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A Guide to Gear Manufacturing Production processes are designed to create added value. In gear manufacturing, the creation of benefit focuses on achieving QCD (costs, volumes, and deadlines). Production of gears involves an interlinkage of various manufacturing processes. These processes may include forging, casting, powder metallurgy, blanking, and extrusion. Gear manufacturers produce different kinds of gears for use in different industries. The various kinds include worm gears, bevel gears, gear racks, spur and helical gears. Gears are classified depending on the positioning of the shafts. How a gear transmits force in its application field, determines its mechanical configuration. The gear selection process requires the evaluation of factors such as the gears dimensions, precision grades, the number of teeth, its torque, and efficiency. Advances in gear manufacturing technology have made it easier for manufacturers to produce stock or custom made gears. Currently, a wide variety of machines are available for the production of gears. The gear manufacturing process can be automatic, semi automatic, or manual. As such, machining is the most populate gear production process involving two main methods: shaping or hobbing. Large volumes of gears are manufactured using machine based techniques. Machine hobbing is performed on dedicated machines using either vertical or horizontal work spindles. In hobbing, a gear blank is moved towards a rotating hob until the proper depth is achieved. Once the right depth is reached, a hob cutter is passed across the gears face until all gear teeth are complete. Grinding employs a gear cutter to achieve the required gear design and type. Typically, the grinding process is used in the manufacture of hardened gears. Due to the process’s slowness, it is only suitable for the manufacture of high quality hardened gears.
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Quality manufacture of gears requires a working knowledge of the mechanical properties of materials used in production. It is equally true where production depends on standardized designs. Production requires engineers to understand factors such as rotational directions, drive train speed ratios, the different kinds of gears, their sizes, and strengths. Additionally, factor such as backlashes, teeth forms and thicknesses, ISO and AGMA ratings play a significant role in gear manufacturing.
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Designing gears, therefore, relies on industry standards for improving quality and performance. Accordingly, production of gears necessitates the need for benchmarking of manufacturers facilities and techniques. A major techniques used to benchmark manufacturing standards is reverse engineering gears. Benchmarking by reverse engineering requires the calculation of production parameters for known gear types and related mechanical applications. However, the standardization process is much more complex than calculating gear parameters and application variables. Data obtained by reverse engineering gears is typically accurate and useful in the production process. Reverse engineering requires performing repetitive procedures to obtain relevant data. Acquired measurements provide information regarding design deviations, uncertainty in measurements, and wearing of gears in the application environment.