Federal Broach and Machine offers a complete selection of custom broaching machines, broach-cutting tools, and gear-cutting tools engineered to meet the industry’s most challenging production demands.

When a company gets so good at making an essential product that other companies take notice, it only reinforces the need of that company’s unique place in a competitive industry.

Federal Broach’s innovative strides in doing helical broaching put the company on the map, and, serendipitously, gained the attention of Mitsubishi Heavy Industrial (MHI), which brought Federal Broach under its umbrella in 2012. In 2022, the machine tool group of Mitsubishi was purchased by NIDEC and became NIDEC Machine Tool Corporation.

“There are only a few players around the world that do helical broaching, and that’s actually what prompted MHI to purchase Federal Broach,” said Ken Kernen, president of Federal Broach. “They had the gear-cutting tool side of it from the hobs, shaper cutters, and the shavers and those type of gear-cutting tools, but they didn’t have broaching, so that rounded out their portfolio.”

Federal Broach offers multiple types of broach tools, as well as sharpening and recoating of broaches and all varieties of gear-cutting tools. (Courtesy: Federal Broach)

A spectrum of services

In addition to helical broaching, Federal Broach also offers a myriad of other services to the gear-manufacturing industry, according to Kernen.

“For the gear industry, we can offer a turnkey operation,” he said. “With our NIDEC Machine Tool family of companies, we can integrate an entire production line. Federal Broach offers multiple types of broach tools, as well as sharpening and recoating of broaches and all varieties of gear-cutting tools. Broaches, hobs, shapers, skiving tools, shave tools, you name it, both as new tools and sharpening and recoating. If it’s gear manufacturing, we can offer it at Federal.”

Kernen noted that Federal Broach offers production broaching to support short- or long-term needs of customers. Along with those services, Federal Broach can also supply the machinery that goes along with it.

“We actually started building helical broach machines probably in the early- to mid-’90s before we actually got into the cutting tools,” he said. “GM pushed us in that direction. They said, ‘If you’re going to build the machines, you’re going to build the tools.’ So now, we offer broach machines, broach tools, as well as other gear-cutting machines such as hobbers in conjunction with NIDEC Machine Tool America. I’ve been on the broach side for the last 34 years, and our expansion to all types of gear cutting tools is very exciting.”

NIDEC’s expertise

That innovation in gear cutting is what piqued the interest of NIDEC back when it was MHI, according to Kenichiro Kudo, vice president of sales, cutting tools, with NIDEC.

“Since we got together with Federal Broach as Mitsubishi back in 2012, we promoted cutting tools and cutting solutions with machines to the industry,” he said. “Basically, those are the job-shop machines, but also, we achieved technologies in OEMs as well. This provided us the firm business to re-sharpen and re-coat as well. The latest news from us is that we are launching  a second coating facility this spring.”

Being under the NIDEC umbrella has allowed Federal Broach to continue offering its customers what it does best: finely engineered products and machines for the gearing industry, according to Kernen.

“Everything we do is considered an engineered product,” he said. “It’s all custom engineered from the part print a customer sends us. We don’t get into a stock item per se; everything’s engineered — from our machines right up to through the cutting tools themselves. It’s custom from the ground up.”

Federal Broach offers production broaching to support short- or long-term needs of customers. (Courtesy: Federal Broach)

Offering the complete package

Through NIDEC, Federal Broach can offer complete packages to its customers, according to Kudo.

“We are proving our quality, deliveries, and of course we have extensive experience and capability for proposing, troubleshooting, or developing the process,” he said. “For example, NIDEC Federal Broach company has complete packages for ring gear manufacturing. We also have shapers; we have broaching; we have grinding for internal gears. We have complete packages for the customer. Federal Broach also has production machines in house, so we can provide testing and preliminary production or supporting production to the customer as well.”

Kernen also said Federal Broach can perform prototyping for the bigger OEMs.

“The OEMs will come to us when they’re developing a new gearbox or new gears,” he said. “We’ll build the tooling and run the parts. We have a fully integrated gear lab for inspection at Federal and, like I say, one of the things that we’re proud of at Federal Broach is our service. Our aftersales service is one of the things that our customers really compliment us on. We try to go the extra mile for the customer.”

Federal Broach has made many strides in the industry since original owner Mike Martin began sharpening broaches in his garage in 1952. (Courtesy: Federal Broach)

Finding new ways to meet customers’ needs

As broaching has waned somewhat in the industry, Kernen pointed out that his company has continued to find ways to make it a go-to process for gear-manufacturing needs.

“A lot of things that have been broached have gone other ways to make way for more efficient, cheaper machining processes,” he said. “We’ve evolved helical broaching while developing better ways to produce a gear with broaching.”

Having the power of NIDEC behind Federal Broach has enabled the company to keep expanding and honing its expertise for gear manufacturing, according to Kudo.

“We are pleased to share our experiences and technologies to the customer, and thanks to the whole power of NIDEC, we can share our experiences from R&D,” he said.

Innovation from NIDEC can assist with improving NVH performance or meeting the challenge of new material production with a pre-hardened steel, according to Kudo. Gear requirements are constantly changing, which can affect the accuracy of the cutter as well. That involves developing tighter tolerances with broach cutting or gear cutting but also creating technology that can be offered at a reasonable price and range in real time.

“We are always working with both sides of development and production with a good conversation with the customer,” he said.

Kernen agreed.

“If a customer approaches us with a challenging product or a challenging design, we can leverage our organization,” he said. “We have facilities in Japan as well as India, and we can approach it through that larger group.”

That ability to branch out over multiple areas of expertise can be invaluable for both the company and its customer, according to Kernen.

“Maybe it’s something that we haven’t seen before, but our counterparts in India or Japan may have experience with it,” he said. “That gives us better insight into what to offer the customer.”

Having the power of NIDEC Machine Tool Corporation behind Federal Broach has enabled the company to expand and hone its gear-manufacturing expertise. (Courtesy: Federal Broach)

Staying competitive

Federal Broach has made many strides in the industry since original owner Mike Martin began sharpening broaches in his garage in 1952. The company moved on from sharpening broaches to making new tools in the 1970s, and later began building broaching machines.

During the time that passed, Federal Broach launched its electromechanical broaching machine in 2002, according to Kernen.

“That was a very pivotal time in Federal Broach’s history,” he said. “With that machine, we pretty much captured the market. Prior to that, in the ’90s, we worked on blind spline broaching. We didn’t develop it, but we came on board with it, and that also was a turning point in the company. But the real turning point was getting into the helical broaching market. At the time that we entered the market, there were only a couple players, and it’s been one of our finer moments. It grew us from a small, family-owned broaching manufacturer into a global player.”

Looking to the future

Kernen said Federal Broach doesn’t plan to rest on its laurels as the EV market is expected to present the gear industry with some unique challenges — challenges Kernen is ready to tackle. For example, those challenges could include internal ring gear manufacturing, which would use broaching methods to produce a rough semi-finished process while also adding internal grinding for the gears.

“Customers could come to us with a tighter tolerance gear for noise issues, and we would be able to offer them a solution,” he said. “I really see that as our future in the business. For example, we have developed hard broaching, which allows the customer to bring us a heat-treated part, and we can broach it with a carbide broach and get heat-treat distortion out. That’s becoming more of a popular item, so those two avenues are where I really see Federal in the future.”

Being able to have access to NIDEC’s expertise will also aid in Federal Broach’s successfully meeting any challenges the industry can throw at it, according to Kudo.

“With world expansion and a variation of customers and product mix, we can definitely assist the customer with the value Federal Broach offers,” he said. “Customers can ask for things, and we can answer. We can be more productive, and we can supply our capabilities to the customer.”

And to that end, Kernen reiterated the help Federal Broach’s expertise will be able to offer to the evolving gear-manufacturing market.

“As the broaching market narrows, Federal is on the leading edge of new technology in gear manufacturing and broaching,” he said. “We offer the whole package. Really, the thing is, Federal’s on the leading edge, and we want to try and stay there.” 

MORE INFO  www.federalbroach.com