Shop Matters - Ep. 3 Gear Milling

Wade Anderson



Shop Matters is a podcast designed to talk about the world of machining and manufacturing with your host, Wade Anderson. Sponsored by Okuma America.

In this week's episode, Wade speaks with Jeff Estes of Velocity Products and Chris Peluso of Okuma America about gear milling on non-traditional manufacturing equipment, such as multitasking machines.

TRANSCRIPTION

Wade Anderson:

Hello, manufacturing world. I'm Wade Anderson with Shop Matters, sponsored by Okuma America. This podcast is created to discuss all things machining and manufacturing. In the studio with me today, I've got Jeff Estes with Velocity Products and Chris Peluso with the Okuma America Corporation. Jeff, tell us a little bit about yourself. What's your background?

Jeff Estes:

Well, first of all, I'm glad to be here. I appreciate the opportunity just to talk, but I've been in manufacturing my whole life. I started in manufacturing in 1978. Joined it again, coming out of college in 1982, and I worked in machining and metal removing up to this day, and just absolutely love it and just say that I've been one of those that's blessed. I've never had a day of unemployment in all that time, so-

Wade Anderson:

That's excellent.

Jeff Estes:

I appreciate the opportunity.

Wade Anderson:

I appreciate you being here. I'm going to age myself, so I was four-years-old when you got started in manufacturing.

Jeff Estes:

Oh, man. Man, you had to say it, too, didn't you? You had to go there. So thanks. No, thank you.

Wade Anderson:

Chris, tell us a little bit about you.

Chris Peluso:

I'm a Lathe applications engineer over at Okuma, and I won't let you know when I got started in manufacturing because you got started before I was born.

Wade Anderson:

What got you-

Jeff Estes:

Thank you so much. I feel really young now. Thanks.

Wade Anderson:

What got you into manufacturing? How'd you wind up in this industry?

Chris Peluso:

It was 3D modeling, drafting is where I started and I wanted to do something a little bit more advanced than just straight-line drawing. From the modeling, I went on to land tool path some parts.

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Chris Peluso:

And then running machines and from there on... I don't know, that was probably about 10 years ago, when I started all that.

Wade Anderson:

Excellent. Well, today's topic, we are going to do a little bit of a deep dive on gear milling, gear manufacturing on... let's say non-traditional gear cutting equipment. Is that fair to say?

Chris Peluso:

Sure. Multitasking machines.

Wade Anderson:

Multitasking, all right.

Jeff Estes:

Are we going to talk about turret lays as well, or are we going to talk about multi-function, or what do you think?

Wade Anderson:

I say both.

Jeff Estes:

Okay, cool. Cool.

Wade Anderson:

Peel the onion all over.

Jeff Estes:

There you go. There you go.

Wade Anderson:

So Chris, a little bit on gear cutting, I know a lot of the Okuma machines come with a gear cutting software. Can you tell us just kind of an overview of what that entails?

Chris Peluso:

So, simply, it is a user interface, graphical user interface, that allows an operator to input some values that they'll take off a gear data table and a cutter print, put them together and it'll make a program for them.

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Chris Peluso:

So you're not having to think about really what you have to do to drive the machine anymore.

Wade Anderson:

So this is shop floor programming?

Chris Peluso:

Yeah.

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Chris Peluso:

It's kind of conversational, but not like an AOT product or something like that. It's really... it looks more like a spreadsheet, right? Here's what we're looking for number of teeth on the part, number of teeth on the cutter, and then a little bit about how you want to cut the part and there it generates the program.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. Very good.

Jeff Estes:

Well, that's a lot easier than what I had to do back in the ‘80s when we were trying to make gears and-

Chris Peluso:

I was going to say, no actual gears to change, just numbers-

Jeff Estes:

Oh, man. And you had to calculate ratios and everything else and do all the math. Man, that's sweet. Sweet.

Chris Peluso:

It's all about making it easier on the operator, and I think Okuma's focused on that for a while.

Wade Anderson:

So, I just recently got back from the EMO Show over in Hannover, Germany. We had a multifunction machine, one of our MULTUS machines set up doing gear cutting, but as I walked through the entire trade show, that was a huge focus. I noticed pretty much every builder, every booth, had some kind of a gear cutting demonstration of some sort. Are you seeing this to be more and more prominent, that people are doing gear cutting on, kind of go back to that, non-traditional gear cutting machines?

Chris Peluso:

Yes, absolutely. Just like all machines, dedicated gear cutting machines age too, and now guys are looking to replace those. And they're saying, "Well, if we go to a lathe, be it turret lathe or multitasking lathe, or even a five axis machining center, we can start doing some of these other operations besides just put a gear on them."

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Chris Peluso:

Right? So you get a lot of diversity out of a part or, versatility out of a machine tool.

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Jeff Estes:

Well, Wade, as Okuma has always said though, some of the benefits is you're doing it all in one. So now, you've got all of your geometries and all the relationships of these parts. Now, they're consistent in that one process. You don't have all the whip from OP 10, OP 20, OP 30. You don't have to keep all that stuff there. Your tooling is simpler, the work holdings simpler. So, man-

Chris Peluso:

And your dimensional accuracies are better.

Jeff Estes:

Great point. Absolutely. So just many, many reasons why people are going that process.

Wade Anderson:

So talk a little bit about what type of gears do you typically see that people are doing on machines like what we're discussing.

Chris Peluso:

Well, it's all over the place, but what you probably noticed at EMO is skiving, and the big thing that people are trying to get away from is shaping, right? Shaping is a long, slow gear manufacturing process where skiving is a high-speed process.

Wade Anderson:

All right, so define that for me. What's the difference between skiving versus skiving? What did I just say? Shaping versus skiving.

Chris Peluso:

So shaping, you're really... The cutting style is very similar, but the skiving cutter's going to be tilted at roughly 20 degrees and it's going to allow the cutter to just go quicker through the material. You're talking increases from, say, 90 minutes a part to 15 minutes a part.

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Chris Peluso:

Right. So huge, huge cycle time savings.

Jeff Estes:

And that's exactly what we see in our tool holders, as well. We call it broaching, shaping on these. It's by all means the easiest process and the most universal, but it's by far the slowest. So you just have to look at the application, where does one fit in to the other? But Chris is 100% on the money. Skiving is quick, makes a very good high-quality gear, very good in high production. So really-

Wade Anderson:

OD and ID?

Jeff Estes:

Both, both.

Chris Peluso:

The biggest gain is on the ID.

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Chris Peluso:

Yeah.

Wade Anderson:

All right. That's where a traditional approaching or shipping type process would take place?

Jeff Estes:

Yes, because hobbing’s quick on the OD, but as Chris was saying, skiving on the ID is really fast and broaching is so slow. Broaching or shaping is just slow compared to that.

Chris Peluso:

Well. And to that point, even having a reciprocating broach like Velocity carries is even quicker a lot of times then go into a standard vertical approach that is dedicated to just that with their tools. That's a change I end effector and cut a new part.

Wade Anderson:

So let me hit the pause button. We've thrown out a lot of terms real quick. For people that aren't as familiar with gear cutting, Jeff, talk about what are the three main types of cutting operations that you would be involved with?

Jeff Estes:

Okay, so let's go into the three types that, really we have tool holders for and we offer that to go on both a multifunction lathes like a Okuma MULTUS or a turret style lay like an LB 3000 or an ALU 3000 there's really three technologies skiving which we can talk about is very fast, is a directional rotational cutting with opposite directions, cutting tool, maybe going clockwise, the part going counterclockwise, extremely fast, extremely accurate and creates just a great, great quality spline or gear tooth and doing that hobbing which is more traditional, mainly OD if you would, but a very good function. Mainly on turret type machines that you'll see those type tool holders on, but still traditional makes a very good quality and is very quick as well. And then the last one would be broaching shaping, which we make a broaching tool that goes into a live turret type machine that you actually make one profile at a time, whether it's a spline or a cure tooth, you're making one at a time. Now it's very flexible and very universal, but it's the slowest of the three by all means. So those are the three terms you'll probably hear skiving hobbing broaching shaping.

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Chris Peluso:

And there really is a fourth, too, which is profile cutters or gashing cutters, which you can mount into an LB or a Multi-style by using a driven turret.

Jeff Estes:

You're absolutely right. Absolutely right.

Chris Peluso:

But again, that's a single tooth at a time process. It's not ideal, but it's good for really large gears.

Jeff Estes:

Yeah, you're right. There's good point. Good point.

Wade Anderson:

So what does a customer need to know if he's going to look at using a turret lathe or a multifunction machine? What does he need to know? To actually get started and start producing a gear profiles.

Chris Peluso:

Don't do it in a vacuum.

Wade Anderson:

I like that. Define that.

Chris Peluso:

The biggest issue that I run into is the customer may call a distributor or a machine tool manufacturer, or it may call a tooling vendor, or it may call a tool block each independently and you really have to have the conversation from the very beginning with everybody involved, right? You can't, because at any given time a cutting tool manufacturer may say, Oh well I can't do that, or a tool block supplier, I can't supply the tool, or the machine tool guy may say, oh no, you have tool interference with this, you know, feature so it can all fall apart at any given time. So everybody has to have that conversation the whole way through from basically its genesis to its implementation. You, just can't do it piecemeal and with different people, it doesn't work.

Jeff Estes:

So, so true. We always request a drawing of the part, or at least the gearing or spline profile. So we can see, first of all, what are you trying to do and what may be the best approach to it. Also, let's face it, you got to have a good machine to put it on. I mean you, you just, fortunately in Okuma's premium machine, highest quality out there and it has no problems to the rigidity, the speed, all the things that go with that type of machine. But if you go on a lesser machine or are weaker or less rigid machine, you're probably not going to get the quality of gear that you want as well. So those are questions that we ask as well.

Chris Peluso:

Well, and there's a lot of questions in regards to support, right? A lot of customers don't think about a study rest or a tailstock might be necessary to support a part, right? And then they try and put one of these gear cutting tools into it and realize, Oh wait a minute, there's interference with the tailstock. Right? So you got to think about it all together at the same time.

Jeff Estes:

So that is so wise. Chris is right on the money because not only do you have to look at that tool station, but the adjacent tools stations. What are you trying to do with those? Are you going to get into an interference for the work holding or the part itself and have you modeled it? Have you put your basic models in there just to see if you have any interference? Excellent point.

Wade Anderson:

Now Jeff, do you guys do any work like that from a tooling standpoint? If somebody comes to you requesting live tools of some sort?

Jeff Estes:

Excellent question. We supply the tool holder if you would, what the machine would drive that holds the actual cutting tool. We're going to go to the application engineers of both Okuma and all the distribution to kind of see and to the other machine tool builders and go say, Hey, how would you approach this? We're thinking of this. These are some options. This is what the customer wants to do, and then we would go to a higher level type person to really help us with that technical side.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. How about the cutting tools themselves? The hobs, the inserts, that would go into a broaching tool. What's your experience there?

Chris Peluso:

There's a handful of really good manufacturers out there. We are technically partnered with a few of them. You know Sandvik I worked directly with a lot. In fact, I was on a phone with them on the way over here, but Star-SU and is another fantastic avenue that we have for getting tools. There's some guys that don't work with us directly because we're in competition with them. Right. There are other guys that make cutting tools and machine tools at the same time, so it becomes a little bit tricky to work with them.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. What about lead times? What the lead times look like if a guy is going to take, maybe he's got a machine already on his floor, he wants to get started into cutting gear shapes. What type of lead times are a lot of these tools, stuff that's available off the shelf? Are these custom-built applications?

Jeff Estes:

Well, it really depends on the profile he's trying to make too. If he's making a standard profile or a key way or a standard spline, those inserts are going to be readily available in the tool holders, as well as the tool holders that we provide, the driving tool holders. So we may be looking at four to six weeks, but if they get into a special profile he could easily stretch out to double that time to really go into that. And that's where we see a lot of customers asking us questions. They will come back and I have a special profile or I need this or I need a special need. So it's a great question. You know and that's where Chris don't go into it blindly, his comment, wise start getting more in people, more people engaged early in the process and start talking through it. That way we're partnering with everyone instead of just throwing parts at and trying to come up with a solution.

Chris Peluso:

Right. Yeah. That’s what and how it makes a big difference cause you may be able to set up a reciprocate in broach head on a particular part and be going, if you can grind the insert in a few weeks. But if you've decided, okay well we have to Skype this, it might be a few weeks for you even get a concept drawing right in a few months to get a tool.

Jeff Estes:

Great example is we had a customer just last week that wanted to do a four inch long spline on the ID of a gear. Well we immediately told them, sorry that's not the solution for broaching and shaping because usually it's about two and a half inches is your stroke, your maximum stroke. So there has to be a different solution for that for the list. And that was just a quick look. They thought that they could do it. We really can't. So.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. Okay. So what else is involved when it comes to manufacturing? What about work holding? Is that a...

Chris Peluso:

It's got to be good. I mean run out is huge. And I think a lot of people don't think about gear, especially if they're not making them. The tolerances are tighter than normal parts.

Wade Anderson:

Okay.

Jeff Estes:

Yeah. And what Chris, I'll go into a little bit more. It's the machine tool itself. You're trying to synchronize the motion of two rotary axes as well as at least one linear axis. So you're trying to synchronize all of this and maintain a profile and where Chris was going in to skiving the rotational speeds of skiving are very fast and they're opposite directions.

Jeff Estes:

So now how do you, how do you synchronize these things in opposite directions and it may be at different rotational speeds. Yeah. And then you've got a linear axis. You're trying to move at the same time, puts a big demand on the accuracy of the machines. So having a good foundation to start with is critical. Then you've got to have a good tool holder that's going to be able to accurately transfer that motion that the machines given to it. And then you've got to have quality tools and same time or Christmas going on to work holding. You've got to be able to hold it accurately. No vibration, no moving around, position it the same way repeatedly, just all kinds of things. That's where, again, don't go into this in a vacuum. There's a lot going on.

Wade Anderson:

What about inspection? You can code a tool. How do you know you're making a good tool?

Chris Peluso:

Well that you know, a lot of these guys have their own is inspection equipment on site. That's really what you got to rely on, right, is the knowledge of the customer and that's why, say, us and a cutting tool manufacturer can't just make up a solution without the customer's involvement. Right? Obviously if they've never made the part before, they need to think about are we going to just get a go-no-go gauge or are we going to go to third-party or purchase some equipment in-house? On some machines you do have gaging, right? So you can use a tactile probe and some, we do have a software that we're partnered with Hexagon Metrology on a machine tool that can actually check the profile, the lead, the run out of the gear. Right. And generate your, your typical line charts.

Jeff Estes:

Yeah. And on top of that, the newest technology is vision systems where you're visually checking that spline and gear and that technology continues to emerge and become more and more accurate every day and very, very fast, and being able to compare it to a good profile of what you actually have. So as Chris said, there're several places and several companies you could go to. Hexagons are great example where you can get that type of technology to check, but it could be as simple as a go-no-go. Or just making sure that Hey, this this fits in that criteria. And then you do checking later, to get...

Wade Anderson:

Very good. So Jeff, any new products on the horizon? What's, what's Velocity? What's the future look like for what you guys are doing?

Jeff Estes:

Yeah, the biggest challenge is there's three major players in gear cutting. You've got the machine tool builder, you've got the cutting tool, the actual one that makes the chip, and then you've got some type of holder, especially in a turret type lathe that you've got to connect all these. Well, everyone's developing new stuff every single day, so we constantly have to develop new ways and new ways to drive it because cutting tools are getting better everyday machine tools are faster, more accurate, more rigid every single day. And then how do we build holders that compliment that instead of distracting from it and yes, so there's constant development or these constant changes and we're continuing to work on skiving. It's the latest and greatest thing right now. And we're trying to figure out how to get faster and faster with our rotational or the cutting tool.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. Yeah. So Chris, all your experience at Okuma, what's, what's new exciting stuff that you've been working on?

Chris Peluso:

Oh, I can't talk about that kind of stuff. Not allowed.

Wade Anderson:

Indulgence until she got to kill us kind of thing. You get involved in a lot of the skunk work projects.

Chris Peluso:

Yeah. Mo, most of my projects have sheets over them. But you know, in regards to what an Okuma's working on, it's always developing something simpler and what the customer wants. Right? So we've got small aerospace companies out in LA pushing us to do things that two years ago we would say, no, we can't do that. Right? It's not a machine that's built for that. And today it's so well, so we're working towards it. We'll get an answer for you. You know, we've gotten something. It works, but it's not refined yet. So...

Wade Anderson:

That's amazing to me to see how many operations are done on machine tools from, I first started machining in the early nineties and you look at it today and sometimes the outside shape of the machine looks the same, but you look at the products coming out, it's mind boggling what's coming out of these. Yeah.

Jeff Estes:

Simply didn't cut gears on the lathe 30 years ago, it just wasn't a process that you did. Now it's very, very standard and very, very common. And as Chris said, people are wanting to do more with less. Machine tools are expensive. They made a huge investment, especially in a high quality machine tool and they want to do as much as they possibly can with that. And that's where customers are driving us. How do we? I've got a limited floor space. I'll get a limited number of machines. I want to be able to do these processes. How do we do them? And yeah, let's work together as just partners really makes that happen. And we have to, no one has the magic one that makes everything work, but together we do and that's what we do.

Chris Peluso:

Well and really it's allowing the customer to control their business. The, the company that I was out with in LA, they were having to send their parts to Canada to have just the gears put on them. So they turned the whole shaft, send them to Canada, but they had to wait to have enough of them to make it worthwhile to send them. Then they'd come back, right. So then they'd stop at the border each way they'd be processed in Canada. It would take them one week to do all of their work on a part, but then it was taking a week and a half for it to leave their building, go up, be machined and come back. So they were putting double the time in when they're saying, if we could do this in house, we'd have control.

Jeff Estes:

And all the transportation costs and the opportunity for damaging a packing and unpacking and all those other costs that come into place. A great point.

Wade Anderson:

What about skills needed from the operators? What kind of special skills, what kind of experience do they have to have? Is there things that we do from a software perspective or tooling perspective that helps take some of the higher level skillset needs away.

Chris Peluso:

It's nothing that can't be learned, but you know, it's like all things cutting it. It's methodical and it needs to be looked at that way. Right. So I don't know if there's a school you could go to learn it other than the machine you're working on it. That's how I got it.

Jeff Estes:

Well, many of the technical colleges are starting to show hobbing and broaching specifically skiving is something they're just starting to teach students on. But they're advanced students. It's not the first six months is usually in a latter parts of either getting their degree or their certificate. But this is, this is a complex process. There's a lot of pieces that have to work very well together to get the profiles and the quality that you want. Okuma’s made it easier with this gearing option software. And Chris that, that sounds really exciting because you know you used to have to get your calculator out and calculate all kinds of unbelievable arcs and angles and feeds and ratios and now the software does a lot of that for you.

Chris Peluso:

Yeah. Cause we really are moving from a mechanical to an electrical world.

Jeff Estes:

That's a good way of putting it. That's a really good way of putting it. So although the software's made it simpler, you still need to have someone who understands what's happening, what the machine's trying to do, what the tools are trying to do.

Chris Peluso:

Well in here, the biggest thing for like myself is I need to go to guys that have the 20-30 years’ experience to figure out how to troubleshoot what I just got. Right. So I get a gear chart back and I don't really know what all the secrets that it's telling me are. So I got to go to one of these Sage guys out in the back corner that actually knows what it says and figure out, okay, now that they've told me that, how do I make the machine act the way I want it?

Wade Anderson:

I've seen guys,

Jeff Estes:

Harry Potter wand that just makes things happen. You know...

Wade Anderson:

I've seen guys that can, they just look at the surface, finish coming off the tooth. They can see from the scallops, the cutting and different things as surface finish visually and know what kind of adjustments have to be made. So having that, like you say, the tribal knowledge of gear manufacturing is huge.

Jeff Estes:

Yeah. Looking at that gear envelope and the curve on the gear so you get the right contact and the right contact points for longevity. That's something that people just don't pick up as something that we didn't need to know. So, but it is a group effort. How do you get all the three, four, five important aspects together?

Wade Anderson:

How do you think the E-mobility, the electronic mobility as cars are becoming more and more motorized from a, you look at the Teslas and people like that, how do you think that's going to affect the gear industry moving forward?

Jeff Estes:

Well, they're still gears. They're not maybe as many, which there won't be, you won't have as big a transmission to stuff. They're still going to be gears that have to be made. Electric motors have a tendency to make whining noises as they go faster and faster. So you want, there's going to be a drive, continual drive to get that noise down. Gears can't make noise as electric motors are quieter than gas motors, you're going to pick up of any gear noise. So the quality of gearing it has to go into the transmission side. It's actually going to have to be really high to reduce the gear noise or we're going to complain about it from the interior of the car cause I can't listen to my Bose stereo sound.

Wade Anderson:

Okay. You got an old Jeep CJ seven I've got a rock crusher. Oh my gosh. He's talking about noisy.

Jeff Estes:

There you go. So, the electric cars, it's going to continue to drive this evolution and in some cases a revolution to change things to try to do it better, to look at it a different approach. It's also going to bring volume into it. There's going to be volume in a different area than what we may just see in a traditional...

Chris Peluso:

Especially because there'll be less traditional machining for an electric car. That is correct. Right. So you to the suppliers are going to have to be able to do more. They're going to have to add that value of adding gears as well as just standard machine parts.

Jeff Estes:

And I asked Chris early, he was talking about 3D modeling and I asked him about, well how does that relate to 3D printing? And a lot of people think that a 3D printing or additive manufacturing is going to fix all this. You just put it in, it makes it, and everything's perfect. The quality that we need for those types of gears, it's not going to be there, especially in today's technology. So we've got to machine it. We've got to do something to bring the quality level beyond can finish, correct. To get that noise down and that longevity that we want.

Wade Anderson:

All right. That's an interesting look. All right, well, we're running a close to our time limit here, but I do want to thank you guys for coming in and talking with us today. Again, my name is Wade Anderson. With Shop Matters. Please feel free to reach out to us with questions, comments, and any ideas for future podcast. Until next time,

read more
Sign Up For Updates
Thank you for signing up for Okuma updates. We look forward to sharing our content with you.

We offer a variety of ways for you to stay informed about our events, and to receive general Okuma updates. Fill out the form below to let us know the type of information you'd like to receive.

Find Your Distributor
Sign Up For Updates
Thank you for signing up for Okuma updates. We look forward to sharing our content with you.

We offer a variety of ways for you to stay informed about our events, and to receive general Okuma updates. Fill out the form below to let us know the type of information you'd like to receive.