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Tech Front: Whisker-Reinforced Ceramic Cutter


WG-700 is a completely new whisker-reinforced ceramic insert from Greenleaf Corp. (Saegertown, PA) with a substrate that features an optimized whisker load to improve crack- and wear-resistance characteristics while increasing overall strength of the insert. The WG-700 insert features a "platinum" nano-layered PVD coating that provides low-friction machining in both wet and dry environments, high-temperature stability, abrasion resistance, oxidation resistance, and chemical inertness. Targeted applications include the new classes of difficult-to-machine materials from high-strength nickel and cobalt-based superalloys to composites. Greenleaf's WG-700 whisker-reinforced ceramic inserts are capable of high metal-removal rates in machining difficult-to-cut materials, ranging from new high-strength superalloys to composites.

"Our goal for WG-700 was to create an insert that could consistently machine high-strength alloys at speeds in excess of 1000 fpm," says Greenleaf Corp. president, Jim Greenleaf. "Not only did we achieve our goal, but we found that we had also created a grade that is capable of those extreme speeds at higher feed rates and with better tool life than any of our other whisker grades."  

WG-700 joins Greenleaf’s lineup of whisker-reinforced ceramic inserts for turning and milling that includes the uncoated WG-300 insert and the coated WG-600 insert. Introduced in 1985, the WG-300 was recognized with a 1986 IR-100 award (now called the R&D 100 award) as one of the most technologically significant and innovative ideas of the year, because of its ability to machine high-temperature alloys 10× faster than carbide. The coated WG-600 insert was introduced to further extend cutting speed and tool life.

Metal removal rates for the WG-700 are said to be up to 10× greater than carbide and 3× greater than Sialons. The end result is an extremely strong, wear-resistant, mechanical-shock resistant, ceramic grade that is capable of much higher metal-removal rates than any other whisker-reinforced ceramic insert. With tool life extended, inserts need to be indexed less often, increasing productivity. There are a number of other possible applications, including machining hardened steel that could eliminate grinding operations. WG-700 is available in all standard sizes and shapes.

WG-700 is the first new product to be released as part of Greenleaf’s Global Productivity Initiative, a multi-year campaign to meet growing demand for its products. Greenleaf has increased its insert production capacity by 30%, its steel manufacturing capacity by 25%, and recently opened a 26,000-ft² (2415-m²) ceramic manufacturing facility. In addition, over the past two years, the company has increased the number of its sales and service engineers and contracted representatives worldwide by 60%.

For more information on WG-700 and Greenleaf Corp., telephone 814-763-2915, or go to


Collets for Swiss-Turned Parts

Keeping bar stock unmarked, holding a small diameter on center, holding a thin-wall part, ejecting parts, and working with extruded bar shapes are common gripping dilemmas for the Swiss-turning industry. Hardinge Inc.’s (Elmira, NY) Workholding Division offers standard and custom collet solutions for small Swiss machined medical and aerospace parts. Manufactured solutions can provide special accuracy order holes of 0.0005" (0.013 mm) or better for holding strict tolerances, as well as micro-inch finish order holes. Collets and guide bushings for D-shaped and other extruded stock shapes, along with pickoff collets with a built-in spring ejector that pushes the part into a basket or conveyor to automate the process, are available. Standard solutions include headstock collets, pickoff collets, carbide guide bushings, bar loader collets, and custom manufactured products.

Engineered pickoff collets for Citizen, Star, Tornos, Tsugami, and other machine applications are available. Hardinge has partnered with Citizen Machinery America (Agawam, MA) to produce adaptive guide bushings and overgrip collets. The adaptive guide bushing allows the use of less expensive, non-ground bar stock. This system uses air pressure to open and close the guide bushing collet as the size of the material being machined changes. A kit from Citizen must be installed in the machine to permit the use of the adaptive guide bushing collet.

Other special Swiss application collets include stepped, tapered, chamfered, radius, and off-center order holes, and over-the-shoulder collets. ID gripping pickoff collets are available for parts with delicate outside threading or a thin wall, eliminating the cost and time that may be required for second operations. Standard round guide bushings are carbide-lined to keep the stock clean and unmarked. Hardened steel or Meehanite-lined bushings can be made for certain stock applications that are not compatible with carbide.

For more information about Hardinge Workholding, go to, or phone 800-843-8801.


Scan-to-3-D SolutionEnhanced polygonal mesh generation leads to 3-D digital models that can be used in applications like 3-D printing and digital content creation.

The Geomagic Wrap OEM edition software from Geomagic Inc. (Research Triangle Park, NC) in combination with the new breed of scanning devices can accurately produce 3-D polygonal digital models of physical objects direct from 3-D scan data. Geomagic’s software combines automated 3-D point cloud merge and registration with cleanup tools and rapid, accurate polygon mesh generation. After enhancement with sculpting, trimming, and shelling tools, 3-D digital models can be used in applications like 3-D printing and digital content creation. Models can be exported in formats including STL, OBJ, and 3D PDF. 

To date, six scanner hardware manufacturers are on board to include the Geomagic Wrap OEM edition with their 3-D scanners—Creaform, 3D3 Solutions, 3D Digital, Noomeo, Open Technologies, and Vialux. Creaform will include the Geomagic Wrap OEM edition with every one of its Gemini and MegaCapturor scanners, which are used for human body scanning in medical, virtual reality, and other similar applications. Vialux zSnapper digitizers, used for rapid scanning for forensic, plastic surgery, and biometric industries, will also incorporate the Wrap OEM edition as a complete solution.  

Geomagic software is used to design, reverse engineer, and inspect parts, as well create customized restorations, appliances, prosthetics, and treatment plans to help improve patient care in the dental and medical markets. Some of the companies that use Geomagic software include, Ford, Harley Davidson, Richard Childress Racing, Timberland, Fisher Price, Pratt & Whitney, NASA, Alcoa Howmet, Danaher, and Invisalign.

For more information on Geomagic, telephone 919-534-0706, or go to


Technology Sells in China

Drake Mfg Services Co. (Warren, OH) is reporting and enjoying a surge in exports to Chinese manufacturers with orders in hand for more than 25 of its machines. Drake’s machines, software, and grinding processes are used by manufacturers of power and e-steering components, including ballscrews, ball nuts, steering racks, and worms. Machines include internal and external grinders and rack-milling machines, as well as special grinding processes for licensees of its proprietary internal return ball nut technology, currently in use in EPS systems.

Work zone of the GS:TI-LM 200 internal thread grinder shown with a 9-kg steering nut in machining position for the power-steering system of a heavy-duty commercial truck.The latest machine to be delivered is a GS:TI-LM 200, a four-axis internal thread grinder with a 200-mm maximum grinding length and 350-mm swing over the table. The machine was tooled and programmed to grind recirculating ball nuts used in the power-steering systems of heavy-duty commercial trucks. The steering nut weighs over 9 kg and is loaded manually into a custom workholding fixture, though Drake points out that robot loading is also available.

The GS:TI-LM 200 is the second machine delivered to the customer, more than doubling production capacity. The machine is equipped with linear motors for maintenance-free operation. No ballscrews and 0.05 µm scales produce accurate leads and helical path. A CNC rotary diamond-dressing unit mounted on the workhead can generate wheel forms either by contouring or plunge dressing with a form roll. The wheel spindle is equipped with a power helix that can grind lead angles of ±12°. The machine has a safe shutdown feature that prevents crashes in the event of a plant power loss. 

Drake machines feature Part Smart software programs for making good parts from day one. The operator needs only to input part-specific variables into the control to run parts. No customer programming is required, and the customer can change from one part to another in minutes.

For more information about Drake Manufacturing Services, telephone 330-847-7291, or go to


Universal Gear Testers

Roll testing and single-flank testing of bevel, angular bevel, and parallel-axis gears with diameters to 2500 mm can be completed faster and easier with new series of six-axis fully CNC Universal Gear Testers from Gleason Corp. (Rochester, NY). The new series includes the 1000T, 1600T, 2000T, and 2500T models for workpiece diameters including 1000, 1600, 2000, and 2500 mm. The gear testers can perform the full range of pattern checking and single-flank (SFT) motion transmission error testing on any bevel gear set with a wide range of angles. The testers are equipped with a CNC-controlled pivoting gearhead that can swing from 0 to 180°, enabling it to mesh precisely pinion and ring gears of varying angles and types, and even cylindrical gear, both parallel axis and off-angle.

The new series is designed to make operations such as setup, manual or full automatic operation, and jogging simpler and more intuitive, despite the added complexity of testing an angular gear set. Operators are able to understand machine operation better through virtual gear set axes that are easier to work than typical machine axes that can be difficult to translate into angular motions. CNC controllers, either the Siemens 840D or Fanuc 31i, and Gleason’s Windows-based inspection software combine to support this unique virtual capability, and also make more routine functions like manual roll checks, cycle setup, and V&H testing easier for the operator.

The Gleason Universal Testers feature a rigid and thermally stable granite machine-base frame and an advanced light curtain to protect the work zone. Though compact, there is a large accessible test area. Load/unload is manual so the open test area and long axes travels allow the operator to quickly load and unload gears of any size and geometry.

First of the new series, a 1000T, is already in production at Sauter Bachman (Netstal, Switzerland), a leading manufacturer of high-quality gears and gearboxes for aircraft, automotive, railway, and textile industry applications. Gleason’s products are used by manufacturers in automotive, truck, aircraft, agriculture, mining, windpower, construction, power tool, and marine industries, and by a diverse set of customers serving industrial equipment markets.

For more information on Gleason Corp., go to, or phone 585-473-1000.




This article was first published in the July 2011 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine. Click here for PDF

Published Date : 7/1/2011

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