Index recently developed a “bevel gear hobbing” package, which consists of a control cycle and four Index cutter heads with module-dependent inserts. Equipped with these features, the Index R200 and Index R300 turn-mill centers become gear cutting machines on which spiral bevel gears can be produced from bar stock, with front and rear end machining, complete in one setup or as a pure two-spindle gear cutting machine.
By hobbing using a continuous indexing method – which corresponds to the Klingelnberg Cyclo-Palloid method – spiral bevel gears can be produced with constant tooth height in a module range of 0.6 to 4 mm.
Compared to the conventional process chain with classic gear cutting machines, users can achieve shorter cycle times and better geometry and position tolerances. And it is designed to be more flexible.
“The starting point of the development by Index lies in its own manufacturing governed by the principle: quality-determining components are made in-house,” said Dr. Volker Sellmeier, Index-Werke’s head of technology development. “When the tool holder production was reorganized several years ago, the decision was made to produce the required bevel gears ourselves.”
Due to their static, dynamic and thermal properties, the turn-mill centers of the Index R-series are suited to gear-cutting, provided they are equipped with the “bevel gear hobbing” technology package. The R machines’ axis configuration with two milling spindles on Y-B-axes running in hydrostatic bearings makes it possible to machine on the main and counter spindle simultaneously in five axes.
The turn-mills’ ability to complete gear-part machining on the front and rear ends simultaneously is meant to shorten total cycle times and lower cost per piece.
“When we machine typical bevel gears with module 1.15 mm and approximately 25 teeth for our tool holders completely from bar stock, we achieve a cycle time of less than 3 minutes,” Sellmeier said. “The share of gear cutting amounts to about 30 seconds.”
In a classical gear process chain, the workpiece has to be set up on several individual machines for turning, drilling, and milling, gear cutting and deburring. Index's approach is to run all operations on the turn-mill center. Bevel gears are turned, drilled, milled and finally cut on a single machine. Even brushes for deburring can be set up. The soft machining process is thus completely autonomous, according to Index with a process-reliable gear quality of IT5. This is then followed by hardening. A final finishing process is usually required only for the mounting distance and the polygonal shaft/hub connection.
In addition to bar stock machining, which is best primarily for small quantities, for series production the R machine can be used as a pure gear cutting machine, working on the main and counter spindles simultaneously.
“This requires the use of an automated workpiece-loading and unloading system that loads the blanks and removes the finished parts gently,” Sellmeier said. “We offer a quadruple gripper with two stations on the main and counter spindle that picks up the finished parts, rotates and then loads new blanks. This way we use the machine as a kind of double-spindle machine, cutting the time per piece in half.”
Two cutter heads are required per bevel gear. They differ slightly in their cutting circle radius in order to produce the longitudinal crowning. Index offers the cutter heads in four different sizes that can be fitted with up to six carbide inserts and feature internal cooling.
In contrast to the typical Cyclo-Palloid method with an interlocking cutter head, the Index method uses two separate cutter heads per bevel gear.
“The two cutter heads provide a larger number of cutting edges. This allows us to achieve a higher cutting performance,” Sellmeier said. “We also have more freedom for flank modifications and correction of the contact pattern.”
Index also offers a control cycle they have developed. The user enters the same parameters as on a conventional gear cutting machine. These include, for example, machine distance, eccentricity and auxiliary angle. The cycle translates these values into the movements of each axis so that at the end the same relative movements are effected as on a conventional gear cutting machine.