A Laser Focus on Leading-Edge Metrology

October 13, 2017

Customer demand drives Gleason’s development of breakthrough multi-sensor gear inspection technologies.


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In the world of gear inspection, there are many factors to consider in understanding the needs of designers, manufacturers, and quality professionals. These include a basic understanding of the customer’s part prints, analysis requirements, and the manufacturing processes used to produce the gears being inspected. That’s why Gleason has developed a strategy known as “Voice of the Customer,” which is at the core of its drive for technology leadership in gear metrology.

With the new 300GMSL, Gleason is delivering the industry’s first non-contact multi-sensor inspection system with both cylindrical gear and bevel gear measuring capability. (Images courtesy: Gleason)

But there is much more to take into consideration than the current state of technology. Developing a strategic vision is required in order to be poised for future success. In response, Gleason looks beyond the horizon at the manufacturing challenges that will exist for its customers as they develop new gear designs. Customers can’t achieve leadership by standing pat on existing gear designs, after all. Gears are increasingly complex, as are the manufacturing processes used to produce them, and the gearboxes they go into. This means that gear measuring must be continuously improving to address the ever-changing needs of both gear designers as well as manufacturers.

Inspection Evolution

This Voice of the Customer approach has resulted in the evolution of many new gear metrology system capabilities in recent years. Single-axis probes have given way to full 3D contact-scanning probes, for instance, and surface roughness measurement and Barkhausen noise analysis probes have been made available to evaluate the surface conditions that result from increasingly common hard finishing processes. Gleason also put more functionality at the operator’s fingertips with an “Advanced Operator Interface” that offers barcode and QR code reading, video telephony, voicemail messaging and environmental monitoring.

3D laser scan of bevel gear showing traces of cutting marks, which even if in tolerance can potentially result in negative noise characteristics.

But end users have asked for even more to help develop designs with tighter tolerances, extreme end relief conditions, and surface finishes to reduce noise. The result is found in the new 300GMSL, the industry’s first non-contact multi-sensor inspection system with both cylindrical gear and bevel gear measuring capability. By adding two indexing axes to the standard four-axis measuring machine platform, it was possible to add a laser probe to provide full flank, non-contact scanning capability for cylindrical and spiral bevel gears. Combine this with a fully integrated 3D graphics package capable of reading as well as creating CAD files and you begin to see the potential of this significant new technology.

Powerful Development Tool

This single machine platform arguably has more capability stored on it than anything inspecting gears on the market today. It is a true gear design and development tool supplied with all the capability previously offered on Gleason’s standard line of gear inspection products for use in gear labs and on the shop floor. We are just beginning to understand its full impact from the partnered customer feedback we’ve received to date, but we immediately realized the power in the 300GMSL comes from a combination of capability, flexibility, simplicity, and throughput. Here’s how:

In addition to laser scanning, 300GMSL adds other important inspection capabilities to a single platform, including conventional tactile probing as well as surface roughness measurement and Barkhausen noise analysis probes to meet the needs of increasingly common fine finishing processes.

In summary, the advantage Gleason offers with this new GMSL measuring technology is only part of the true value being brought to the market. By being part of a global team that provides the gear processing knowledge to go along with the metrology knowledge, Gleason offers equipment, tools, workholding, services, and overall value to the worldwide market of gear designers and manufacturers. 

  • Capability in the fact that customers have the ability to do the work of four machines on a single machine platform, reducing cost of ownership in less floor space consumed, less hardware to maintenance over time, and less annual calibration requirements, etc. An additional capability is the significant reverse engineering power of the new 3D graphics package that can read existing customer CAD files as well as create a CAD file for those who are unable to produce one. This has proven very valuable in initial discussions with plastic and powder metal gear manufacturers in the maintenance of their molds and dies.
  • Flexibility is key not only in this patent-pending hardware configuration, but with software as well by providing the ability to measure and display in full 3D graphics mode or convert the data into standard, traditional output charts using our GAMA user interface software. GAMA, Gleason Metrology’s Windows-based applications software, offers the flexibility and ease of programming manually or through the CAD interface available on the GMSL. Also included is an extensive language file to address the needs of the global gear community. GAMA also fully supports VDI/VDE 2120 GDE (Gear Data Exchange), which again reduces the need for duplicate programming steps, allowing gear data, tolerances, etc., to be easily transferred from machine to machine.
  • Simplicity is offered in several elements of the design hardware and software. Standard tactile probe hardware, from the probe head to the assorted probe tips and accessories are off-the-shelf from Renishaw. The GAMA applications package provides simple, icon-driven instructions to increase productivity from less experienced operators.
  • Finally, throughput is evident when you see the system operate with a single pass of the laser over the gear flank, taking hundreds of thousands of data points in a matter of two to three seconds. When you combine this power with other Gleason tools such as Gleason Closed Loop networking between the inspection system and machine tool, the ability to control today’s manufacturing processes with much more success increases greatly.

About The Author

Doug Beerck

is vice president and general manager of Gleason Metrology Systems. For more information, go to www.gleason.com.