Gears are mechanical components that have been used by mankind for a long time. These toothed elements have mechanical properties that are used to convey motion and power among machine components. From bicycles and cars to modern industrial machines, instrumentation, and equipment, gears find a wide range of applications in aircraft, automobiles, power plants, marine systems, and more! Earlier, these tools were a bit complex to manufacture. Thanks to the advanced CAD system and CNC machine system, the production of gears is more precise and faster than before!
Here, we’ll get you through the entire gear manufacturing process and the role of CNC machining.
What Goes into Gear Manufacturing Process?
Gears come in many configurations, i.e., spur, bevel, or helical gears. All these types of gear are generally found in aerospace, automotive, or other motor industries. They have applications in almost every modern machinery. Thus, gears should have robust construction and offer high efficiency, great performance, and durability. Based on these unique requirements, manufacturers use different materials to manufacture gears. Some gears are made of steel, while others are of non-ferrous materials.
Furthermore, gears are manufactured through many different processes, like Forging, Casting, Powder Metallurgy, or Blanking. Amongst these, Gear Machining is the most common manufacturing method.
Gear Machining: The Most Common Gear Manufacturing Process
Gear machining is a set of processes by which gears of different shapes are manufactured from raw materials. In this process, the material is filed and sculpted until the required shape and characteristics are obtained. Gear machining is divided into two categories-
Generally, cut gears are manufactured via a gear-generating method. In this method, gear cutting is done via a relative motion of a rotating cutting tool and rotational motion of the workpiece. Hobbing and Shaping are the two common gear generating processes.
Hobbing refers to a continuous machining process on a hobbing machine. A cutting tool called a hob is used to make a series of cuts into a workpiece. This method offers good precision when it comes to cutting gears, splines, etc. However, this process is limited to creating external gear teeth only.
Gear shaping uses a reciprocating tool called ‘shaper cutter’ to create a part. This process can be used to cut both internal and external gears. Moreover, it requires a small clearance; thus, it can be used to cut gears that hobbing can’t. This process is slow as compared to hobbing, though.
In this process, cutting tools with actual shapes (desired in the final product) are used. Broaching and Milling are the two most common form-cutting methods.
Broaching is the fastest method of machining gears. It is extensively used to fashion the gears into levelled structures by removing excess material from them. It redefines the odd shapes of gears.
The gear milling process involves the use of a milling machine for creating almost any type of gear. Traditionally, manufacturers used a form cutter for producing gears. This method is now outdated due to its low precision. However, recent CNC modeling improvements have empowered gear milling, resulting in the use of standard milling tools with sophisticated CAD programs.
What Is the Role of CNC Machining in Gear Manufacture?
Manual methods of the gear manufacturing process, like cutting or hobbing, have been relied on for years. In fact, knowledgeable and skilled operators were able to achieve fantastic results. But CNC precision machining has revolutionized the gear and spline business. Below is what makes custom machining ideal for gear part fabrication-
Improved Speed and Quality
With CNC machining, you get the same result as specified, at a faster speed. Unlike manual methods, the speed of production is high, streamlining the production process. Further, CNC machining offers a lucrative option for a larger production. Though a skilled operator can replicate the same quality, CNC machining lets you assess the production rates and quality better.
No Need for Prototype
With CNC machining software, one can visualize the finished products before they are made. A finished product designed on a computer eliminates the need for a prototype.
CNC machining, Machine tools control panel offers ways for monitoring the progress of gear manufacture remotely. Thus, manufacturers can keep track of their projects and keep an eye on every detail. Though it requires experience, the level of skills and overall user involvement is still less compared to the traditional gear cutting methods.
Precision is a paramount consideration when it comes to gear manufacturing. Factors like gear variations, high accuracy, etc., make the process a bit complex. However, by picking the right solution, the quality and productivity can be improved while saving a lot of time and effort.
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