EMAG subsidiary Eldec has developed new modular induction hardening systems designed to simplify the gear hardening process and increase flexibility in the overall production workflow. The company continues to refine its process, which introduces heat into the workpiece through induction. Only the areas to be hardened are heated.
"This is an initial crucial factor," emphasizes Stefan Rechtacek from technical sales at Eldec. "This allows the energy level to be precisely metered. The induction hardening process takes less than a second, depending on the component. Power consumption, of course, falls significantly as a result."
In comparison, case hardening furnaces are mostly heated around the clock (even when no components are in it), while induction hardening machines are only in use precisely when required. Even small batches can be quickly and flexibly hardened.
Ultimately, however, it comes down to the optimized configuration of the machine, the tools and their power source. For this reason, Eldec machine designers advise customers from the beginning, where the application area of the gear and the resulting level of hardness play an important role.
"In our test lab we initially check to see if induction hardening is fundamentally suitable for the desired component, what processes are required for the hardening and what unit costs the user can ultimately expect. This creates an ideal basis for making an informed decision," Rechtacek said.
The Eldec Modular Induction (MIND) system, with its key components consisting of the basic machine, power source, inductor, coolant system and automation, forms the centerpiece of the subsequent machine configuration. Each of these components is adapted to the required process. For example, micro-process-controlled high-frequency and medium-frequency generators, as well as simultaneous dual frequency (SDF), are available with eldec. While medium frequencies generally penetrate deeper into the gear and, in particular, heat the root, high frequencies heat the tooth tip. Subsequently, SDF employs two different frequencies simultaneously on the workpiece, heating to an even depth and temperature.
"This enables us to generate a uniform hardening profile with larger modules. With smaller gears up to module one, the use of just one frequency is generally sufficient," Rechtacek explains. "Both processes have their valid uses and the customer's machining requirements decide the configuration of the generator."
The same applies to configuring the machine, which is modularly constructed in different sizes in the MIND and MIND-M variations - depending on the workpiece dimension and required hardening profile. Interlinking with subsequent machining steps is also flexibly configured. As a result, the system can be delivered as a manually loaded standalone solution or as a robot-loaded, in-line hardening cell completely integrated into a soft- and hard-machining process chain. Precise solutions can be configured for every requirement and the requisite cycle times.
Many automotive geared elements, such as positioning gears, steering pinions, timing chain sprockets, ring gears for bevel gearboxes and steering racks, are fundamentally suited for induction hardening. Users benefit from a cost-efficient, precise and flexible process. It is also ideal for the globalized nature of car manufacturing, as the hardening process can be standardized across various locations with a consistent component quality ensured. As a consequence, the process security of parts production increases. "We offer a proven, efficient technology that can be integrated into every production environment. Thanks to this method, we also emerge on top in the market," Rechtacek says in conclusion.