How to Extend Gear Life

Gears are critical elements in the power transmission systems of many machines. As a result, gear failure could mean disastrous results and costly downtime for your equipment or products.

As a buyer or user of gears, it’s important to know the factors that can impact the predicted service life of gears, as well as some proper maintenance techniques that can help extend gear life. Read on to find out more about these topics and more.

Optimize Your Gear Design

Optimizing gear life starts all the way at the beginning, in gear design. Engineers take countless factors into account in their designs that affect the estimated life span of the gear. These factors typically include, but are not limited to:

  • A fully defined duty cycle (e.g. the applied torque load for all sources as a function of rotational speed and duration of application)
  • The lubricant, lubrication system, quality of the lubricant over its service life, and most importantly the bulk average temperature of the lubricant (which is also in-part a function of the rotational speed or pitch-line velocity of the gear)
  • All quantified shock or transient loads, based on the mean and alternating applied torque
  • The alignment of the gears as defined by the precision of shaft bearing support placement and all deflections of shafts and gearboxes due to the applied loads
  • And of course the base material and heat treatment of that material when used as a gear

Certainly a good base gear design is critical to the survival of the gear train, but it is equally important to develop the appropriate micro geometry, specific to the particular application, to ensure that the predicted service life becomes the actual service life.

When choosing a gear engineer, it is important to make sure they have the necessary experience and expertise in gear design, and will work with you to find a custom solution.  KBE+, Inc. is one such custom gear engineering firm, providing design, analysis and test services for gear systems and mechanical transmissions, and is one we work closely with.

Manufacture with Precision

Once your gear is designed, you will need a custom gear manufacturer that can manufacture your gears to your precise specifications. This can be an extremely important factor affecting the life of gears. If they are not produced to the exact specifications that the design requires, the predicted service life could be significantly reduced.

At Gear Motions, we can handle your precision gear manufacturing from start to finish. We are known for our high quality, high precision gears, custom made to your exact specifications. Our full service gear manufacturing includes a wide range of services, and for any services we are unable to do in house, we utilize our trusted network of suppliers to get the job done quickly and effectively. We offer on-time delivery right to your door, and our customer service can’t be beat. You’ll receive timely responses from our helpful and friendly service team from your first contact all the way through and after project completion.

Gear Manufacturing     Gear Production Capabilities

Proper Gear Maintenance

Now that you’ve ensured a satisfactory service life through optimized gear design and precision gear manufacturing, it’s important to apply proper maintenance techniques.

Proper gear maintenance includes:

  • Monitoring the condition of the lubricant; if the lubricant, or more specifically the lubricant additives, get overheated or depleted, gear failure is imminent (periodic lubricant changes, and if equipped, filter changes go a long way to help in this category)
  • Monitoring the condition of the bearings that support the shafts that support the gears; if a bearing starts to fail, it induces an added vibration load into the gear train, which was not accounted for in the design and thus will shorten the predicted service life of the gears
  • Ensure that the applied torque loads and rotational speeds are kept within the design parameters; all too often power requirements increase and/or machine system capabilities get enhanced without consideration of the effect on applied loads throughout the system
  • If the gearbox and/or gear train system is a mission critical application, then periodic visual inspections of each tooth on each gear is warranted

In summary, an important part of extending gear life is choosing the right partners for both gear engineering and gear production. Together, Gear Motions and partner KBE+ excel at both of these services in one convenient place. We hope you’ll consider us for your next gearing project. Contact us to discuss your project with one of our engineers today.