Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A gear is a toothed wheel designed to transmit torque to another gear or toothed component. The teeth of a gear are shaped to minimize wear, vibration and noise, and to maximize the efficiency of power transmission.
Different-sized gears are often used in pairs, allowing the torque of the driving gear to produce a larger torque in the driven gear at lower speed, or a smaller torque at higher speed. The larger gear is known as a wheel and the smaller as a pinion. This is the principle of the automobile gearbox. As a gearbox is not an amplifier or a servo system, the amount of power delivered by the output gear or shaft will never exceed the power applied to the input gear, regardless of the gear ratio. There is actually some loss of power due to friction.
The most common type of gear wheel, spur gears, are flat and have teeth projecting radially and in the plane of the wheel. These gears can be fitted only to parallel axles. Helical gears offer a refinement over spur gears. The teeth are cut at an angle, allowing for more gradual, hence smoother meshing between gear wheels. A disadvantage of helical gears is a resultant thrust along the axis of the gear, which needs to be accommodated by appropriate thrust bearings. Double helical gears, also known as herringbone gears, overcome this problem by having teeth that are 'V' shaped. Each gear in a double helical gear can be thought of as two standard, but mirror image, helical gears stacked. This cancels out the thrust since each half of the gear thrusts in the opposite direction. They can be directly interchanged with spur gears without any need for different bearings. Beveled gears have angled teeth, allowing torque to be transmitted between non-parallel but intersecting axles. Four beveled gears in a square make a differential gear, which can transmit power to two axles spinning at different speeds, such as those on a cornering automobile. If the axles are skewed, i.e. non-intersecting, then a worm gear can be used. This is a gear that resembles a screw, with parallel helical teeth, and mates with a normal spur gear. The worm gear can achieve a higher gear ratio than spur gears of a comparable size.
Torque can be converted to linear force by a rack and pinion. The pinion is a spur gear, and mates with a toothed bar or rod that can be thought of as a spur gear with an infinitely large radius of curvature. Such a mechanism is used in automobiles to convert the rotation of the steering wheel into the left-to-right motion of the tie rod(s).
A crown gear or contrate gear is a special form of bevel gear which has teeth at right angles to the plane of the wheel; it meshes with a straight cut spur gear or pinion on a right-angled axis to its own, or with an escapement such as found in mechanical clocks.
Simple gears suffer from backlash, which is the error in motion that occurs when gears change direction, resulting from hard to eliminate manufacturing errors. When moving forwards, the front face of the drive gear tooth pushes on the rear face of the driven gear. When the drive gear changes direction, its rear face is now pushing on the front face of the driven gear. Unless deliberately designed to eliminate it, there is slight 'slop' in any gearing where briefly neither face of the driving gear is pushing the driven gear. This means that input motion briefly causes no output motion. Assorted schemes exist to minimize or avoid problems this creates.
In some machines it is necessary to change the gear ratio to suit the task. There are several ways of doing this. For example:
- manual gearbox ('stick shift' in the US)
- automatic gearbox
- derailleur gears which are actually sprockets in combination with a chain
- hub gears (also called epicyclic gearing or sun-and-planet gears)
- continuously variable transmission
- infinitely variable transmission
Gear is also the name of Static's Sidekick in two seasons of the Static Shock series which were made by cartoon network, not the WB network which it originated from.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details