Q&A with Scott Richards

Vice president at James Engineering


What does James Engineering do for the gear-manufacturing industry?

James Engineering manufactures state-of-the-art deburring machines. These machines range from simple manual machines to cutting-edge, high-tech CNC-like systems called the MAX Systems™. Our systems can handle parts from 1/16” diameter to parts in excess of 300”. With our MAX Systems, we now can go far beyond traditional gear deburring. We can process the entire part, gear, gearboxes, valves, and much more. We can remove burrs, create chamfers and radius’, brush the gear, deburr snap rings, brush splines, and remove micro-scratches all in one operation. Not every customer needs this, but the ability is there now.

Why is manual deburring and chamfering an arduous task?

The challenge with manual deburring is interesting. Deburring techs, hand-deburring parts, are typically entry level people, paid bottom dollar. What’s interesting about that is that these people are working with a finished part, and their efforts can make that part awesome or garbage in a few seconds.

Hand deburring is fraught with scrap. If the person partied too hard last night because their team won the Super Bowl, you may not want them deburring your parts the next day. Maybe there is no party, maybe the person is great, but every now and then, they slip.

I have a customer who recently took a machine offline to do some work to it. During that time, they had to hand deburr parts. The deburr tech missed a tooth on a few gears; they got into the field, and now there is a ton of trouble with the end user having failures.

Getting repeatable chamfers by hand is next to impossible. By hand you can maybe hold ±0.010” if you’re good, but doing any better is very hard.

Hand deburring is extremely time consuming. We have countless examples where hand deburring a part takes minutes or hours. Our longest cycle times are typically around 45 seconds. Some of the prismatic parts we deburr now take one to two days to hand deburr and our MAX can do them in a couple hours.

What has James Engineering developed to help ease deburring and chamfering jobs?

Our manual machines have been the best machines on the market since the mid-’80s when they were introduced, but if you want to be less operator dependent, then you need to look at our MAX Systems.

Our latest development is in our CNC-style machines: our MAX Systems. We can reach deburring speeds up to 10 teeth a second. Our newest systems can reach rapid speeds of 2,200 ipm, position within 0.005” and repeat within 0.0005”.

We are doing a part now that requires a true radius; we are holding the radius-deviation and radius requirements within ±0.0002” part after part. This part takes 45 minutes by hand or 20 seconds in our MAX.

We have a new feature for copper-coated parts where we can interpolate the tooth that has been cut through the copper, retract the tooth, index the part to the next tooth, and repeat the process. This is what we’re calling a “sewing machine motion” now. This process does not require the part to be dialed in like a normal CNC machine. We keep it simple, throw the part in the machine, and hit cycle start.

Some examples of our other machines include: The Original JE Manual Deburring System, the AutoMAX System™ and the fully automated SynchroMAX™.

James Engineering recently revealed its 11-axis MAX System CNC-type deburring and chamfering machine. What makes the MAX System unique?

The MAX System was originally introduced in 2008. Since then, there have been a lot of refinements and new technologies. The biggest new item is the “sewing machine motion” I talked about earlier. For the end user, the significance is that for a 175-tooth gear, there are only nine lines of code. Our programming is nothing like G-Code or M-Code; it’s point and teach, so you can learn it in 10 minutes and have more flexibility than most traditional CNCs.

The MAX System uses patented Focused Deburring™ technology, which means it can automatically adjust its approach based on the shape and size of the part being processed. This allows for more efficient and effective deburring and chamfering.

The MAXs are now fully coordinated systems, so we can do threads, screw rotors, rectilinear or prismatic parts, and much more.

What types of features available on the MAX System will help with the next generation of shop employees?

There are two areas that really stand out: the interface and the MAX’s ability to perform complex operations.

The interface on our MAX system is our own creation. It is one of the best parts about the MAX. It is really simple. In a few minutes, you will understand how it works, and within a few hours, you can be creating the most complex programs. The interface also allows for extremely quick edits. If something needs to be changed or adjusted, you can go back in and navigate directly to the desired stop, make a change and be running again in a few seconds.

The MAX’s ability to perform complex operations is when it really turns heads. The MAX is a combination of a CNC machine’s precision and a robot’s dexterity. With this, we can completely deburr a part, on all sides, bores, internal features, threads, and more. The machine can do this part-after-part, holding incredible tolerances at extremely fast cycle times without needing to precisely dial in the parts when you load them. 

MORE INFO  www.james-engineering.com