Every now and then a magazine has to take its own pulse or lose sight of its key mission - providing its readers with information they want. We did it this last year through surveys, interviews with subscribers and focus groups. Our basic question was, how are we doing?
The heat treating of gears presents a difficult challenge to both the heat treater and the gear manufacturer. The number and variety of variables involved in the manufacturing process itself and the subsequent heat treating cycle create a complex matrix of factors which need to be controlled in order to produce a quality product. A heat treater specializing in gears or a gear manufacturer doing his own heat treating must have a clear understanding of these issues in order to deliver a quality product and make a profit at the same time. The situation also presents a number of areas that could benefit greatly from continued research and development.
Graded hardening technology has proven over the years to yield very good results when used in the heat treating of carburized gears. It is especially advantageous for smaller companies, subject to higher competitive pressures. Unfortunately, despite the fact that graded hardening is a very well-known method, its use has been limited. We strongly recommend this technology to all of those who need to produce gears with high metallurgical quality.
Several trends in mechanical engineering are leading to greater surface stress on components and thus to unacceptable wear. These trends include greater stresses due to increased power densities; the need to maintain high precision of components throughout their service life; and the environmental imperative to reduce use of lubricants and additives.
Gears are designed to be manufactured, processed and used without failure throughout the design life of the gear. One of INFAC's objectives (*see p.24) is to help manufacture of gears to optimize performance and life. One way to achieve this is to identify failure mechanisms and then devise strategies to overcome them by modifying the manufacturing parameters.