Earlier this year, a relative of mine, Sidney Mandell, tragically passed away. I had the good fortune to serve with Sidney on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of the Machinery Dealers National Association (MDNA). Though he started before me, his MDNA career and mine overlapped for about 2 years. As I think back on the many things I learned form him, one of his favorite phrases keeps come to mind: "We walk in the footsteps of those who have gone before us."
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.
The capabilities and limitations of manufacturing gears by conventional means are well-known and thoroughly documented. In the search to enhance or otherwise improve the gear-making process, manufacturing methods have extended beyond chip-cutting - hobbing, broaching, shaping, shaving, grinding, etc. and their inherent limitations based on cutting selection and speed, feed rates, chip thickness per tooth, cutting pressure, cutter deflection, chatter, surface finish, material hardness, machine rigidity, tooling, setup and other items.
Bevel gears have been the standard for several decades in situations where power transmission has to occur between shafts mounted at a given angle. Now a new approach has been developed that challenges the bevel gear's de facto monopoly in such applications. The concept is based on the principle of the crown gear; i.e., a cylindrical pinion mates with a face gear. Crown Gear B.V. in Enschede, Holland, is the developer of these specialty gear teeth, which are marketed under the trade name Cylkro.
Over the past decade, the wire electrical discharge machine (EDM) has become an increasingly important tool for machining non-standard shapes. It has even been used to cut gears and gear cavities for plastic molds. While generally accepted as a quick and versatile method for cutting spur gears, the EDM gear has lacked the precision of a mechanically machined or ground gear. We suspected that many of the errors associated with these gears were caused by inexact setup procedures, poor tool path control and improper cutting parameters. We decided to test the potential for the wire EDM to make the most accurate gear possible.
The word gear, in various forms, has been in use since around A.D. 1200, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Last issue we brought you Shakespearean gears. Now we'd like to show you some of the uses Americans have given our favorite word (from the Random House Dictionary of American Slang).