Stoke-On-Trent based DePe Gear Company Ltd is a leader in the field of gearbox design and manufacture in gear related applications. In addition to supplying a large UK customer base, the company also provides high-quality gear related products to a wide range of heavy industries within all of the major industrial economies of the world. Demanding global sectors served include rail, heavy duty pumps, mining, quarrying and steel processing.
With the capacity to grind gears up to 1,250 mm diameter and cut gears up to 2,500 mm diameter, DePe’s diverse output includes ground gears, couplings, prototype work, re-engineered gears, CNC gear inspection, traction pinions and wheels, internal/external splines and bespoke gearboxes.
In addition to employing a skilled workforce and investing in the best available machine tools and inspection equipment, a philosophy of working closely with its customers, from the initial feasibility and budgeting stage, through to the design, manufacture and final commissioning of first-class gears and gearboxes, has enabled DePe to experience impressive company growth.
Rising global demand for the company’s products and an increase in requests for gears of greater sizes, recently prompted company directors Nigel Parker and Andrew Jubb to search for an additional high quality gear grinder.
Andrew Jubb explains: “To help keep pace with demand, after examining the alternatives, in 2008 we installed a Hofler Rapid 800 Gear Grinder and have been extremely impressed with both the quality of the machine’s output and its impressive production volumes. In fact at the time, the volume of high-quality work produced by the Höfler machine meant that in one day, it was able to get through the same amount of work that previously took our older machines a week to complete.
“Although we have been delighted with our Höfler Rapid 800 Gear Grinder, as our business has grown and the need recently arose for a further gear grinder, in accordance with our policy of testing the market and mindful of possible developments by other Gear Grinder manufacturers, we briefly looked at a couple of other applicable brands.
“Having compared the available alternatives to our existing Höfler Gear Grinder, we believed that Höfler still had a technical lead and that another of the company’s RAPID series machine was the best way forward. We then placed an order with Höfler’s UK agent, Micronz LLP for a Höfler Rapid 1250.
“Our recently installed new gear grinder has a larger gear diameter capacity than our existing Höfler machine: 1,250 mm compared to 800 mm. This will allow us to satisfy the growing demand for larger gears.
“In addition to the machine’s extended external diameter gear grinding ability, we have been impressed with its internal grinding capability. Now in full production we particularly appreciate our new gear grinder’s ability to grind internal gears from solid. This enables us to provide a fast turnaround to our customers, as we can machine helical gears without having to wait for special guide ways to be made. As there is a growing demand for the manufacture of internal gears, and given that only a few UK companies are able to undertake this kind of work, we anticipate keeping our new gear grinder busy in this area.”
Hofler’s RAPID profile grinding machines are designed to handle component diameters of up to 1,250 mm, and depending on individual requirements, they can be delivered with an increased stroke range (L/XL variant). In addition to the standard configuration, the machine can be supplied with a small grinding head for holding small grinding wheel with diameters of 300-20 mm (K variant). In all configurations, RAPID series machines can be quickly retooled from external to internal gearings using optional internal gear grinding arms.
The RAPID’s special machine axes arrangement, a thermally stable and almost vibration-free machine bed made of cast polymer, as well as wear-free torque drives in the machine table and grinding head for 5-axis grinding, all contribute to the machine's high-precision, consistent quality, and tremendous adaptability.
The highly flexible grinding head with integrated 3D probe and helix angle adjustment capability during the grinding process, mean that gears can be modified topologically depending on permissible deviations, in single-flank or double-flank grinding. Also measurements using the optional test equipment ensure a controlled grinding result even in the course of the grinding process.
In addition to the advantages delivered by Hofler’s reliable, advanced hardware, the company’s gear grinding machines provide impressive productivity gains through the use of Höfler’s advanced GearPro Software. GearPro guarantees the convenient machining of even the most complex of topographies and ensures maximum efficiency in daily use.
GearPro provides concentrated knowledge of state-of-the-art machining strategies and process sequences in an understandable format, directly to the user. As a result of its many options, GearPro plays an active role in users achieving impressive productivity gains. Software modules for best-fit grinding, high-speed grinding, as well as adaptive grinding and dressing, have been developed to enable significant reductions in production times.