The machining process monitoring, especially the tool wear monitoring, is very critical in modern automated gear machining environment which needs instant detection of cutting tool state and/or process conditions, quick final diagnosis and appropriate actions. It has been realized that the non-uniform hardness of the workpiece material due to the improper heat treatment can cause expedited tool wear and unexpected tool breakage, which greatly increases difficulties and complexities in monitoring the tool conditions in gear cutting. This paper provides a solution to detect the wear conditions of the gear milling cutter in the cutting of workpiece materials with hardness variations using the audible sound signals. In this study, cutting tools and workpieces are prepared to have different flank wear classes and hardness variations respectively. A series of gear milling experiments are operated with a broad range of cutting conditions to collect sound signals. A machine learning algorithm that incorporates support vector machine (SVM) approach coupled with the application of time and frequency domain analysis is developed to correlate observed sound signals’ signatures to specified tool wear classes and workpiece hardness levels. The performance evaluation results of the proposed monitoring system have shown accurate predictions in detecting tool wear conditions and workpiece hardness variations from the sound signals in gear milling.

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