Production demands continue to rise with the burgeoning electrification movement. The desire for high-precision gears and low-cost manufacturing requires versatile and affordable high-efficiency processing to serve the needs of a variety of industries. Gathered here are a few recent hobbing solutions from Affolter Group, Helios Gear Products, and Nidec Machine Tool Corporation.
Affolter AF72 Linear Loader on AF160 CNC Gear Hobbing Machine
Affolter Group has introduced the AF160, which is their most versatile gear hobbing machine to date. “The AF160 is designed for high precision manufacturers that need versatility and maximum efficiency,” explains Vincent Affolter, managing director of Affolter Group. “With eight axes, a state-of-the-art digital CNC control, a variety of automation solutions, and a maximum module of 2 mm, it is ideal for manufacturers in industries such as automotive, aerospace, aircraft, gearbox, medical or robotics.”
The AF160 can process parts with an outside diameter of up to 60 mm and a length of 250 mm. The machining crews, worm wheels, cylkro gears, and internal gears. Gear skiving, the milling of worms and shafts, and chamfering are possible, too. Affolter continued, “The AF160 enables manufacturers to produce an impressive variety of high precision gears, worm screws, and worm wheels on the same, compact machine.” The footprint of the machine is only 4m². Including the loader AF72, which is a little more than 6m².” A new video shows the system in operation:
Depending on the application and production processes, manufacturers need automation solutions to facilitate an autonomous operation for 12 to 24 hours. Affolter provides a range of such automation solutions: The universal multi-axes part loading and unloading system AF72 was specially designed for the AF160. It features a double gripper system for parallel loading and unloading and offers different methods of feeding based on the volume, product, and application. The AF160 can also be equipped with the deburring unit AF54, integrating the deburring process into the gear production. Different clamping systems provide for added versatility. Customizable coolant systems and chip extraction conveyors are available as well.
The engineers of Affolter Group cooperated with Beckhoff Automation to launch the brand-new CNC Control Pegasus. The high processing power ensures extremely fast regulation. “It controls all machine axes as well as a multitude of peripherals for various options and automations,” said Affolter. Programming is simple, intuitive, and user-friendly with a 19-inch touchscreen. The new CNC Control integrates IoT. Data can be shared on the cloud, streamlining after-sales service and preventive maintenance, and therefore, minimizing downtimes. Software updates can be done remotely.
“We think of it as a solution, not a machine—a solution that meets the needs of our customers. Thanks to the new CNC Control, various automation systems and peripherals, and the versatility of the AF160, we can offer maximum productivity for high-precision manufacturers in a very broad range of applications,” Affolter added.
Helios HERA 90-W Offers Horizontal Hobbing of Long Shaft Parts
Helios Gear Products (formerly Koepfer America) now exclusively offers the Helios Hera 90 CNC gear hobbing machine from YG Tech for the North American market. This gear cutting solution provides high technology features such as FANUC 0i-MF control and servo motors, direct drive hob and work spindles, Heidenhain linear scale on X-axis for precise repeatable control of size, and more. Gear manufacturers will appreciate this hobbing machine for its unique combination of technical capabilities, market-beating price, and proven domestic support.
“The Hera 90 is the first of the Hera series to meet the demanding needs of our customers, and this includes not only a globally competitive price point but also a complete hobbing solution backed by industry experts for technical support," said Adam Gimpert, president of Helios Gear Products.
The Hera 90 offers key features, such as 8.5 DP (3 mn) pitch rating, 6,000 rpm maximum hob speed, and up to 8 CNC axes. When equipped with the optional gantry loading and unloading system, the Hera 90 capably and productively hobs a variety of gear types. Workpieces up to 12.600” (320 mm) length can be manually loaded or 7.874” (200 mm) length automatically loaded. Centerline distance between the cutter and work spindles moves between 0.394” (10 mm) and 3.937” (100 mm), providing the capacity for a wide range of gear sizes. With 6.300” (160 mm) hob shift, job shops, and end-product gear manufacturers alike must consider this machine’s productive mix of flexibility and capability in a small footprint.
Several standard capabilities are available via the Hera 90’s dialogue programming: one and multiple gears on a single workpiece, multiple-cut cycles, any combination of radial, axial, climb, or conventional hobbing, crowning (lead modification), automatic shifting over a broken hob section, CNC hob shifting, and burr-free hobbing using two equal hobs. Straight bevel gears can also be cut by index milling or generating cutting via the Conikron method.
“In today’s globally competitive market, gear manufacturers need a cost-effective, highly capable, yet versatile hobbing solution for fine-pitch gearing. The Helios Hera 90 fills this role like nothing else on that market,” said David Harroun, vice president of Helios Gear Products.
Construction features of the Hera 90 prove strong fundamentals of engineering and design. The machine uses direct-drive torque motors. A cast iron machine base provides optimum stability and dampening of cutting forces. The machine’s slant bed design uses gravity to efficiently remove chips during the cutting process. Automatic X-axis (radial hob head position) retract at power failure ensures the safety of tooling during electrical loss. Total machine enclosure includes world-standard safety equipment such as electro-mechanical interlock and front splashguard doors.
“Manufacturers have found the Helios Hera 90 CNC hobbing machine to be an extremely cost-effective, high-quality platform for 21st-century gear production,” said Harroun. Evolving the Hera 90’s range of options, Helios has also introduced the 90‑W configuration. This offers gear manufacturers an extended machine bed and axial travel, making the machine an ideal solution for long-shaft, small diameter workpieces. Manufacturers of powertrain shafts for small- to medium-vehicles will be interested in this machine, especially those workpieces with multiple, timed splines and/or gears.
The Hera series has been in development for over 15 years, and it continues to address the demanding hobbing needs of North American manufacturers. With Helios' domestic support, the Hera 90‑W adds a valuable offering to the machine line by equipping manufacturers with a high-quality, low-cost, quick-delivery, domestically supported solution for long-shaft horizontal hobbing. The Helios Hera 90‑W is rated at 3 module (8.5 DP) for parts up to 90 mm (3.54 in) diameter. The 90‑W can be configured to optionally load parts up to 600 mm (23.62 in), 700 mm (27.56 in), or greater lengths.
Furthermore, the machine’s axial travel (hobbing length) covers nearly the maximum loadable part length. This enables easy hobbing of long shaft parts with gears on opposite ends — especially when the gears must maintain a timed relationship. For shorter workpieces, the machine’s versatile tailstock design clamps workpieces as close as 200 mm (7.68 in) measured from the work spindle face. Standard features of the Helios Hera 90 are included with the 90‑W. “Gear manufacturers looking for a truly versatile, future-proof hobbing machine must consider the Helios Hera 90‑W,” said Gimpert.
Nidec Machine Tool Offers Variety of CNC-Controlled Hobbing Machines
Nidec Machine Tool Corporation recently launched the GE15HS and GE25HS models of hobbing machines. Emphasizing high speed, precision, and efficiency, the machines produce gears for electric and hybrid cars amid the global trend toward reducing the carbon footprint.
The GE15HS model is for gears with a maximum diameter of 150 mm, widely used in automobiles and motorcycles. The high-speed, high-torque direct-drive motor for the main cutting spindle provides a maximum spindle speed of 6,000 min—three times faster than previous models. The high-efficiency spindle holding the workpiece uses a special table that provides high rigidity and high-speed rotation to handle the necessary thrust load for high-efficiency machining. The GE15HS provides process efficiency, eliminating the finishing process of shaving before heat treatment, improving productivity, and reducing processing costs.
The GE25HS is for larger gears up to 250 mm in diameter, such as automobile differential gears. With its high-efficiency processing, this model utilizes a high-speed, high-power spindle eliminating the effects of temperatures variation during production. The high rigidity table has the backlash eliminator incorporated as standard equipment. In addition, the motor torque and maximum spindle rotation speed of the main spindle have been increased 1.5 times from previous models, providing a 42% reduction in processing time.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: