The Phoenix--rises, again: gearcutting goes dry, compact and ergonomic.

Position:Manufacturing Update

Gleason has rolled out a totally new design for its Phoenix line of bevel gear cutting machines in which a smaller, faster machine, the Phoenix II, will do the work of larger conventional models-all in a totally dry, operator-friendly environment.

The new Phoenix II machine received rave reviews when introduced at EMO in Europe and the Gear Expo in the U.S. The target manufacturing market includes the automotive and light truck industries, jobbers and smaller manufacturers, among others.

The Phoenix II continues the design trend toward gear-cutting machines that can machine gears near dry or completely dry. With the cost of chip and coolant disposal continuing to rise dramatically, often accounting for as much as 15 percent of the total cost of manufacturing, the new design represents a complete technological leapfrog over anything currently available.

Since 1997, when Gleason gave its Phoenix line of bevel gear-cutting machines the flexibility to cut wet or dry, using advanced carbide tools, nearly 90 percent of Phoenix machines shipped have been running dry. Phoenix machines of that breed, like the Phoenix 175HC, were equipped with advanced tooling featuring the latest carbides and coatings and a protective sheet metal shroud and vacuum system to trap and remove hot and dry chips from the work area.

The Phoenix II 275HC machine represents the next design step by completely eliminating the need for shrouds and costly vacuum systems while delivering chip containment and ergonomically sound ways for handling workpieces and changing cutters. The secret is the machine's structural design, which mounts cutter spindle and work spindle on a monolithic cast iron column.

According to Craig Ronald, Gleason chief design engineer, this design approach departs from that typical of machines in this class, which usually have massive machine beds. As a result the new Phoenix II 275HC occupies 35 percent less space than its predecessor, the Phoenix 175HC-90 square feet vs. 140 square feet. The Phoenix II 275HC is still able to machine gears with a pitch diameter as large as 275 mm (hence the 275 designation) compared with the 175 mm limit for the earlier model.

The design allows hot dry chips to fall completely clear of machine components into a simple chip conveyor, without the need for shrouds, vacuum systems, or even hot chip-related temperature compensation because there's no heat buildup in the column, explains Ronald.

"In addition, we're now pivoting the cutter...

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