The gear hobbing machine uses a NUM FS152i operator panel, with a custom-developed HMI.

High Productivity, Intelligent CNC Gear Hobbing

Aug. 17, 2016
NUM’s CNC platform plus precision electronic gearbox boost process efficiency, eliminate the time needed to change mechanical gears 5-axis electronic gear synchronization Industry 4.0 design objectives Easy data access, data sharing

NUM Corporation’s Flexium+ CNC modular control platform is reported to be the basis of a new, high-efficiency gear-hobbing machine, developed by Taiwanese researchers with support from an affiliate of automation system developer. NUM claimed that the new gear-hobbing machine with an electronic gearbox “completely eliminates” the time necessary to change mechanical gears, as is required on standard machine tools.

The development is credited to NUM Taiwan Ltd. and Taiwan’s Feng Chia University. As detailed by NUM, the new technology emerged from work fostered by Prof. Ruihong Xu, at the University’s College of Engineering. Following discussions between NUM and Prof. Xu about the potential machine control possibilities of its most recent Flexium+ CNC system (which involves an advanced electronic gearbox), NUM donated several CNC controllers to the university in 2014. The resulting “intelligent” CNC gear hobbing machine developed there uses five-axis electronic gear synchronization techniques. It is on exhibit in a laboratory at the College of Engineering.

The gear hobbing machine’s spindle is driven by a NUMDrive X servo drive and brushless motor.

The open architecture of Flexium+ CNC makes it effective for research and development projects. The human-machine interface (HMI) and loop programs for gear machining were specially created by Xu, who previously directed HMI development at HOTA Industrial Mfg. Co. Ltd., and continues to promote collaboration between the University, HOTA, Hiwin Technologies Corp., and NUM.

The new machine is an upgrade to a traditional NC gear hobbing machine, with a mechanism provided by Chang Feng Gear Machinery Co. Ltd.

Developed in line with “Industry 4.0” planning and design objectives, it can be expanded using the CNC-PC communication framework. Functions for monitoring spindle speed, temperature, motor current, and other parameters have been added. Transmission of network data, calculation of cloud data, analysis and prediction can be performed via suitably equipped tool wear monitoring systems. This promotes online compensation and product measurement to provide optimal cutting parameters and precision.

NUM Taiwan Ltd. is responsible for CNC project development, after-sales service, and training across the region, and offers a range of special machining software for gear applications, including an electronic gearbox function (five-axis synchronization transmission) and an automatic tooth alignment function for CNC gear hobbing.

“NUM has complete applications related to CNC and gear machines, backed by abundant engineering knowledge and resources,” according to Prof. Xu. “During this development, NUM was willing to help us solve problems, and to provide relevant training to help us integrate our human-machine interface with the Flexium+ controller. The company also spent considerable time on on-site commissioning, in order to let students become fully conversant with the system. NUM’s CNC systems provide exceptional expandability.

“We can easily access the information relevant to the machine and share the information via the network,” he continued. “Furthermore, the electronic gearbox system included in the Flexium+ CNC system is superior to the traditional ‘tooth matching’ gearboxes. It can achieve high precision and output without spending time on changing gears, and without the back clearance problems that occur in gears with traditional tooth matching.”

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