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A Guide to Gear Manufacturing

The purpose of any production process is to create added value. In gear manufacturing, the creation of benefit focuses on achieving QCD (costs, volumes, and deadlines). As such, the production of gears involves a combination of processes. These processes may include forging, casting, powder metallurgy, blanking, and extrusion. Gear manufacturers produce different kinds of gears for use in different industries. The various kinds include worm gears, bevel gears, gear racks, spur and helical gears.

To classify gears; manufacturers look at the positioning of the gear shaft. 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. Today, machines exist which facilitates entire production processes. Production processes can be either fully automated, manual, or semi-automatic. As such, machining is the most populate gear production process involving two main methods: shaping or hobbing. Large volumes of gears are manufactured using machine based techniques. Hobbing employs dedicated machines to make gears by relying on vertical or horizontal spindles In hobbing, a gear blank is moved towards a rotating hob until the proper depth is achieved. After the right gear depth is attained, the blank is then passed through a hob cutter. Grinding employs a gear cutter to achieve the required gear design and type. Mostly, grinding is used to finish accurate and hardened gears. Gear grinding is slow and is only utilized for the manufacture of high quality hardened gears.
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Quality manufacture of gears requires a working knowledge of the mechanical properties of materials used in production. Comprehension of mechanical properties is especially necessary when relying on standardized gear designs. This knowledge encompasses a variety of formulas for creating gear sizes and strengths, an understanding of the various gear types and technical vocabulary, train speed ratios and rotational directions. 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. A major techniques used to benchmark manufacturing standards is reverse engineering gears. 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. The process requires the performance of repetitive procedures to arrive at conclusive data. Acquired measurements provide information regarding design deviations, uncertainty in measurements, and wearing of gears in the application environment.