Two Problems, Two Machines, Two Solutions

Delta 1: Eric Light (left) and Christopher Riehl (right) work on Mitsubishi machines at Delta Gear in metro Detroit.


Delta’s Investment in New Mitsubishi Equipment Adds Capacity, Reduces Cycle Time

Dwight Smith, Vice President, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc.

With multiple plants in the suburban Detroit area, Delta Research can leverage equipment and capacity across its family of companies. Delta Research specializes in precision prototype transmissions, shaft and assemblies, precision machining, precision gears, hybrid prototype powertrains, short run production and hybrid fully electric boutique builds.

Nearby, Delta Gear is a fully qualified aerospace gear and shaft manufacturer. It began with the 2004 purchase of Tifco Gage and Gear. Tifco, formerly a supplier to Delta Research, was moved to a larger location and became the nucleus around which Delta Gear was formed. Continued growth and expansion fueled a move to an even larger facility in 2011 which was totally redesigned to house the growing company.

Delta Gear now produces high precision jet engine pump gears and a wide range of aerospace and industrial gearbox components. When they needed additional capacity to fulfill an aerospace requirement, they turned to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America.

Delta 1: Eric Light (left) and Christopher Riehl (right) work on Mitsubishi machines at Delta Gear in metro Detroit.
Eric Light (left) and Christopher Riehl (right) work on Mitsubishi machines at Delta Gear in metro Detroit.

Troubleshooting the Shaper

Delta had initially processed a relatively coarse pitch helical internal gear shaping job on an existing machine. This required an additional mechanical device to allow the machine to achieve the helix needed. The result was a longer than expected cycle time and additional processing complexity making it difficult to run at the needed production rate.

The answer was to install a new Mitsubishi ST40A electronic guide shaping machine. The machine was in stock and was on the floor in very short order. The part in question was transferred to the new machine without the need for complex additional tooling. The resulting cycle time improvement allowed Delta to meet the customer delivery requirements.

The actual installation was simpler than expected. Scott Sakuta, vice president and general manager of Delta Gear said, “It was so easy. The Mitsubishi techs set it down, plugged it in, added oil, and it was ready to run.” This was consistent with previous installations of the other Mitsubishi machines in the Delta plants. This new ST40A shaper joins a ST40CNC that was already in production at Delta. In addition, Delta Research has a GE15A hobber installed in a high volume production line.

An unexpected benefit resulted from the implementation of this new machine. According to Sakuta, the new machine was significantly faster, which provided capacity for other jobs. The electronic guide allows the shaping of nearly any helix angle, and the machine can create helix crowing and taper as needed.

Adding additional value is a special “guardless” robot integrated to load and unload the machine. No cage is needed to isolate the robot due to the sensors that prevent contact. The machine runs “lights out” and further reduces the cost of production. The speed and flexibility of the new ST40A opened a door to new opportunities.

(left to right) Eric Light, Scott Sakuta and Christopher Riehl work on the shop floor at Delta Gear.


New Hobber Equals New Opportunities

In the production of helical aerospace parts, Delta Gear had an immediate need for hobbing capacity. Days after receiving the order, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America – Machine Tool Division delivered a GD50 hobbing machine from stock. This solved the immediate portion of the need. It was also installed quickly, making chips the second day it was on the floor of the plant.

The machine has exceeded Sakuta’s expectations. It exhibits great mechanical rigidity, allowing Delta to exploit the power of the machine to achieve maximum material removal rates. The machine has been operating for a year and has experienced zero downtime and not needed any service support or repairs. The small footprint has been appreciated in the Delta Gear shop, which allows them to arrange the floor plan to maximize efficiency.

As with the new ST40A shaper, the GD50 hobber was purchased for a specific production program. Due to the machine’s flexibility and utility, it can produce parts for other programs as well, adding greatly to its value.

Sakuta summed it up thusly, “We have grown our business by finding the best people and providing the tools they need to be productive. The Mitsubishi shapers and hobbers have proven to be excellent tools.”

For more information:

Delta Gear, Inc.

Phone: (734) 525-8000


Mitsubishi Heavy Industries America, Inc.

Machine Tool Division

Phone: (248) 668-4152




About Charles D. Schultz 678 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.