Steering gear – efficient machining of the main components of the electromechanical steering system

The future of driverless cars will revolutionize the human transportation system and personal driving experience. This conclusion stems from a recent study by McKinsey & Company that the research project was named "Autonomous Driving - 10 Ways, in which the autonomous models will reshape our lifestyle." McKinsey is based on a variety of manufacturers around the world. Changes, including reduced development time, new competitors from the high-tech and IT industries, and new business developments have made bold predictions. Therefore, we believe that autonomous vehicles have very high requirements for sensors, electronic components, especially for the current and future steering systems. Without these guarantees, driverless cars will be impossible targets. Steering gears are one of the standard components of this type of steering system. These components are not only not produced in large quantities, they must also be of high quality and must be manufactured at the lowest possible cost.
Experts from KOEPFER, a subsidiary of the EMAG Group, are very familiar with electromechanical and traditional hydraulic steering systems. J ö rg Lohmann, the most vocal sales manager of KOEPFER, informed the following: “Because of various process flows, our customers' goal is to reduce the number of outsourcing and ultimately reduce the overall tact time. An effective solution to the goal is to provide a complete production line for the strategic components of the plant. This also provides an opportunity to check the current settings and, in some cases, completely eliminate the steps that are no longer needed in the manufacturing process, of course, for the purpose of Reducing production costs.” EMAG KOEPFER In addition to its well-known high-quality and efficient horizontal gear hobbing machines, the solutions offered by modular stereo solutions are of course dependent on the user's own individual production strategy.
Production of large-volume steering gears
The K160 is equipped with a high-speed gantry loading unit with dual swivel jaws, which greatly reduces the loading time and even seconds. When machining steering gears, this challenge cannot be underestimated because the milling process often requires the gears to be positioned at an angle to the existing groove and hole profiles. In this case, the development of a specialized positioning device is the supreme solution. Lohmann continues: “Because the actual machining time of the steering gear is only a few seconds, the idle time generated from the loading to the positioning process can be minimized to minimize the efficiency of the machine. The solution is able to reduce production and processing time to less than 20 seconds, which means that productivity can be greatly improved, increasing production capacity from 100,000 units to several million units."
K 160 滚齿机在加工转向齿轮
The K160 gear hobbing machine is machining the steering gear: the gear machining can be completed in only 15-20 seconds. When machining one steering gear, the other workpiece is placed in advance at the loading position without affecting the machining time. This unloading technology concept can achieve such incredibly fast machining time.

KOEPFER's experts have the technical advantage to reduce idle time by such a flexible loading door with double-rotating jaws.
Overall overview of the production process
EMAG also developed a steering gear machining system based on the company's modular product portfolio. EMAG designed the VTC 100-4 vertical pick-up lathe, which is custom-made VT 2-4 for turning blanks and is well known in the industry. The VLC 200 H vertical gear hobbing machine uses hobbing technology for tooth machining. The VLC100 IH vertical quenching machine is used for induction hardening, and the VTC 100 GT vertical turning and grinding center finishes and finishes the workpiece in the final stages of the machining process. Due to the deformation caused by the quenching, the additional finishing required for the gear profile is best done by the VLC 200 H with the scraping capability.
EMAG machines are easy to assemble and are a model for modular machine tools
There are many reasons to favor modular equipment using EMAG, because the basic principle of modularity as a standard has many advantages. Each machine uses Mineralit ® advanced polymer concrete bed, which not only has good damping characteristics, but also greatly reduces vibration and improves component quality. EMAG's typical design consists of an automation system and a workpiece storage device that is specifically configured for specific needs, both of which are integrated into the modular mechanical concept as a whole to form an automated picking system, that is, a machine tool that processes the components from the storage device. Automatic loading and unloading. The entire process takes only a few seconds to reach the maximum output of the machine. Since the height of the storage devices of the components is almost the same on all modular devices, the workpiece transfer between them can be greatly simplified. Relatively simple automation components such as conveyor belts, pick-ups and switching devices can be used in conjunction with modular machine tools as required. These simple solutions not only guarantee lower costs, but also virtually no space, EMAG's entire steering gear line can be completely within 15% of the standard solution. Compared to a solution with a gantry loading device or a robot, the maintenance requirements are greatly reduced, and such advantages are not to be underestimated. The machine's vertical design allows the spindle, slide and workpiece transport systems to be configured in a very compact configuration, helping to reduce the footprint of the processing system.
Machine details
The VTC 100-4 four-axis vertical shaft lathe clamps the blank between the center spindle and the tailstock. The two turrets have 12 tool positions for loading and machining operations. One of the turrets is equipped with a workpiece jaw for transporting the shaft workpiece into and out of the vertical lathe. The turret can be equipped with a turning tool or a power tool. . Conveyor belts are placed on both sides of the processing area.
The next pick-up spindle is used to feed the VLC 200 H vertical gear hobbing machine. After the workpiece has been transported into the machining area, the KOEPFER hobbing technology begins to work. High torque and high-speed, high-performance drive units for spindles and hobs ensure high efficiency for high-precision, fast machining of modulo 4 teeth. The new VLC 100 IH is designed for use in the quenching process. This has successfully combined the basic design of the modular machine tool with the induction hardening technology of eldec, another subsidiary of the EMAG Group. The VTC 100 GT turning and grinding center specializes in the finishing of steering gears. The machine is equipped with a disc turret with 11 positions (12th position mounting jaws) and a grinding wheel. As a combination of turning operations, the machine's advantages are significant, such as combining hard turning or non-rolling turning technology with grinding technology to ensure that the machining process is faster than conventional final grinding and achieves the same machining quality. With a workpiece spindle torque of 70 Nm and a rated power of 17 kW, the machine has the power required to perform the tough machining tasks.
Regardless of how the automotive market develops, EMAG will continue to demonstrate that it is fully prepared to meet the challenges of future products and processing solutions. The EMAG Group's extensive range of technologies allows the company to respond flexibly to market development while ensuring that unique and comprehensive solutions can be developed in real time.

Steering gears are typical components of steering systems. This photo shows the workpiece after each machining stage, from turning, (soft) pre-milling, quenching to final shaving (hard).

For toothed parts with a modulus of 2.5, the K160 is the fastest hobbing machine in the world. In addition to the extremely fast loading system, the machine is also equipped with a modern direct drive unit (on the cutting and spindle) and a user-friendly KOEPFER dialog programming control unit, which is very intuitive and convenient to use.

The VTC 100-4 is a 4-axis shaft-type workpiece lathe with a workpiece length of up to 400 mm and a diameter of 63 mm.

The turret of the VTC 100-4 is being loaded with the jaws. It picks up the workpiece from the side workpiece feed and places it in the spindle/tailstock.

Machining area of ​​the VLC 100 GT: All precision machining processes (CBN grinding, hard turning and non-rolling turning) are done in one setup.

The VLC 200 H is designed for the machining of wheel-shaped workpieces with a diameter of 200 mm and a modulus of 4.

The VLC 200 H completes the loading and unloading process by picking up the spindle. Thanks to the EMAG's classic design, this intelligent system greatly increases the gear machining productivity of wheeled workpieces.

Steering gear production line

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