Issue: Sep 2010


CNC Programming Improvements Help Fairfield Succeed in New Markets



by Steve Barclay

Fairfield Manufacturing is a leading provider of engineered gear and transmission systems for off-highway and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) throughout the world. The company originally specialized in parts up to 48 inches in diameter, which covered virtually all mobile equipment gearing needs. But market demands for larger gear assemblies, primarily for stationary applications, required Fairfield to make even larger gears and complex gear housings to support markets outside mobile equipment. This change necessitated moving to a new generation of multifunction machines which in turn made the company’s previous 4-axis computer numerical control (CNC) programming system obsolete. “We switched to ESPRIT CAM software because it provides so much flexibility to customize the postprocessor,” said Tom Lawler, manufacturing engineer for Fairfield Manufacturing. “ESPRIT works directly with files from the CAD system we use to design our products and simplifies the task of programming multifunction mill-turn machines and 5-axis machining centers. ESPRIT captures the geometry of the machine, tooling and part so we can visualize the complete machining operation and detect any potential crashes to ensure trouble-free operation on the machine tool.”

Based in Lafayette, Indiana, Oerlikon Fairfield offers a broad range of gear and drive solutions, including gearing, custom designed gear assemblies and Torque Hub® planetary drives. Fairfield teams up with its sister company, Oerlikon Graziano, to offer complete drive trains for a wide range of off-highway mobile equipment. Oerlikon Fairfield has recently won large contracts to provide ring gears, pinion shafts and large bull gears used in wind turbine drive assemblies. Oerlikon Fairfield’s participation in the clean energy market area exploits one of their main core competencies of producing high-precision, large diameter gears and shafts, including both gear cutting and the complete heat treatment hardening process. As part of its strategic business focus, the company continues to capture new programs in the energy market as well as further diversifying their business


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