Q&A with Tom Ware

Product Manager, Gear Cutting Tools, at Star SU

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What types of gear tool inspection does Star SU do?

Star SU offers primary inspection of tools through the tool manufacturing process.  For most precision tools, this is a CNC inspection machine that can evaluate the results to either AGMA or DIN standards up to AAA quality. Most of these tools are shipped with a hard copy of these test results. Some special tools are inspected using high resolution vision equipment. We also provide analytical gear inspection for machine runoff for hobbing, grinding, and skiving manufacturing processes.

What is your role with Star SU as it pertains to inspection?

As product manager, a key role is to educate the customers on the impact of the tool’s quality as it relates to the generated part quality. The most important element is the mounting runout of the tool in the machine.

Why is gear tool inspection important?

It validates the manufacturing process of the tool and ensures tight tolerances are held to produce the best possible involute on the gear. For hobbing, it’s the position of the teeth along the thread of the hob. For shaper cutters, it is the position of the teeth around its mounting center. For shaving cutters, it’s the involute form.

More and more gear manufacturers expect better and better preheat treat tooth forms, putting more pressure on tool and machine producers to provide better machines and tools.

Star SU scudding cutters.

Are different types of gear tools inspected differently?

Yes, Hobs, Shaper Cutters, Scudding® Cutters, Shaving Cutters, and Milling Cutters are all inspected differently because they have different key characteristics.

What recent developments in inspection have helped advance the field? How so?

One such development has been non-contact inspection such as laser and optical evaluation. The challenge is the demand of accuracies down to a micron. Those need to be further developed.

Do you expect more advances in inspection to become a reality in the next 10 to 20 years? What kinds of advancements do you expect? What advancements are on your wish list?

Non-contact inspection will continue to develop as the processes are being improved. I also expect more on the machine in-process inspection to reduce the downtime from off machine inspection processes.