Gear manufacturing gives us lots of options. There are a handful of different processes we can use to make dozens of different gear types from dozens of different materials. Accordingly, when we choose a gear manufacturing method, it's because it's the best one for the job.
Gear hobbing is just one way we can manufacture gears. It relies on a special form milling machine with a tool known as a hob, which generates the teeth in both gears and splines.
Some gear manufacturing processes take a long time, but gear hobbing is relatively fast. The machine is simple, so it doesn't require as much operational attention, and for some gears, we can stack multiple units to hob them all at the same time.
That said, not just anyone can operate a hobbing machine. With the right expertise, hobbing can be highly precise, resulting in high quality gears.
There's more than one type of hob—and more than one type of hobbing machine. There are countless variations that cater to specialized applications, so you always have options available.
While hobbing is often used for spur gears, the process can be used for a variety of other gears, such as cycloid gears, helical gears, worm gears, ratchets, splines, and sprockets (as long as you have the right tools for the job).
One of hobbing's only weaknesses is that it does not work for internal gears (with inward-facing teeth). However, there's a related process called shaping that can be used instead—with all the same advantages of hobbing.