February 16, 2024
My last post discussed reviewing the ratings and designs of “legacy products,” those venerable parts and gearboxes still being ordered twenty, thirty, or even fifty years after they were first designed. As noted, many things have changed over time and those old designs may now deserve higher ratings and a different pricing structure. Legacy products frequently suffer from old manufacturing methods. Patterns, fixtures, and other tooling may have been designed for machine tools no longer in the shop. Individual parts may have details no longer used. Material and heat treat specifications may not be the best for current conditions. Production quantities alone may dictate a change in methodology; minimum casting quantities might suggest a shift to fabrications. Improved CNC machining times often give “billet” blanks a lower overall cost than a casting or forging. Opinions on webbed versus solid gear blanks have changed too. And what about the machine tools themselves? Are you taking up valuable floor space keeping an old machine available for a part only made every few years? Could it be made on an alternate machine or sub-contracted at a lower overall cost? Can processes be combined on newer machines? Our advertisers offer a range of tools for cutting splines and gear teeth in multi-axis lathes. This technology doesn’t care how old the part drawing is. The upcoming Gear Expo in Detroit is a great opportunity for you to review your legacy parts with exhibitors. They will have their latest tooling on display with technical experts on hand to explain their use. While you are in Detroit, make sure to stop by the Gear Technology booth and talk to our technical editors. We’ll be offering live “Ask the Expert” services through out the show with some of the most experienced consulting engineers in the industry. Details are in our current issue of the magazine, both in print and on line.