McCormick Place, Chicago. A manufacturer's dream. Acres and acres of machine tools up and running - cutting chips, filling molds, moving material, bending, shaping, smoothing, measuring. Computers, robots and lasers everywhere - George Lucas goes to engineering school. Sounds, light and, most important, over 100,000 people, moving around, taking notes, asking questions and, above all, buying. This was IMTS '94. A heady, if tiring, experience.
Robots, computers and other signs of high technology abounded at IMTS 94, supporting the claim by many that this was one of the best shows ever. Many of the machines on display had so many robotic attachments and computer gizmos that they looked more like they belonged in some science fiction movie than on the floor of a machine shop.
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.
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.
This section will deal with the use of gear inspection for diagnostic purposes rather than quality determination. The proper evaluation of various characteristics in the data can be useful for the solution of quality problems. It is important to sort out whether the problem is coming from the machine, tooling and/or cutters, blanks, etc. An article by Robert Moderow in the May/June 1985 issue of Gear Technology is very useful for this purpose.
The two reports referred to in this article, "The people wise Organization" and "House Divided: Views on Change from Top Management - and Their Employees," crossed our desks some weeks ago. They stimulated a fair amount of discussion here, and we hope they do the same in your offices. We welcome your responses. How do you view the corporate/competitive environment of the next few years? How do you see yourself and your company fitting in? Can these ideas work in the gear industry? Let us now what you think.