A new hobbing machine enables a job shop to take new opportunities.
“We saw market growth potential by adding hobbing ability for small-diameter parts and for long-shaft hobbing, meaning parts over 500 mm long,” said Terry Roach, sales manager for Gear Master, recalling the challenge for the job shop’s growth in 2019. As all job shops consider expanding capabilities, Gear Master’s next step for growth appeared to be in smaller parts and longer parts, and the company found an ideal solution that solved both needs. This machine, a Helios Hera 90-W horizontal CNC gear hobbing machine, provided a complete installed package within a few months: ability to hob small diameter parts, capacity for part lengths up to 600 mm, high-speed carbide hobbing, domestic support in the Midwest, and a price that ensured a profitable platform for the future.
Pictured from left: Kevin Geloge, William Abke, Kyle Dobbs, Richard Conger, Patrick Greer, Tim Hoban, Lon Parker
Gear Master, Inc., specializes in precision gear and spline manufacturing with the expertise and equipment to prove it. Since its start in 1997, the company has built a wide range of CNC machining capabilities that include dedicated grinding and hobbing platforms. Gear Master serves the aerospace, defense, medical, and industrial sectors with work for flagship programs such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Lockheed Martin C-130, JASSM Missile, a Stryker surgical drill, various Caterpillar and Allison Transmission projects, and electric vehicles. The following applications showcase how the new Hera 90-W from Helios Gear Products has improved Gear Master’s ability to serve its customers.
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A 32 DP, 26-tooth, 303 stainless steel, spur gear requires AGMA Q9 quality. This part—thousands used monthly in a surgical device—requires highly productive hobbing to be profitable for a job shop. This was a challenge before because a mid-twentieth-century hobber limited the application to only 2 pieces per cycle due to the machine’s lack of rigidity. Today, Gear Master manufactures these parts 4 pieces per cycle, using high-speed hobbing on the Hera 90-W. Consequently, the shop’s productivity has greatly increased measured as parts produced per machine-hour.
Not only does the new machine deliver success, but Gear Master has found Helios to be a reliable partner to support demanding opportunities. For example, to satisfy a quick-delivery Dana Corp. prototype job for the electric vehicle market, a small-diameter tool was required. Helios delivered a carbide hob with arbor tooling in under 4 weeks, enabling Gear Master to exceed their customer’s expectations. In addition to simply installing machine tools, Helios defines customer success through ongoing technical support with applications engineering, cutting tools, abrasive tools, and industry training. “This wholistic approach from a machine’s install throughout its entire life ensures manufacturers like Gear Master can compete at their top level every day of the week,” said Jason Spitzer, regional sales manager for Helios Gear Products.
A 1.95 module, 19-tooth, 32-degree helical gear needs to be cut on a long-shaft part for an Olympic transportation vehicle. Gear Master was challenged by losing 18% of their production due to quality issues from chatter and lead error. The job shop was also constrained by the application’s target cycle time that maxed out the incumbent CNC hobbing platform, forcing the application to use an aggressive feed rate. By moving the application to the Hera 90-W, Gear Master boosted its arsenal to overcome the application’s challenges: The same workholding strategy is used, but the new machine inherently removes chatter and improves lead error by offering a more rigid platform. Furthermore, the new machine offers hobbing speeds up to 6,000 rpm, which Gear Master uses to optimize the application by increasing speed and decreasing feed. Consequently, today the parts meet quality with a minimized fallout rate, thus greatly saving the job shop on scrap parts.
“Our operators are very pleased with the ease of programming on the machine and with the high repeatability of the machine,” said Lon Parker, operations manager for Gear Master. Together, Helios and Gear Master have forged a relationship for versatile horizontal gear manufacturing success. Helios equips the job shop with globally leading technology, fast deliveries, low prices, and domestic support. This combination empowers Gear Master to be an industry leader and more competitively serve its customers.