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A Guide to Gear Manufacturing

All production processes are geared towards creating added value. A gear manufacturer’s objectives are defined by product costs, volumes, and deadlines. As such, the production of gears involves a combination of processes. Process used in the manufacture of gears include blanking, forging, powder metallurgy, extrusion, and casting. Various types of gears are available to suit different needs. Examples of gear types include bevel gears, worm gears, spur and helical gears.

Gear manufacturers classify gear types by the positioning of intersecting shafts, parallel shafts, and non-intersecting shafts. Understanding the differences between gear types is critical in understanding how force is transmitted in different mechanical configurations. The selection process requires one to consider factors such as dimensions, precision grades (AGMA, DIN, or ISO), heat treatment or teeth grinding, torque and efficiency ratios.

Advances in gear manufacturing technology have made it easier for manufacturers to produce stock or custom made gears. A variety of machines are available that facilitate the manufacture of gears. Production processes can be either fully automated, manual, or semi-automatic. Machining is the most common manufacturing process that involves shaping and hobbing. A majority of gears are produced through a machine-based process. Hobbing employs dedicated machines to make gears. In hobbing, a gear blank is moved towards a rotating hob until the proper depth is achieved. Once the right depth is reached, a hob cutter is passed across the gears face until all gear teeth are complete. Grinding employs a gear cutter to achieve the required gear design and type. The majority of present hardened gears are produced using the grinding process. But the process is rather slow and only useful in the manufacture of high quality gears.
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Gear manufacturing requires the application of specialized knowledge of mechanical properties of gears. This is particularly the case even when using standardized designs. Production requires engineers to understand factors such as rotational directions, drive train speed ratios, the different kinds of gears, their sizes, and strengths. Other factors to consider are backlashes, teeth forms, and thicknesses, ISO and AGMA precisions classes, gear assembly accuracy, heat, and materials treatment.
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Accordingly, the gear design process relies on industry level standards to improve the quality and performance of gears. These benchmarks entail the evaluation of a manufacturer’s critical production functions and key engineering processes. Reverse engineering gears is commonly employed to benchmark production facilities Reverse engineering entails the computation of design parameters for the specific gear type. Despite gear calculations and parameters being standardized, the task is often complex. Typically, results obtained by reverse engineering are normally accurate. Reverse engineering requires performing repetitive procedures to obtain relevant data. Measurements are intended to take into account deviations from the design, measurement uncertainty, and wear of either custom made gears, worm gears, spur and helical gears.