Skiving machine with sharpener

Vertical power-skiving machines from Gleason intended for the production of soft and hardened gears up to 600 mm in diameter can now be equipped with an on-board cutter re-sharpening unit to reduce cutter changes and help ensure consistent quality.

As a result of automating cutter re-sharpening operations, Gleason power-skiving machines require minimum operator involvement, reducing the time typically required for frequent tool changes and subsequent first-part inspection cycles. Additionally, the usual cost for external tool refurbishment can be avoided.
Compared with the typical cutter re-sharpening process, the on-board unit is fast and simple. The machine’s axes position the cutter to the grinding wheel, before the re-sharpening unit executes the necessary grinding strokes, with the cutter performing the infeed and indexing from tooth to tooth. All of this is undertaken automatically and based on the cutter geometry that exists after a certain number of gears have been cut. After the initial corrections are made based on the first gear cut, a consistent gear quality is more easily maintained throughout the complete life of the tool. The frequency of re-sharpening cycles can be selected depending on the gear quality required.
Tool cost-per-piece is also lower compared with external reconditioning, with no tool changes, first-part-inspections and machine adjustments during a cutter’s lifetime, as well as no handling and logistics costs for reconditioning cycles. With a lot less cutters in circulation, tool investment is reduced significantly.
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AB Tools opts for Anca tool grinder

A specialist in the manufacturing of cutting tools, Lincoln, California-based AB Tools, has taken delivery of an Anca MX7 Linear grinding machine with automation to help it produce the company’s Shear Hog range of carbide inserts. Existing machines and processes were proving insufficient to keep up with demand.

The engineering team at Anca worked closely with AB Tools to find a solution, as it can custom-design mechanical, electrical, software and process solutions to enhance the standard product range and meet specific customer requirements. The engineering team was requested to deliver a solution that was able to automatically load and grind the Shear Hog inserts, perform grinding operations in one set-up and meet cycle time requirements.
Developments included a modification to the loading system, with custom pallets to suit the inserts. The custom pallets can hold up to 442 inserts, although this capacity can be increased by ordering the four-pallet upgrade option available on the MX7 Robomate universal loader. A modification to the robot gripper head allows the robot to pick up and handle the insert/nail combination. In addition, robot loading software was developed to support the insert pick-up operation, and load and unload the nail via an interchange station. Inserts can now be ground in a cycle time of less than six minutes.
“Anca impressed me from day one,” states Alfred Lyon, AB Tools’ shop supervisor. “Creating a whole new type of machine for AB Tools is not merely impressive, it’s extraordinary. We could have purchased another machine similar to the one we were using, but we asked Anca for help because we wanted to expand our capabilities and simplify the process. This new machine has exceeded both desires.”
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Ceramics specialist invests in Okamato

Following 12 months of trouble-free operation at the Crewe manufacturing facility of CoorsTek, a manufacturer of engineered ceramics, an Okamoto 818 CNC surface and profile grinder has been integrated as a core part of the company’s specialist grinding operations.

The machine was one of the first to be supplied by Jones & Shipman Hardinge, Okamoto’s sole UK distributor. Tristan Weller, production manager at CoorsTek, says: “In the surface grinding cell, we are precision grinding ceramics to typical tolerances of ±10 µm on form radii, and down to 5 µm on flat surfaces. It is a complex process with slow feeds and speeds, and can take its toll on machines and wheels alike. Inherently, it is a time-consuming task, so sustained machine integrity and stability are important.”
Offering a compact footprint, the Okamoto 818 CNC features a 450 x 200 mm table area with the machine based on a small moving saddle design. The ISO type programming menu is delivered through a Fanuc CNC unit with other key features being automatic lubrication to guides and slideways to optimise reliability and prolong maintenance-free operation.
All of the core machine castings exhibit high static and dynamic stiffness, and are fully damped. Scraped V-slideways with low-friction Turcite coatings are standard.
Harry Hodgson, Crewe plant manager, and Tristan Weller, production manager, say: “The Jones & Shipman overall commitment to quality and aftersales technical support convinced us to invest in the machine.”
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Relying on Walter tool grinders

Within the UK abrasive machining segment, tool grinding retains a major presence. A case in point can be seen at tooling specialist Gandtrack and sister company GT Grinding, which have been mirrored by their regular investment in Walter tool grinders and automatic measuring machines.

Housing 28 employees between them, Gandtrack and GT Grinding have installed a total of 12 Walter machines (10 Helitronic tool grinders and two Helicheck inspection machines) since 2000. And while in each successive case, the new machine has resulted in a higher level of production efficiency, it is Gandtrack’s latest investment – a Helitronic Power with robot loader – that catches the eye.
“We found that machining batches of initially 20-60 each month of comparatively long [up to 280 mm] reamers in 15 different sizes, and with long flute lengths of 70 to 90 mm, wasn’t proving ideal when using the machine steady,” says director Adrian Jones. “So, we investigated the use of the Helitronic Power’s automatic tailstock in conjunction with the machine chuck. We liaised with Walter AG in Germany – whose engineers prepared the program and, with carbide rods in hand, we spent a full day there producing the reamers. The demonstrations showed that we could halve machining times and, importantly, avoid scrap.”
Explaining that the process allows the tailstock to be removed from the reamers for the completion of end work, Jones also highlights how the use of probing in conjunction with the tailstock/chuck “means the exact position of the flutes can be determined”.
The choice of a robot loader instead of Walter’s Eco loader, which Gandtrack/GT already have on four machines, was also determined by practicality, as well as by the potential for increased production, says Jones.
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Moving up the gears

The definition of quality has been described as an ongoing process of building and sustaining relationships by assessing, anticipating and fulfilling stated and/or implied needs.

Never has this definition been more appropriate than when applied to Aldershot-based FT Gearing Systems Ltd. In addition to establishing long-term relationships with its customers, this manufacturer of gear technology and high-precision components also enjoys enduring associations with a small number of carefully chosen machine-tool suppliers. At the top of the list is Studer, and the company’s UK agent, Advanced Grinding Supplies.
Continuous expansion at FT Gearing in recent years has led to regular investment in the Swiss-built machines, resulting in the company now operating 16 Studer CNC grinders – the largest collection owned by a single UK company.
Explaining the company’s loyalty to the Studer brand, managing director Graham Fitzgerald says: “Studer machines are able to consistently deliver levels of accuracy and repeatability that conventional grinding machines are unable to achieve. For instance, through the use of Studer technology we are able to accomplish sub-micron cylindricity results on 35mm diameter gear journals. We can also achieve surface finish of 0.08 µm and gear flatness to three light bands. To enable grinding to sub-micron tolerances, we recently installed our Studer CNC machines in a new temperature-controlled facility.
“To guarantee the highest possible levels of quality and productivity, we also use the best available grinding consumables and accessories,” he adds. “Therefore, as well as purchasing our Studer grinders from Advanced Grinding Supplies, we also rely on the company for items such as diamond dressing tools, precision centres, abrasives/grinding wheels, coolant filter media and air filtration systems.”
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