Several innovations have been introduced to the gear manufacturing industry in recent years. In the case of gear hobbing—the dry cutting technology and the ability to do it with powder-metallurgical HSS—might be two of the most impressive ones. And the technology is still moving forward. The aim of this article is to present recent developments in the field of gear hobbing in conjunction with the latest improvements regarding tool materials, process technology
and process integration.
Recent trends in gear cutting technology have left process engineers searching for direction about which combination of cutting tool material, coating, and process technology will afford the best quality at the lowest total cost. Applying the new technologies can have associated risks that may override the potential cost savings. The many interrelated variables to be considered and evaluated tend to cloud the issue and make hobbing process development more difficult.
It takes confidence to be the first to invest in new manufacturing technology. But the payback can be significant. That has been the experience at the Ford Motor Company's Transmission & Chassis Division plant at Indianapolis, IN, which boasts the world's first production application of dry hobbing.
The cutting tool is basic to gear manufacturing. Whether it's a hob, broach, shaper cutter or EDM wire, not much gets done without it. And the mission of the tool remains the same as always; removing material as quickly, accurately and cost-effectively as possible. Progress in the field tends to be evolutionary, coming gradually over time, but recently, a confluence of emerging technologies and new customer demands has caused significant changes in the machines, the materials and the coatings that make cutting tools.
Chicago- Results of recent studies on residual stress in gear hobbing, hobbing without lubricants and heat treating were reported by representatives of INFAC (Instrumented Factory for Gears) at an industry briefing in March of this year.
The first part of this article, which ran in the September/October 1994 issue, explained the fundamentals of gear hobbing and some of the latest techniques, including methods of hob performance analysis and new tool configurations, being used to solve specific application problems. In this issue, the author continues his exploration of hobbing by describing the effects of progress on requirements in accuracy, as well as the latest in materials, coating and dry hobbing.
For environmental and economic reasons, the use of coolant in machining processes is increasingly being questioned. Rising coolant prices and disposal costs, as well as strains on workers and the environment, have fueled the debate. The use of coolant has given rise to a highly technical system for handling coolant in the machine (cooling, filtering) and protecting the environment (filter, oil-mist collector). In this area the latest cutting materials - used with or without coolant - have great potential for making the metal-removal process more economical. The natural progression to completely dry machining has decisive advantages for hobbing.
Prior to the introduction of titanium nitride to the cutting tool industry in the early 1980s, there was very little progress in the general application of hobbing in the gear cutting industry. The productivity gains realized with this new type of coating initiated a very active time of advancement in the gear manufacturing process.