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This application claims benefit, under 35 U.S.C. §119(e), of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/705,233 filed on 25 Sep. 2012, the contents and substance of which are herein incorporated by reference.
Embodiments of the present invention relate generally to rolling mills, and are concerned in particular with the provision of an improved modular rolling mill for finish rolling long products such as round rods and bars as well as shaped products.
2. Description of Related Art
As disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,537,055 (Woodrow et al.) and 5,152,165 (Shore et al.), known block type finishing mills typically comprise multiple mechanically coupled roll stands driven by a common motor.
It is also known, as disclosed for example in U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,595,083 (Shore) and 7,191,629 (Shore et al.), to subdivide the finishing mill into multiple mechanically coupled rolling units, each of which includes two pairs of work rolls.
In these finishing mills, because the roll stands or rolling units are permanently coupled mechanically, the inertia of the entire mill serves to dampen impact speed drops caused by the entry of a product front end into the successive roll passes. On the negative side, however, is the relatively high cost of such finishing mills, due in large part to the complex and costly gear trains required to achieve mechanical coupling of the roll stands or rolling units, and the large and costly motors employed to drive the mills.
Broadly stated, embodiments of the present invention are directed to the provision of a modular finishing mill comprising a plurality of rolling units arranged along a mill pass line, with each rolling unit being independently driven by a dedicated motor and drive train, and with clutches for selectively and temporarily coupling and de-coupling the drive trains of successive pairs of the rolling units.
In exemplary embodiments, the rolling units include pairs of work rolls carried on roll shafts, with the drive trains comprising gear sets mechanically coupling the roll shafts to drive shafts powered by the motors.
The drive shafts may all be driven at substantially the same speed, with the gear sets being configured and arranged to effect stepped increases in the speed of the roll shafts of successive roll pairs.
The clutches may be interposed between the drive shafts of successive rolling units, and may comprise electro magnetic or ferro fluid clutches.
In an exemplary method of rolling a product of finite length with a modular finishing mill in accordance with the present invention, successive pairs of the rolling units are coupled together prior to the arrival of a product front end at the first rolling unit. The coupling of the rolling units is maintained until the product front end has cleared the last rolling unit, at which time the rolling units are de-coupled and maintained in a de-coupled state while rolling the remaining product length.
These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent upon reading the following detailed description in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
FIG. 1 is a plan view of a modular finishing mill in accordance with an exemplary embodiment of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a sectional view taken along line 2-2 of FIG. 1; and
FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of a portion of the modular finishing mill shown in FIG. 1.
The components described herein as making up the various embodiments are intended to be illustrative and not restrictive. Many suitable components that would perform the same or a similar function as well as the materials described herein are intended to be embraced within the scope of embodiments of the present invention.
Referring now to the figures, wherein like reference numerals represent like parts throughout the views, an illustrative embodiment of a modular finishing mill in accordance with the present invention is generally depicted at 10. The mill comprises a plurality of rolling units 12 arranged in succession along a mill pass line. Each rolling unit 12 is independently driven by a dedicated motor 14 and drive train 16. Each rolling unit 12 may employ two pairs of work rolls indicated typically at 18. As can be best seen in FIG. 2, the work rolls are carried on roll shafts 20 mechanically coupled by gear sets 22, 24 to a drive shaft 26 comprising part of the drive train 16. The drive shafts of adjacent rolling units are parallel.
As depicted in FIG. 3, axially aligned first and second stub shafts 28, 30 are provided between adjacent drive shafts 16. Each of the stub shafts 28, 30 carries a gear 32 in meshed relationship with a gear 34 on a respective one of the adjacent drive shafts 16. The stub shafts 28, 30 are interconnected by clutches 36, which may comprise electro magnetic or ferro fluid clutches.
When the clutches 36 are disengaged, the stub shafts 28, 30 are disconnected and free to rotate independently of each other, resulting in a de-coupling of the adjacent rolling units 12. Engagement of the clutches 36 may provide up to 100% lock up of the stub shafts 28, 30, with the engaged gear sets 32, 34 serving to mechanically couple the adjacent rolling units 12.
When rolling a product of finite length with the above described illustrative embodiment of a finishing mill in accordance with the present invention, prior to the arrival of a product front end at the first rolling unit 12, the clutches 36 may be engaged to achieve a coupling of successive rolling units. Coupling may be maintained while the product front end negotiates each of the roll passes defined by the successive pairs of work rolls 18. After the product front end has cleared the roll pass of the last rolling unit, the clutches 36 may be disengaged, allowing the rolling units 12 to operate independently while rolling the remaining length of the product.
When the successive rolling units 12 are coupled together, the inertia of the entire mill is available to dampen any impact speed drop caused by the entry of a product front end into the roll passes of a successive roll pairs.
While exemplary embodiments of the present invention have been disclosed, modifications, additions and deletions can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention and its equivalents, as set forth in the following claims.