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Two major processes used for cutting gears, hobbing and shaping. This article describes advanced machine design and cutter materials for gear shaping.
The advent of CNC technology as applied to gear shaping machines has, in the last 10 years, led to an astonishing improvement in both productivity and quality. As is usual when developments such as this take place, the technology of the machine tool suddenly jumps ahead of that of the cutting tool, and the machine is then capable of producing faster than the cutting tool can withstand.
The Shaping Process - A Quick Review of the Working Principle. In the shaping process, cutter and workpiece represent a drive with parallel axes rotating in mesh (generating motion) according to the number of teeth in both cutter and workpiece (Fig. 1), while the cutter reciprocates for the metal removal action (cutting motion).
Today, as part of filling a typical gear hobbing or shaping machine order, engineers are required to perform an SPC acceptance test. This SPC test, while it is contractually necessary for machine acceptance, is not a machine acceptance test. It is a process capability test. It is an acceptance of the machine, cutting tool, workholding fixture, and workpiece as integrated on the cutting machine, using a gear measuring machine, with its work arbor and evaluation software, to measure the acceptance elements of the workpiece.
In today's economy, when purchasing a new state-of-the-art gear shaper means a significant capital investment, common sense alone dictates that you develop strategies to get the most for your money. One of the best ways to do this is to take advantage of the sophistication of the machine to make it more than just a single-purpose tool.
Gear shaping is one of the most popular production choices in gear manufacturing. While the gear shaping process is really the most versatile of all the gear manufacturing methods and can cut a wide variety of gears, certain types of gears can only be cut by this process. These are gears closely adjacent to shoulders; gears adjacent to other gears, such as on countershafts; internal gears, either open or blind ended; crown or face gears; herringbone gears of the solid configuration of with a small center groove; rack; parts with filled-in spaces or teeth, such as are used in some clutches.
The quality of the finished gear is influenced by the very first machining operations of the blank. Since the gear tooth geometry is generated on a continuously rotating blank in hobbing or shaping, it is important that the timed relationship between the cutter and workpiece is correct. If this relationship is disturbed by eccentricities of the blank to its operating centerline, the generated gear teeth will not be of the correct geometry. During the blanking operations, the gear's centerline and locating surfaces are established and must be maintained as the same through the following operations that generate the gear teeth.
Product announcements so often trumpet minor, incremental advances with works like "revolutionary" and "unique" that even the best thesaurus can fail to offer a fresh alternative to alert the reader when something really innovative and important is introduced. In the case of Mitsubishi's new CNC gear shaper, the ST25CNC, both terms apply.
A gear shaper cutter is actually a gear with relieved cutting edges and increased addendum for providing clearance in the root of the gear being cut. The maximum outside diameter of such a cutter is limited to the diameter at which the teeth become pointed. The minimum diameter occurs when the outside diameter of the cutter and the base circle are the same. Those theoretical extremes, coupled with the side clearance, which is normally 2 degrees for coarse pitch cutters an d1.5 degrees for cutters approximately 24-pitch and finer, will determine the theoretical face width of a cutter.
Fred Young, CEO of Forest City Gear, talks about sophisticated gear manufacturing methods and how they can help solve common gear-related problems.
In the process of developing gear trains, it occasionally occurs that the tip of one gear will drag in the fillet of the mating gear. The first reaction may be to assume that the outside diameter of the gear is too large. This article is intended to show that although the gear dimensions follow AGMA guidelines, if the gear is cut with a shaper, the cutting process may not provide sufficient relief in the fillet area and be the cause of the interference.
Cutter Sharpening Cutter sharpening is very important both during manufacturing and subsequently in resharpening after dulling. Not only does this process affect cutter "over cutting edge" quality and the quality of the part cut, but it can also affect the manner in which chip flow takes place on the cutter face if the surface finished is too rough or rippled.
It has previously been demonstrated that one gear of an interchangeable series will rotate with another gear of the same series with proper tooth action. It is, therefore, evident that a tooth curve driven in unison with a mating blank, will "generate" in the latter the proper tooth curve to mesh with itself.
The forming of gear teeth has traditionally been a time-consuming heavy stock removal operation in which close tooth size, shape, runout and spacing accuracy are required. This is true whether the teeth are finished by a second forming operation or a shaving operation.
Our experts discuss runout and helix accuracy, as well as the maximum number of teeth in a shaper cutter.
Computer programs have been developed to completely design spur and helical gear shaper cutters starting from the specifications of the gear to be cut and the type of gear shaper to be used. The programs generate the working drawing of the cutter and, through the use of a precision plotter, generate enlarge scaled layouts of the gear as produced by the cutter and any other layouts needed for its manufacture.
Increased productivity in roughing operations for gear cutting depends mainly on lower production costs in the hobbing process. In addition, certain gears can be manufactured by shaping, which also needs to be taken into account in the search for a more cost-effective form of production.
Up until approximately 1968-69, pinion cutter-type gear shaping machines had changed very little since their conception in the early 1900's.
The manufacturing process to produce a gear essentially consist of: material selection, blank preshaping, tooth shaping, heat treatment, and final shaping. Only by carefully integrating of the various operations into a complete manufacturing system can an optimum gear be obtained. The final application of the gear will determine what strength characteristics will be required which subsequently determine the material and heat treatments.
Economic production is one of the main concerns of any manufacturing facility. In recent years, cost increases and tougher statutory requirements have increasingly made cutting fluids a problematic manufacturing and cost factor in metalworking. Depending on the cutting fluid, production process and supply unit, cutting-fluid costs may account for up to 16% of workpiece cost. In some cases, they exceed tool cost by many times (Ref. 1). The response by manufacturers is to demand techniques for dry machining (Ref. 2).
McCormick Place, Chicago. A manufacturer's dream. Acres and acres of machine tools up and running - cutting chips, filling molds, moving material, bending, shaping, smoothing, measuring. Computers, robots and lasers everywhere - George Lucas goes to engineering school. Sounds, light and, most important, over 100,000 people, moving around, taking notes, asking questions and, above all, buying. This was IMTS '94. A heady, if tiring, experience.
The capabilities and limitations of manufacturing gears by conventional means are well-known and thoroughly documented. In the search to enhance or otherwise improve the gear-making process, manufacturing methods have extended beyond chip-cutting - hobbing, broaching, shaping, shaving, grinding, etc. and their inherent limitations based on cutting selection and speed, feed rates, chip thickness per tooth, cutting pressure, cutter deflection, chatter, surface finish, material hardness, machine rigidity, tooling, setup and other items.
Grinding is a technique of finish-machining, utilizing an abrasive wheel. The rotating abrasive wheel, which id generally of special shape or form, when made to bear against a cylindrical shaped workpiece, under a set of specific geometrical relationships, will produce a precision spur or helical gear. In most instances the workpiece will already have gear teeth cut on it by a primary process, such as hobbing or shaping. There are essentially two techniques for grinding gears: form and generation. The basic principles of these techniques, with their advantages and disadvantages, are presented in this section.
Question: When evaluating charts from a gear inspection machine, it is sometimes found that the full length of the profile traces vary, and that sometimes they are less than the length of active profile (above start of active profile-SAP) by up to 20%. This condition could be caused by a concentricity error between tooth grinding and shaping, or by unequal stock removal when grinding. (See Fig. 1.) Is it possible that some of the variation is coming from the inspection machine? How can variation from the inspection machine be reduced?
Imagine the $10 bill with the face of Edwin R. Fellows on it and on the back, a picture of his invention: the gear shaping machine. Or the $5 bill with George B. Grant and a picture of the first hobbing machine, which he built.
After shaping or hobbing, the tooth flanks must be either chamfered or duburred. Here it is paramount that the secondary burr produced will not be formed into the flank, but to the face of the gear, because during hardening, the secondary burr will straighten up and, due to its extreme hardness, will lead to excessive tool wear.
There are several methods available for improving the quality of spur and helical gears following the standard roughing operations of hobbing or shaping. Rotary gear shaving and roll-finishing are done in the green or soft state prior to heat treating.
News Items About shaping
1 Gleason Debuts Opti-Cut Tools for Gashing, Shaping and Hobbing (November 9, 2007)
A new family of cutting tools was recently introduced by the Gleason Corporation for the gashing, shaping and hobbing of gears. This new ... Read News