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Gear Cutting and Grinding

Machines and Precision


Cutting Tools Developed for
Gear Manufacturing for
Automobile Transmissions
MASAKAZU NABEKURA* 1

MICHIAKI HASHITANI* 1

YUKIHISA NISHIMURA* 1

MASAKATSU FUJITA* 1

YOSHIKOTO YANASE* 1

MASANOBU MISAKI* 1

It is a never-ending theme for motorcycle and automobile manufacturers, for whom the Machine Tool Division of
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) manufactures and delivers gear cutting machines, gear grinding machines
and precision cutting tools, to strive for high precision, low cost transmission gears. This paper reports the recent
trends in the automobile industry while describing how MHI has been dealing with their needs as a manufacturer of
the machines and cutting tools for gear production.
process before heat treatment. A gear shaping machine,
however, processes workpieces such as stepped gears and
internal gears that a gear hobbing machine is unable to
process. Since they employ a generating process by a
specific number of cutting edges, several tens of microns
of tool marks remain on the gear flanks, which in turn
causes vibration and noise. To cope with this issue, a
gear shaving process improves the gear flank roughness
and finishes the gear tooth profile to a precision of microns while anticipating how the heat treatment will
strain the tooth profile and tooth trace. After heat treatment, it was usual only to finish the portion of the gear
that accommodates a bearing.

1. Gear production process


Figure 1 shows a cut-away example of an automobile
transmission. Figure 2 is a schematic of the conventional, general production processes for transmission
gears. The diagram does not show processes such as
machining keyways and oil holes and press-fitting bushes
that are not directly relevant to gear processing. Normally, a gear hobbing machine is responsible for the

2. Recent trends in gear production1


As described above, gear tooth finishing based on the
predicted distortion due to heat treatment takes place
conventionally before the heat treatment process. The
recent stringent requirements for higher precision, however, prompts processes such as gear grinding and honing
to finish the gears to take place more frequently after
heat treatment. Since sophisticated processing techniques such as gear shaving have not readily taken root
overseas, gear grinding is more often the choice.

Fig. 1 An automobile transmission

Material

Material

Turning

Turning

Gear
cutting
Gear
cutting

Heat
treatment
Shaving

Hard
turning

Complete

Hard
turning

Complete

Fig. 2 Conventional production processes for transmission gears.


Normally up to the gear hobbing process. Gears requiring high-precision call for the shaving process.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.


Technical Review Vol. 43 No. 3 (Sep. 2006)

*1 Machine Tool Division

Material

Turning

Gear
cutting

Material

Turning

Gear
cutting

Material

Turning

Gear
cutting

Heat
treatment
Gear
shaving

Hard
turning

Gear
grinding

Hard
turning

Gear
grinding

Hard
turning

Gear
honing

Complete
Gear
honing

Complete

Complete

Fig. 3 Recent production processes for transmission gears


Gears requiring high-precision call for finishing processes after heat treatment. Gears of conventional accuracy end
at the shaving process.

Figure 3 shows recent gear production processes. The


honing process improves gear flank roughness and creates a three-dimensional tooth profile. However, since
finishing after heat treatment pushes up production costs,
attempts to reduce the total cost are in progress. Since
each gear in a transmission is separately responsible for
vibration and noise, each calls for its own optimal finishing method regarding precision and cost. For example, a
gear undergoing the grinding process calls for improved
hobbing precision instead of eliminating the shaving process. Another example is that the honing process calls
for shaving before heat treatment to save tool costs while
stabilizing the pre-process precision and reducing the
machining allowance. Plastic processes such as die forging are also recent choices that increasingly employ a
monoblock forging method to produce clutch teeth among
others. The following summarizes the recent trends in
transmission gear production.
(1) Employing dry cutting
To improve productivity of gear cutting by high
speed cutting.
To reduce tool costs by making tool life longer.
To reduce cutting oil costs by employing dry cutting.
(2) Skipping shaving process
To skip the shaving process if tooth grinding comes
after heat treatment.
(3) Employing a monoblock forging process for clutch
teeth
To use plastic processes (eliminating machine cutting processes).
To make gears compact.
(4) Developing gear production overseas and operators
being less skilled
To call for machine tools with ease of operation and
maintenance.
To enhance and improve operator support software
and pre-services.
(5) Employing optimal processes for workpieces
To provide various machine tools to satisfy each
method of processing.

environmentally friendly but also reduces costs. To


this end, MHI has developed the world's first dry gear
cutting system. 2 More specifically, the development
of cutters protected by Super Dry Coating as well as
gear hobbing machines suitable for dry cutting has
realized dry gear hobbing. MHI's gear shaper also
employs the dry cutting method.
During hob cutting, the tip of the hob cutter reaches
a high temperature which makes it wear quickly. Hob
cutters protected with Super Dry Coating have improved thermal strength. Since this enables the cutting
speed to be increased from the conventional 100 to 120
m-- min-1 to as high as 200 m-- min -1 while suppressing
tool tip wear to double the tool life, productivity has
improved considerably.
Figure 4 compares the changes in the coat compositions between Super Dry Coating and the conventional
TiN coating. When exposed to high temperatures, the
TiN coating has its Ti oxidized and is transformed into
a brittle structure. Super Dry Coating, on the other
hand, is considered to have its aluminum selectively
oxidized to form a strong, hard layer.
Recently, MHI has developed the Super Dry II Coating with its high temperature oxidization
characteristics enhanced even further to realize a
cutting speed as high as 250 m-- min-1. The Super Dry
II Coating also demonstrates high anti-oxidization
characteristics at the high temperature of 1,200oC.

.
..
.
.
.
.
.
.

O
50
Ti
N
0

3. Precision cutting tools


(1) Coating for dry cutting
Getting rid of coolant from workshops is not only

100
Ti oxide

Composition (%)

Composition (%)

100

Al oxide

50

N
AI
O Ti

Depth from surface

Depth from surface

TiN coat (thickness

TiAlN coat (thickness

Fig. 4 Comparison of coat compositions


o
800 C, in atmosphere, maintained for 5 hours

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.


Technical Review Vol. 43 No. 3 (Sep. 2006)

Quantity machined/cutter
re-sharpening

(2) Carbide hob cutters for finishing after heat treatment


Finishing by a carbide hob cutters is gaining acceptance for small diameter gears such as steering
pinions because they are difficult to process on a gear
grinding machine after heat treatment due to the interference of the grinding wheel. MHI offers carbide
hob cutters for finishing that are a combination of
ultra-fine particles, carbide alloy and a coating.
(3) Surface-treated shaving cutters
The shaving process accounts for the most of the
gear finishing process. Surface treatment raises the
surface hardness of the shaving cutter to extend the
tool life which in turn reduces the tool cost. Combined with the high rigidity design that takes the
elastic deformation of teeth into account, the tool life
Fig. 5
actually improves 1.2 to 2 times (Fig.
5).

5 080

6 000
4 280

5 000
4 000

2 440

3 000
2 000
1 000
0

Other make
of cutter

High-rigidity High-rigidity design


design cutter cutter + super coat

Fig. 5 Improving life of shaving cutters

sures against noise.


(3) Improving ease of operation and maintenance
Improvement in operator support systems and measures against operators being less skilled.
(4) Unification of line concept
Establishing a unified, total concept from hobbing
machines, gear shapers, shaving machines, gear
grinding machines to cylindrical grinding machines.
(5) Compatible with flexible production
Organizing major units into packages and modules
to make line configuration and re-configuration easy.
These developments have involved striving for customer satisfaction and implementation of CFT activities
comprising the marketing, design, assembly and service
functions. The standard specifications incorporate past
complaints and defects, customers' requirements and
specifications in an organized manner.
The development design thoroughly mobilized the 3DCAD system while a full design review for ease of
operation and better workability took place in addition
to FEM analysis. MHI also strives to develop servo technology that has resulted in the NC guide gear shaper ST
series, synchronous shaving machines and synchronous
honing machines. Figure 6 lists MHI's lineup of gear

4. E series gear cutting and grinding machines


To answer the needs of the automobile industry as
described in Section 2 of this paper, MHI has integrated
the gear cutting and grinding machines such as gear
hobbing, gear shaping and gear shaving machines into
the E series along with the development of cutting tools.
The newly developed ZE series of gear grinding machines
for the generating process are also available. The letter
"E" of the E series stands for being ecological, economic
and excellent. The following concepts are the basis of
the developments.
(1) Global standard
Clearly defining the standard specifications compatible with development of production overseas.
(2) Thorough measures for energy saving and the environment
Standardization of energy-saving circuits and mea-

Gear production process


Lathe

Broach

Hobbing
machine

Gear shaping
machine

Chamfering Shaving
Heat
machine
machine treatment

Full dry cut


GE15A
GE20A
GE25A
GD10
Machine
tools

SE25A

ME20

GT06R (Hobbing +
Chamfering + Rolling)

Cylindrical
grinding machine

Gear
grinding machine

Production cylindrical
grinding machine

Generating gear
grinding machine

PD32

ZE15A

PD23

ZE24A

General-purpose
cylindrical grinding
machine

Form gear
grinding machine

Synchronous gear
shaving machine

Helical guide-less
gear shaping
machine

SD25

ST25

RD23

ZG400

SC40

ST40

RD32

ZG1000

RC45

Shaving cutter
grinding machine

GD30

FS30A

GD50
GB63

SC63

GB100

SC100

Synchronous gear
honing machine

FE30A

SD15

GD20

Gear
honing machine

ZS25A

ZA30A
GBH18
Tools

Spline
broach

Shaving
cutter

Fig. 6 Lineup of MHI's gear processing machines and gear cutters

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.


Technical Review Vol. 43 No. 3 (Sep. 2006)

integration type shown in Fig. 7 that can later hook


up with the modular-designed gantry loader with a
narrowed width.
This machine is capable of machining a workpiece
as shown in Fig. 8 at a cutting speed of 250 m-- min -1
for a cycle time of 14.3 seconds, reducing the cost by
approximately 45%. Figure 9 shows the benefits of
introducing this machine. If equipped with a coolant
unit, the machine becomes capable of conventional wet
cutting.
4.2 Dry cutting gear shaper SE25A
Figure 10 shows the newly developed E series gear
shaper model SE25A. With the structure around the
spindle redesigned for high-speed dry cutting, the machine improves the maximum spindle stroke speed from
1,500 min-1 to 1,800 min-1 and the cutting speed from 90
m-- min -1 to 130 m-- min -1 . To suppress vibration during
high-speed cutting, which is an issue with the gear
shaper because of the reciprocating motion of the cutter,
the SE25A has a new model balancer shaft. The arrangement successfully suppresses the vibration during
high-speed cutting to 1/6 or less of conventional models.

processing machines. By manufacturing and marketing


gear processing machines such as gear hobbing, shaping
and shaving machines, various gear grinding machines,
cylindrical grinding machines and cutting tools and even
commercially producing actual gears in quantity, MHI
is a total gear processing system manufacturer unparalleled in the world.
4.1 GE series gear hobbing machines compatible with
dry cutting
To be compatible with dry cutting, the E series gear
hobbing machines incorporate the following features.
(1) Discharging chips: A cover provided in the machine
prevents chips from scattering. A steeply sloped cover
made of stainless steel smoothly discharges chips out
of the machine.
(2) High-speed operation: Adopting a spindle and table
spindle structure compatible with a cutting speed of
250 m-- min-1.
(3) Heavy cutting: Improving the machine rigidity and
employing large-capacity spindle motors.
The GE15A is available for choice in either the
standard type with a conventional layout or the line-

Workpiece specifications
1.4
Module

Gantry loader
Control box
installed on
left side of
machine lessens
machine width.

Gantry loader
can be installed later.

Control box

34
Number of teeth
25 mm
Face width
o
17.5
Pressure angle
o
Helix angle
22.5 RH
Tool specifications
Type
Solid hob
Outside diameter
58 mm
Starts
4
Flute
16
Coating
Machining parameters
Machining method
Climb cut
Hob rotational speed
1 370 min-1
Cutting speed
250 m/min
Axial feed rate
2.0 mm/rev
Cycle time
14.3 s

Index ration compared with conventional machine

Fig. 7 General view of GE15A


(compatible for line integration)

Electricity
cost

0.9
0.8

Cutting tool cost:


40 % reduction
Coolant cost:
100 % reduction
Electricity cost:
33 % reduction

0.09
Coolant
cost

0.6

0.55

0.5

0.3
0.2

After machining

45% reduction

1
0.06

0.7

0.4

Before machining

Fig. 8 Actual processing data

Cutting
tool cost
0.85

Electricity
cost 0.04
Coolant Cutting
cost 0
tool cost
0.51

0.1

Fig. 10 General view of gear shaper


model SE25

0
Conventional machine

GE hobbing machine

Fig. 9 Case example: Benefits of introducing dry cutting

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.


Technical Review Vol. 43 No. 3 (Sep. 2006)

Stroke width 21 mm, module 2.5, diameter 75 mm, spur gear


Stroke speed 760/1 200 min-1, cutting speed 50/80 m-min-1
Cycle time 49 seconds (conventional machine 73 seconds, production efficiency improvement 1.5 times)
Tooth profile error
500X
ROOT
FF
R1
R2
R3
R4

4
4
4
4

MEAN 3

TIP
FFA
FA
4
0
3
2
4
0
4
4
2
1

BIAS

FF: F

total profile
deviation

4.0X
ROOT
FF

L1

L2

L3

10

L4

10

MEAN 0

TIP
FFA
FA
3
7
3
6
3
9
3
8
3
7

BIAS

FA: FH profile
slope deviation

Tooth lead error

JIS class N6
BOTTOM
FQ
R1
R2
R3
R4

4
4
4
4

BIAS

FQ: F

profile form
deviation

BOTTOM

total helix
deviation

JIS class N4

4.0X

FH
FQA
4
1
4
2
3
2
4
2
4
2

MEAN 4

FFA: FF

500X
TIP

FQ
L1

L2

L3

L4

MEAN 1
BIAS

FH: FH helix slope


deviation

TIP

FH
FQA
-3
2
2
1
1
2
-1
2
0
1
4

FQA: FF helix form


deviation

Fig. 11 Example of machining by SE25A

Workpiece specifications
2.5

Module

OBD diviation in continuously


dry machining

Machining parameters
Stroke speed
(min-1)

40

600/1 000

Cp=3.13

20

Cutting speed
(m-min-1)

Number of teeth

2.8

Diameter

(mm)

75

Face width (mm)

15

Radial feed
(mm/str)

0.009/0.01

Spur gear

Cycle time

90s

Helix angle

30

40/66

Circumferential feed 2.618/1.1122


(mm/str)

10
0
-10
-20
-30
-40

10 15 20 25 30 35 40
Quantity

Fig. 12 OBD variation at continuously cutting

Figures 1
1 and 12 show case examples of machining
11
by SE25A. Restricting vibration results in stable, favorable machining accuracy. The thermal deformation that
could be a problem with dry cutting remains low while
the over ball diameter during continuous machining is
also stable. As with the GE15A, the SE25A is also capable of both dry and wet cutting.
4.3 Gear shaving machine FE30A
Figure 13 shows the newly developed model FE30A.
Reviewing the column and saddle structures using FEM
analysis improved their rigidity. The operation panel
has a large color graphics display to ensure easier operation and maintenance. The feature for monitoring
the spindle load currents helps to establish the machining parameters. In addition, data entry on the NC
screens alone allows tapers and the crowning amount to
be corrected. Figures 14 and 15 illustrate the principle
and actual data samples, respectively.
4.4 Gear grinding machines
Grinding gears after heat treatment to reduce vibration
and noise from transmission gears and improve final accuracy is drawing attention. As the E series gear grinding
machines, MHI has developed models ZE15A/24A3 to meet
these needs. These machines have the following features.

Fig. 13 General view of FE30A

(1) Use of threaded, general grinding wheels and the shift


grinding method realizes stable, high precision grinding and reduces the tool cost.
(2) Use of built-in motors on the grinding and table
spindles realizes high-speed, high-precision grinding.
(3) With the dresser mounted on the ring loader, dressing while being clamped by the Hirth coupling realizes
high precision dressing on the machine.
(4) Use of the standard 8-axis NC system and various
machining support software offers ease of operation
and maintenance.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
Technical Review Vol. 43 No. 3 (Sep. 2006)

Face width

Face width

Cutter

Cutter face

Distance
between d'
centers

Taper

Workpiece

Workpiece
width

c
d
d'

b'
b

b'
Face width

c'

a'

Face width

Conventional
crowning method

With table at extreme left end

Guide rail
With table at center

Center of oscillation
Allowable table feed length
With table at extreme right end

Fig. 14 Taper/crowning principle

Machining example

Data
entry
(mm)

A simple data entry on the operation display can revise crowning


and taper/crowning.
Zero setting

Tooth trace correction

Crowning

Taper/crowning

Amount of crowning

0.0

0.0

0.03

0.03

Axis A compensation

0.0

0.02
0.0

0.0

0.0
0.02

Amount of taper

0.0

0.0

Tooth trace accuracy

Fig. 15 Revised of taper and crowning

4.5 High-speed, high-precision synchronization


Placing emphasis on developing a high-speed, highprecision synchronous system, MHI has been the world
leader in developing the NC guide gear shapers and synchronous shaving machines.
(1) NC guide gear shaper
When machining a helical gear, a gear shaper uses
a device called a guide to make the cutter have a spiral motion along the tooth trace. Since a dedicated
guide that matches the lead of each cutter is necessary, a skilled operator has to change the guides when
using cutters with different leads. MHI's ST series
gear shapers numerically control the spiral motion.
Figure 19 illustrates the guide structure.
These machines are capable of machining a twostep gear with different helix angles by a single
chucking as shown in Fig. 20
20.
(2) Synchronous gear shaving machine
In general, a gear shaving machine drives the cutter while the workpiece trails it. With no control
exercised over the workpiece in its direction of rotation, conventional shaving machines are unable to

Fig. 16 Gear grinding machine model ZE15A

While an operator conventionally has to fine tune the


dresser to correct the pressure angle of a gear tooth, these
machines, as shown in Fig. 18
18, only require data entry
on the NC screens to easily correct the gear tooth pressure angle, which in turn contributes to a considerable
improvement in workability and stable gear quality.
Figures 16 and 17 show the general machine view and
an example of grinding parameters, respectively.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.


Technical Review Vol. 43 No. 3 (Sep. 2006)

Grinding wheel specifications


Outside diameter 300 mm
Number of threads 3
Overall length 125 mm

Gear specifications
o
Module 3, number of teeth 31, pressure angle 20 ,
helix angle 20o (RH), outside diameter 105 mm, face witdth 40 mm

Dressing parameters
Grinding wheel revolution speed 70 min-1
Dresser revolution speed 3 260 min-1
Dressing time: 3 minutes 43 seconds
Tooth profile error

Grinding parameters
Grinding wheel revolution speed 2 580/3 800 min-1,
axial feed 0.8/0.4 mm/rev,
radial depth of cut 0.25/0.8 mm, climb/conventional
Tooth lead error

JIS class N1

500X
ROOT
MAX MIN
FQ

TIP
FH
FQA

4.0X
ROOT
MAX MIN
FQ

TIP

0
5

-2
5

5
L1

0
6

5
R2

0
5

-2
5

5
L2

0
6

1
5

1
1

5
R3

0
5

-1
5

5
L3

0
6

2
5

1
1

4
R4

0
5

0
5

5
L4

0
6

2
5

5 0
MEAN 5

-1
5

5 0
MEAN 6

1
5

-1
2

1
1

-1
1

-1
1
0
1
MEAN 1

L1

0
R2

0
2

1
-1

L2

1
R3

0
2

2
-1

L3

2
R4

0
2

2
-1

1
MEAN
BIAS
0

0
2

2
-1

L4

1
1
2

0
BIAS

FH
FQA

TOP

5
R1

1
1

2
-2

TOP

JIS class N1

1.0X
BOTTOM
MAX MIN
FQ

FH
FQA
1
5

-1
1

0
2

BOTTOM
MAX MIN
FQ

FH
FQA

2
R1

500X

Cycle time:
78 seconds

BIAS

BIAS

Fig. 17 Example of gear grinding by ZE15A

Correction right + 3/left +1

0.5

Standard (right -2.7/left -0.9

Correction right -10/left -10

Right 0.5

Right -14
-14.0

-2.7
Aiming at
-2.7-10=-12.7

Aiming at
-2.7+3=0.3

0.5

m)

Left 0.5

Left -12.3

-0.9

Aiming at
-0.9+1=0.1

-12.3

Aiming at
-0.9-10=-10.9

Fig. 18 Pressure angle correction


Conventional
machine

Spindle motor
Crank

Crank

ST25CNC
Spindle motor

Helical guide (male)


Helical guide (female)

Spindle

Pinion cutter

Servomotor
for helix
angle control

Fig. 19 Illustrated explanation of guide structure

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.


Technical Review Vol. 43 No. 3 (Sep. 2006)

(1) Accuracy distribution after hobbing


10
: L cumulative pitch
: R cumulative pitch
: Tooth run-out

8
6
4
2
0

10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100

(2) Accuracy after conventional gear shaving with workpiece trailing


12
10
8
6
4
2

Fig.20 Machining two-step gears

improve the pitch accuracy. This has moved MHI to


develop the synchronous gear shaving machine model
FS30A. 4 Figure 21 shows how much this machine
improves the pitch accuracy. While the synchronous
shaving finishes the teeth with the workpiece rotating in one direction only, the conventional machines
have to change the cutter rotation between the forward and reverse directions. Eliminating the
switching between the two directions contributes to
reducing the cycle time. In addition, since the synchronous control maintains the correct positional
relationships between the cutter and the workpiece,
the cutter can copy its tooth profile correctly on the
workpiece. It has been reported that this makes the
tool life control easy and has a favorable effect on extending the tool life.

10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
Almost no pitch accuracy improvement.

(3) Accuracy after synchronous gear shaving


14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 100
Pitch accuracy improves.

Fig. 21 Improvement in pitch accuracy by synchronous gear


shaving machine

5. Conclusions
As a comprehensive manufacturer of gear processing
systems producing both machine tools and cutting tools,
MHI has developed the dry cutting system, E series
machine gear grinding machines, among others, while
anticipating the future trends of the automobile industry. While continuing to develop product systems that
anticipate the need of customers, MHI is also willing to
offer the comprehensive services including remote monitoring of production lines, implementation of pre-services
and enhancing production support systems.
References
(1) Hashitani, Dry Cutting System and Gear Finishing Process,
Japan Society for Abrasive Technology Special Symposium
2004.1.19
(2) Kage et al., Dry Hobbing of Gear, Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers Mechanical Engineering Congress Review 2003
VIII p.177
(3) Hashitani et al., ZE15A Gear Grinding Machine for economical hard gear finishing of quiet, small gears, Mitsubishi Heavy
Industries Technical Review Vol.42 No.2 (2005)
(4) Nabekura et al., The Synchronous Gear Shaving Machine
Aimed at Low-Noise Gear, Mitsubishi Juko Giho Vol. 39 No.4
(2002)

Masakazu Nabekura

Michiaki Hashitani

Masakatsu Fujita

Yoshikoto Yanase

Yukihisa Nishimura

Masanobu Misaki

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.


Technical Review Vol. 43 No. 3 (Sep. 2006)