Gear Hobbing with Maximum Flexibility

May 18, 2023
Three different spindle configurations allow the eight-axis AF160 CNC machine to produce various gears and worm screws automotive, aerospace, aircraft, gearbox, medical, and robotics manufacturing.

AFFOLTER GROUP developed the AF160 to maximize versatility for gear cutting. “The AF160 is designed for high-precision manufacturers that need flexibility and efficiency,” explained Vincent Affolter, managing director of the family-owned enterprise. “With its eight axes, sophisticated automation solutions, and an innovative quick-change system, the machine provides exactly that.”

3 gear-cutting configurations. With the optional quick-change system, machine operators can switch from one configuration to the next in only 30 minutes.

In configuration I, both the C axis and the C’ prime axis are equipped with driven spindles. This set-up leads to higher-quality cutting, more torque, and more rigidity. And the set-up offers the A axis +/- 50° swing. “This configuration is ideal for the production of spur, helical, bevel, crowned and face gears,” Affolter reported.

With a tailstock on axis C and a spindle on C’ prime – configuration II – the operator gains more flexibility. The A axis can move from -50° to +115°, making worm milling possible. This configuration also can be used for all gear types mentioned above.

In configuration III, the C axis remains empty, and the C’ prime axis is equipped with a driven spindle. “This configuration is designed for the power skiving of internal gears. The production of face gears is possible, too,” according to Vincent Affolter.

Telescopic part loader. The AF72 part loader was specifically designed for the AF160. With a double-gripper system for parallel loading and unloading, plus a telescopic arm, different configurations depending on the volume, product, and application can be chosen for an easy and efficient loading of the parts.

The AF72 can be equipped with up to five feeding rails, so it can preload more parts as the machine works autonomously for more than 24 hours, with a proper configuration. “The telescopic arm ensures that the working area in the machine remains clear. The arm retracts after loading the parts, giving the operator a good view of the processes during machining,” Affolter said.

Options for max. flexibility. The AF160 is configurable for any application. Hobbing options include skiving by sensor detection, integrating the deburring process into the gear production with the addition of the AF54 deburring unit, as well as part orientation and part presence control.

Different clamping systems, customizable coolant systems, and chip extraction conveyors are other options.

User friendliness is key, according to the developers. The Pegasus state-of-the-art digital CNC control ensures fast regulation and integrates IoT. “The intuitive Pegasus controls all machine axes as well as a multitude of peripherals for various options and automation,” Affolter emphasized. Programming is simple, intuitive, and user-friendly with a 19-inch touch screen. Data can be shared on the cloud, streamlining after-sales service support and preventive maintenance, and therefore minimizing downtimes. Software updates can be done remotely.

Learn more at