You recently returned from IMTS. What kind of reactions did you get from attendees visiting Nidec (formerly Mitsubishi Machine Tool Division)?
We saw many people that were just happy to be out; however, many were enthused to see the new technology, and we used the time during the pandemic to develop these new technologies and processes. The attendance was very good considering the recent situation. We are seeing many companies and people with real needs and active projects, and I am certain that they will all be contacting us in the future.
One of the machines Nidec had on display at IMTS was the HS series. What makes the HS series a game changer?
The hobbing process is responsible for most of the green cutting in the gearing world. The HS model really takes hobbing to the next level. We built this machine on a solid casting for stiffness, rigidity, and thermal stability. We are using absolute encoders and linear scales on every axis while each spindle is outfitted with a very high-speed direct drive motor. At the show, we were showing dry cutting with a carbide hob running at 700 surface-feet per minute. This is exceptionally fast.
Most carbide applications are between 300 and 450 surface-feet per minute. In current testing in Japan, we are using this machine to test speeds up to 1,500 surface-feet per minute. These are speeds that have never been seen before in the market. Nidec is producing the next level of productivity and quality in gear hobbing,
What other machine models offered by Nidec should the industry be on the lookout for?
I feel that our ZI20A internal gear grinder is the next big thing that you are going to see in the market. Our ZI20A is the only internal gear grinder that uses a generating method for finishing the gear. What this means for the customer is faster and more accurate production than what you will find in the world of honing or in the world of form grinding. As you know, EV applications are subject to very rigid NVH testing, and the ZI20A is able to hard finish these internal ring gears and correct the pitch errors, which drive the NVH issues. We had been involved in a study with FEV, and it was determined that pitch error was the leading cause of NVH issues in electric vehicles. Our machine is able to eliminate this error and to produce a much quieter, more robust gear. The flexibility of this machine also makes it possible to grind external gears, where clearance is an issue. The flexibility this machine offers makes it possible to grind internal and external gearing, making it a game changer.
Anything else about these machines that make them unique among the competition?
As we discussed, the HS series is pushing the envelope in a very mature process, and — in a way — making it new again, where our competition does not appear to be moving forward in this technology. We know that Nidec is the leader in hobbing technology globally. The ZI20A was designed from the ground up to be exceptionally thermally stable and robust. We combine this machine design with the use of the state-of-the-art abrasive tooling to perform this internal grinding. It is a CBN Dressable wheel, and the special geometry required to complete this process has been patented. It just does an outstanding job making the process less expensive and faster than one might think, while producing an excellent gear.
What’s been the industry reaction to some of Nidec’s newer offerings?
The market is excited about our new technologies and products. We will continue demonstrating our technology at exhibitions like IMTS, AMB, and JIMTOF, as well as at our facility or the customer’s facility to show we are pushing to develop and launch top level technologies to the gear market. Nidec is aggressive, and I know you are going to see many more innovative Nidec products introduced to the market that offer cutting edge technologies. Nidec is a technology company; we operate at an exceptionally high level, and people are excited to see it.
Anything else on the horizon that Nidec is working on that you’d like to share?
We have developed a cut-chamfer machine. I know a few others also have it. The Nidec model is the CF260, and it will debut at the JIMTOF show in November. It has been cutting parts for a few months and will be set up for that show. There are several other initiatives underway but that are not ready for release yet. I can tell you, based on our discussions and based on what we have been seeing, EV is becoming a bigger part of the market, and you can be sure that hard gear finishing will take a prominent role in our future developments. I really can’t tip our hand, but I can tell you hard gear finishing is the future.
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