growth and promise of wind turbines is fueling technology development focused
on the manufacturing of larger, more precise and optimized gearing. The need
for better performance, quieter operation and higher efficiency means that the
primary goal is to limit losses, select proper sealing elements and control
other significant factors that reduce efficiency.
"What's happening right now will be the
future of the gear industry because of the number of units that will be
manufactured and installed with a main purpose of achieving longer life," says N.K.
Chinnusamy, president of Excel Gear Inc. "One way to achieve long life is new
technology and computer tools that optimize the geometry of the gears and, for
example, optimized root fillet geometry that improves both life and load
One objective is to make components
lighter, and new materials being developed will help achieve that goal. Developments
with surface finish such as REM technology and electro polishing, some of which
are being used in the racing industry, are having some real significant impact in
Chinnusamy says there are many challenges
in machining gears for wind turbines. Gears for wind turbine applications are
typically large in diameter and have wide face widths, requiring very exacting
material composition and heat-treatment processing. The gear design must be optimized
to insure low rolling resistance and long life, to minimize costs of
maintenance, down time, and repair of the gear box assemblies once they have
been commissioned in the field. Every step in the manufacturing phase of these
gears must be carefully processed, documented and controlled to achieve the
high quality, consistency, accuracy and reliability that is demanded for
operation in these environments.
The use of carburized steel for these gears
is common and the associated heat treatments and stress-relief operations have
to be exacting to minimize part distortion and growth, as well as to achieve
the proper metallurgical properties required. Often, a preheat treatment of the
forging or bar stock is necessary on large gears to minimize part distortion.
Chinnusamy says heat treatment can
cause cracks, so careful processing with predetermination of stock allowance
for grinding and final case depth must be considered. Inspection for cracks
with magnetic particle inspection and for grinding burns utilizing nital
etching is an important inspection tool. Plus, off center crown grinding of the
tooth geometry may be needed to properly distribute the load on the gear teeth.
To efficiently make gears for this
application, Chinnusamy says there are often modifications needed in the
tooling. Rigid, heavy-duty hobbing machines are needed for the coarse pitch
gears, using roughing hobs or gear milling (gashing) cutters. Likewise, coarse
pitch diamond dressing rolls and special grinding wheel abrasives are required
for the large, high-accuracy gear grinders to produce efficient, accurate
results and to prevent grinding burns and cracks.
Cutting fluids used must have the
proper viscosity, the right amount of extreme pressure additives, and must be
directed to the exact location of the work piece and cutting tool interface to
maximize results. These fluids have to be routinely sampled and adjusted for
In building the gearbox, it's also
important to establish the correct bearing clearances/preloads and proper
gearbox operating temperature that is critical to long life. Sophisticated
measuring techniques with bearing inspection gages can only insure these
results. The type and method of lubrication and proper sealing weighs heavily
on the performance of a gearbox. The verification of gearbox performance
through computerized analysis and testing is a crucial step to insuring long
"The critical factor here, as with all
similar power transmission applications, is that the gears are properly
designed and manufactured," says Chinnusamy. "The other mechanical components that make up
the assembly, along with the gearing, must be applied and designed so the
overall system performance does not have any shortcomings that could affect the
performance and life of the unit."
From home enthusiasts to workers on the manufacturing floor, everyone's imagination is captured by the potential of 3D printing. Prototyping, spare parts creation, art delivery, human organ creation, and even mass product production are all being targeted as current and potential uses for the technology.
ABI Research, a firm based in the UK that specializes in analyzing global connectivity and other emerging technologies, estimates there will be 40.9 billion active wirelessly interconnected “things” by 2020. The driving force is the usual suspect: the Internet of Things.
Just in time for Earth Day, chemicals leader Bayer MaterialScience reported from the UTECH Europe 2015 polyurethane show on programs and applications using its materials to help reduce energy usage. The company also gave an update on its CO2-based PU as that eco-friendly material comes closer to production.
Solar and wind energy are becoming more viable as a source of energy on the electric grid. For decades, the major drawback to solar and wind was that they’re temperamental. A cloudy day kills solar and a still day renders the wind turbines useless. Automation tools, however, are providing a path to help these renewables become practical.
In honor of Earth Day, the National Security Agency has launched the STEM Recycling Challenge in Maryland schools to encourage kids to think about where the garbage they throw out every day actually goes. The agency has also introduced “Dunk,” a muscular blue cartoon recycling bin wearing shorts and sneakers.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.