CNC machine tools have been around for decades. Having a CNC control on a machine is nothing new to manufacturing, but there are many large companies and job shops still relying on manual machine tools to get the job done. Manual machines can seem easier to set up, especially for long run production for the same or similar parts. Many gear manufacturers still run manual gear hobbers and gear shapers as they are still reliable machines that produce good gears. They have also paid for themselves many times over, so the profit margins seem high.
While Bourn & Koch can help keep your older Fellows gear shapers and Barber-Colman hobbers running reliably with parts and service, there comes a time when upgrading to CNC should be a consideration. CNC programming isn’t all M&G code any longer. Most manufacturers of new gear manufacturing equipment provide easy to learn conversational software that makes programming easy to learn and operate, making changeovers to new parts simple and fast.
On many older gear manufacturing machines, change gears are used to “program” the part. The different combinations of the change gears controls the synchronization of the work spindle and tool spindle to manufacture the gear properly. Many other tasks are involved in setting up a manual gear manufacturing machine such as adjusting the hob angle, changing back-off cams, adjusting the shaping head stroke… This is all very time-consuming work that requires the specialized knowledge. The operators that know how to set up these machines with change gears are becoming fewer and fewer, retiring at a record pace.
Upgrading to CNC gear manufacturing can help close that skills gap and help produce better quality, more consistently. It can also reduce your set up time. We conducted a time study between a veteran Barber-Colman operator and one of our sales engineers to see who could produce a better gear faster. The sales engineer, with minimal gear manufacturing experience, was able to set up and cut a better gear on our 100H CNC gear hobber 25% faster than the veteran hob operator on a Barber-Colman 6-10 he had been running for years. You can read the full article from Gear Technology by clicking here!
CNC gear manufacturing also allows for more capability in the machine. Faster work spindle speeds, hob RPM, stroking speeds, and built-in advanced programming features means that you can do more with your machine. The additional work you can bring in or the more parts you can produce per hour equates to a fast return on investment in many cases. Of course, it must make sense for you and your business to make the investment.
Bourn & Koch is here to help when the time is right for you to invest in new equipment. We can provide time studies, evaluate gear prints, and suggest the right piece of equipment to set you up for success. We recently developed a payback calculator that can show you just how fast a new CNC gear manufacturing machine can be paid off. You may be surprised how fast the investment will pay for itself.
When you are ready to learn more about upgrading to CNC gear manufacturing, give us a call. We have decades of experience in gear manufacturing and will be able to work with you to determine if the time is right for you to make the change.