NUM (NUM Taiwan Ltd) and Taiwan’s Feng Chia University have jointly developed an intelligent CNC gear hobbing machine with an advanced electronic gearbox that completely eliminates the time overheads of changing mechanical gears on traditional machine tools.
Development of the machine began in 2014, under the initiative of Professor Ruihong Xu, who works for the Bachelor’s Program in Precision System Design at the College of Engineering in Feng Chia University. Professor Xu is responsible for a number of industry-university collaborative research and development projects at the university.
Following detailed discussions between NUM and Professor Xu about the potential machine control possibilities of its latest Flexium+ CNC system – which offers an advanced precision electronic gearbox – the company donated a series of CNC controllers to the university in 2014. With the assistance of other providers, the intelligent CNC gear hobbing machine, which utilises five-axis electronic gear synchronisation techniques, is now complete. It is currently being exhibited in the first floor laboratory of Feng Chia University’s College of Engineering.
The open architecture of NUM’s Flexium+ CNC makes it an ideal platform for research and development projects such as this. The human-machine interface (HMI), together with loop programs for gear machining, have been specially created by Professor Xu, who was previously in charge of HMI development at HOTA Industrial Mfg. Co., Ltd. He continues to foster tight collaboration between the university, HOTA, Hiwin Technologies Corp. and NUM.
The new intelligent gear hobbing machine is based on a significant upgrade to a traditional NC gear hobbing machine that featured a mechanism provided by Chang Feng Gear Machinery Co. Ltd. Developed under the Industry 4.0 planning and design concept, it offers powerful expansion capabilities through use of a CNC-PC communication framework. Facilities for monitoring parameters such as spindle speed, temperature and motor current 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 facilitates online compensation and product measurement, to provide optimal cutting parameters and precision.
Founded in 2008, NUM Taiwan Ltd. is a subsidiary of NUM, and is based in Taichung, where many machine factories are located. NUM Taiwan Ltd. is responsible for businesses throughout south-east Asia, Korea and Japan, including CNC project development, after-sales service, education, and training. The company offers a variety of special machining software for gear applications, including an electronic gearbox function (five-axis synchronisation transmission) and an automatic tooth alignment function, which are essential for CNC gear hobbing applications. NUM Taiwan also actively supports Professor Xu in the development of teaching aids for PLC programming, parameter acquisition and machine commissioning.
According to Professor Xu, “NUM has complete applications related to CNC and gear machines, backed by abundant engineering knowledge and resources. 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. 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.”