When discussing machinery, let’s consider for a moment the gear: That humble, mechanical cogwheel that quietly goes about its job of rotating and delivering torque to various pieces of machinery. Gears don’t generate the same level of excitement and appreciation as, say, a shiny new smart phone with a built-in fingerprint scanner, but maybe they should.
There’s hardly a person on the planet that doesn’t directly or indirectly benefit from gears on a daily basis. If you rode a bus, train or car to get to work today, a series of gears turned those wheels. Did you flip on a light switch or heat your home today? The energy might have been harvested by gear-heavy equipment such as wind turbines or oil rigs.
ITAMCO, based in Plymouth, Indiana, is one of the most unique gear shops in the world, delivering precision machined components to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) that serve a wide array of industries – ranging from oil and gas and renewable energy, to mining and construction and aerospace and defense.
ITAMCO has been named the January Inventor of the Month for using Autodesk Digital Prototyping tools — including Autodesk Inventor 3D design software as part of Autodesk Product Design Suite, along with Autodesk Factory Design Suite — to better serve its customers.
“The more precisely manufactured a gear is, the better it will perform,” said Joel Neidig, Technology Manager at ITAMCO. “Using Inventor software for our design and manufacturing processes makes it possible for us to manufacture gears to sub-micron tolerances, which is .00004 inches. That’s very precise.”
This level of precision satisfies even the most demanding customers – like NASA, which used some of ITAMCO’s gears on the mechanical arm that built the international space station. Or the Department of Defense, which uses ITAMCO’s gears on some of its land-based satellite systems.
ITAMCO’s operations have also been significantly enhanced by Factory Design Suite, which allows users to digitally optimize a factory layout before it’s completed. This digital exploration came in handy when the company ordered a colossal piece of machinery that can produce gears up to 13 feet in diameter and that weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.
The gigantic gear grinder arrived in 11 different crates, each weighing more than 20,000 pounds. With Factory Design Suite, the company was able to conduct careful analysis and simulation of the entire machine virtually before physically assembling and installing it on site, preventing costly mistakes and factory layout revisions. More details on this massive machine can be seen in this video:
As ITAMCO has continued to expand, the company has used Factory Design Suite to lay out new cells and equipment and make sure it meets the 5S standards of organization and efficiency across the factory floor. It’s just one more way Autodesk digital prototyping software helps ITAMCO – and the diverse range of customers that depend on them – keep things moving, literally and figuratively.