for high productivity and precision. The PTG-6L features two linear motor drives, a traveling tool platform for CNC steady resting and workholding adjustment,
a high-volume loader and the latest enhancements in tool grinding software from NUMROTO.
The Gleason-Heller CT 8000.
Gleason and Heller Partner for Large Bevel Gear Production
Booth N-7000. 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.
If you can't make it to the show, here's a video of the machine in action.
At the booth, visitors can see a combination of efficient and productive gear and pinion cutting processes in the same setup.
The Worm Turns...
While some of the equipment used to make them is now "standard issue," the news is that worm gears are back in a big way. Not that they ever went away, of course, but the recent boom times in mining in the U.S.
has necessitated their use more than ever. The big breakthrough--the "F word," if you will--is hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as some call it. That's the process used to tap into and retrieve this continent's enormous reserves of natural gas, a much cleaner--and cheaper--source of energy than fossil fuel. Mutually benefitting from this development are Cleveland Gear and Gleason Cutting Tools Corp., the former a century-old producer of worm gearing, the latter a supplier of robust hobbers--from proven work horses to newest-technology iterations--that are indeed the proper "tool" for the proper job...
A Third Way for Gaging Solutions...
Renishaw Inc. is using IMTS to roll out its new Equator, designed to render moot whether custom gaging or a CMM are the only choices for precise process control. The company claims a "70 percent savings with significantly reduced fixture, installation and maintenence costs."
Other highlights include: highly repeatable; rapid parts swapping; fast form measurement; automation and feedback; and "plug-and-play"
High School Kids getting Trained--and Paid!...
A feel-good manufacturing education story is receiving due respect at IMTS. It concerns Eleva-Strum High School in Wisconsin and its technical training program for juniors and seniors. What makes this program truly unique is that its creator, Craig Cegielski, has transformed a learning experience into a business experience. As Cardinal Manufacturing, Cegielski and his charges are doing actual job shop-type work producing parts for paying customers. The upshot is that the students not only receive excellent training in machining and welding; they also learn of the demands of customer quality and delivery expectations. Income from the work is used in part to maintain the program, with enough left over to provide the student-workers with profit-sharing bonuses. Bonuses?!
Nexen Delivers Compact Harmonic Gearhead
The Nexen Harmonic Gearhead replaces larger, high ratio planetary gearheads utilizing the latest harmonic, strain wave gearing technology. In addition to its extremely short and compact size, the Harmonic Gearhead offers high torque capabilities, true zero backlash and precise positional accuracy. Its patent-pending design allows the gearing to be integrated into the same plane as the bearing resulting in a short and rigid gearhead.
The Harmonic Gearhead is available with the Nexen Roller Pinion System (RPS). The gearhead is integrated into the pinion without adding any length to the system resulting in a drive solution that maintains zero backlash from the driving motor shaft thru to the driven load for both linear and rotary motion. The combination also saving the time and expense it takes to integrate a gearbox into a motion system; the user can simply bolt and go. For more information visit Booth E-4326 or online at
SME Delivers Manufacturing Education Strategy During IMTS
During the first day of IMTS, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) introduced a national action plan calling for manufacturers, educators, professional organizations and the government to coordinate and standardize efforts aimed at reversing the skills gap crisis and preparing a skilled workforce for the high-tech manufacturing jobs of today and tomorrow. The Workforce Imperative: A Manufacturing Education Strategy calls on educators and industry to attract more students into manufacturing, articulate a standard core of manufacturing knowledge, improve the consistency and quality of manufacturing education, develop a faculty that delivers world class manufacturing education and strategically deploy resources to accomplish these goals. "We must attract young people to the rewarding opportunities to improve the world around them that exist in manufacturing and then provide them with the educational foundation necessary to succeed," says LaRoux K. Gillespie, SME 2012 president. Dr. Lazaro Lopez, principal at Wheeling High School, 20 miles northwest of Chicago, shared success stories during IMTS on students that entered the manufacturing workforce thanks to the education and training they received at Wheeling High School.
The Workforce Imperative is the latest of SME's contributions to help solve the skilled worker shortage. In addition to getting more STEM education to young students, SME is also looking at returning war veterans as well as adults returning to the workforce as areas where manufacturing training and education can help reignite the manufacturing industry in the United States. For more information on this initiative, visit
There's Lots More Info to Come
Stay tuned to the next issues of Gear Technology for even more in-depth follow up from the show.
Senior Editor Jack McGuinn and Associate Editor Matthew Jaster also contributed to this report.