I was going to reflect on how November 22, 1963 changed so many things, but decided it wasn’t an anniversary ending in a five or a zero and I would get thrown out of the “thinker of deep thoughts club” for violating the unwritten rules. Besides, the recent election has left many people a bit raw from its rough tone and threats of violence
Instead I would like to express my delight that this business continues to provide me with so many interesting problems and new things to learn. 2016 has been a busy year and I have enjoyed blogging here along with answering Ask the Expert questions and previewing articles that are published. It was great to tour the IMTS “gear pavilion” and see the wonderful equipment available to turn designs into the best possible gears.
A client request sent me deep into my files today. We sometimes forget that not everyone has access to the latest technology; many shops rely on machines older than me to produce parts that must compete with modern processes. While it is a testimony to the skills of those machine designers and builders that these machines are still working, I wonder who will be figuring out change gears and experimenting with feeds and speeds twenty years from now.
This same shop has a pair of 3-D printers, so they are far from Luddites. It comes down to finding appropriate technology for the quality of parts you need. As much as we would like to think 3-D printing could someday make high-capacity gears, at the present time fifty-year-old hobbers and shapers can make “better” fine-pitch gears. And the problems of making fine-pitch gears have not changed in a long time. Tooth accuracy, surface finish, load capacity, and deburring are challenging when you can hold twenty finished parts in one hand. Hence the deep dive in the archives for lessons learned from some of the very talented folks I am glad I met along the way.
Our industry has been populated may some very creative and generous teachers; if you have a moment this week why not thank those you see?