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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design



Gears enable rotation and torque (and hence power) to be transmitted form one shaft to another, through meshing teeth. The
centrelines of the connected shafts may be parallel, intersecting or skew, and the velocity (gear) ratio of the connected shafts may
have a wide range of values.
The shape of gear teeth is such that they have conjugate action – they produce a constant angular-velocity ratio during meshing. In
theory many tooth profiles could be used to achieve this action, but in practice the involute profile is in almost universal use.
Generally, if the distances of power transmission are large, gears are not suitable and chains and belts can be considered. When a
compact, efficient or high-speed drive is required, gear trains offer a competitive and suitable solution. Additional benefits of gear
drives include reversibility, configuration at almost any angle between input and output and their suitability to operate in rough

Types of Gears
Spur gears transmit power between parallel shafts and the teeth cut straight. Such gears are used only for low speeds, since despite
theoretically smooth action (line contact) they tend to be noisy. Each time a gear tooth engages a tooth on the other gear, the teeth
collide, and this impact makes a noise. It also increases the stress on the gear teeth. However, they are cheap. Their straight teeth
allow running engagement or disengagement using sliding shaft and clutch mechanisms. Typical applications of spur gears include:
manual and automatic motor vehicle gearboxes, machine tool drives, conveyor systems, electric motor gearboxes, timing mechanisms
and power tool drives.
Helical gears are again used for parallel shafts. The teeth form helixes with respect to the centreline (helix angles are 15o to 30o), such
that at least one tooth-pair is well engaged before the previous pair has moved out of mesh. They are quieter than spur gears, and
have an extended range of load and speed, but produce end thrust. Helical gears are typically used for heavy-duty high-sped
(>3500rpm) power transmission, turbine drives, locomotive gearboxes and machine tool drives.
Double helical gears are back-to-back helical gears, for which the axial thrust components are balanced.
Crossed helical gears are used for skewed shaft centrelines. They have point contact and bear only low loads.
Bevel gears use straight teeth for intersecting shaft centrelines, and have similar characteristics to spur gears. Bevel gears are used
for motor transmission differential drives, valve control and mechanical instruments.
Spiral bevel gears use spiral teeth for intersecting shaft centrelines, and have similar characteristics to helical gears.
Worm gear sets are capable of high-speed reduction and high-load applications where non-parallel, non-intersecting shafts are used.
The 90o configuration is most common. Frictional heat generation is high in worm gears, so continuous lubrication is required and heat
dissipation provision must be made. They are irreversible for high ratios. Worm gears are used for steering gear, winch blocks, low-
speed gearboxes, rotary tables and remote valve control.

(a) Spur gears (b) Helical gears (c) Bevel gears

(d) Spiral bevel gears (e) Rack and Pinion (f) Worm and Wheel

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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design
Table 1 lists the range of gear ratios and performance characteristics typically achievable.

Table 1 Useful range of gear ratios

Gear Ratio range Pitch line velocity (m/s) Efficiency (%)
Spur 1:1 to 6:1 25 98 - 99
Helical 1:1 to 10:1 50 98 - 99
Double helical 1:1 to 15:1 150 98 - 99
Bevel 1:1 to 4:1 20
Worm 5:1 to 75:1 30 20 - 98
Crossed helical 1:1 to 6:1 30

When two gears are in mesh, it is kinematically equivalent to their pitch circles rolling on one another without slipping. The pitch line
velocity is therefore:
V = |r1ω1| = |r2ω2|
Where ri is the gear pitch circle radius, and ωi the angular velocity. The ratio of number of teeth on the two gears is the same as the
pitch circle ratio.

Pitch circle: the theoretical circle on which calculations are based. Its diameter is called pitch
diameter (d).
Module (m): the ratio of the pitch diameter to the number of teeth.
Circular pitch: the distance from a point on one tooth to the corresponding point on the adjacent
tooth measured along the pitch circle.
Addendum (a): the radial distance from the pitch circle to the outside of the tooth.
Dedendum (b): the radial distance from the pitch circle to the bottom land.
Preferred modules for metric spur, helical and bevel gears are 1, 1.25, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 25, 32, 40, 50.
In a meshing pair of gears, the smaller of the two is often called the pinion, and the larger the wheel or often simply the gear.

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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design

Gear Cutting Techniques

Gears can be cut using forming or generating. In case of the forming method teeth are cut one by one. In generating the cutting
process is continuous. When two wheels are cut to mesh with each other the module of both wheels have to be the same for both
wheels. However, 2 different cutters are needed if the number of teeth are different.
There are a large number of standard modules. Ideally this should mean that a very large no of cutting tools are required to cut all the
gears needed. To overcome this problem a particular gear cutting tool is used to cut gear wheels with a range of number of teeth with
the same module. For a particular module (m) a set of 8 (or 15) cutting tools can be purchased. Using the set with 15 cutting tools
gives more accurate gear profiles.

Gear Materials
The material used for manufacture depends upon strength and service such as wear noise etc. The gears maybe manufactured using
metallic or non-metallic material. The metallic gears can be made of cast-iron, steel or bronze.
Cast-iron is widely used for the manufacture of large gears due to its wearing properties, machineability and ease of producing
complicated shapes by casting. Steel is used when high strength is required. Steel gears are usually heat treated in order to combine
toughness and tooth hardness. Phosphor bronze is widely used for worm-wheels in order to reduce wear.

Design of Gear Drives

The design of gears from considerations of strength and fatigue is normally carried out by the application of codes of practice laid
down by bodies such as the British Standard Institution or the American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA). We will consider
here only the forces which result from the contact between the gears. For spur and helical gears friction is assumed to be negligible so
that the only force between the teeth in contact is the normal force, F.
The following data is needed to design a gear drive:
o The power to be transmitted
o The speed of the driving gear
o The speed of the driven gear (or velocity ratio)
o The centre distance between meshing gears

Requirements to be met in Gear Drive Design

o The gear teeth should have sufficient strength so that they do not fail under static or dynamic loading under normal running
o The gear teeth should have good wear characteristics.
o The use of space and material must be economical.
o The alignment of the gears and deflection of the shafts must be considered because they affect the performance.

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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design
o Lubrication must be satisfactory.

Force Analysis
The failure of gears can principally be attributed to tooth breakage, surface failure and scoring of the teeth surface.
Spur Gears
The force acting at the pressure angle Φ can be subdivided into two components:
the tangential component Ft and the radial component Fr. The radial component
serves no useful purpose. The tangential component Ft transmits the load from one
gear to the other.
The resulting torque, T, is given by:

Helical Gears

Advantages of Helical Gears over Spur Gears

o Helical gears can transmit more power (the teeth are longer)
o Less noise (more than one tooth in contact)
Disadvantages of Helical Gears over Spur Gears
o More complicated design
o An axial force is developed (axial force can be minimized by arranging the Helical Gears in the most appropriate way)
In order to have more than one pair of teeth in contact overlap must be at least equal to the circular pitch such that

It is usually recommended that it should be 15% higher than the circular pitch.

Forces acting in Helical Gears

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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design

Gear Stresses
Gears experience two principle types of stress: (i) bending stress at the root of the teeth due to the transmitted load, and (ii) contact
stresses on the flank of the teeth due to repeated impact of one tooth surface against another.

Bending Stresses (Spur Gears)

The calculation of bending stress in gear teeth can be based on the Lewis formula, which in terms of the diametral pitch is given by:
Where, wt = transmitted load (N)
Pd = diametral pitch (mm) = N/dp
F = Face width (mm)
Y = Lewis form factor
When teeth mesh, the load is delivered to the teeth with some degree of impact. The velocity factor is used to account for this and is
given by;
Where, v = pitch line velocity
Introducing the velocity factor into the Lewis equation gives:

This equation is used for the calculation of bending stresses in gears.

A 20o full depth spur pinion is to transmit 1.25kW at 850rpm. The pinion has 18 teeth. Determine the Lewis bending stress if the
module is 2 and the face width is 25mm.

Wear Failure (due to contact stresses)

Gears can be failed due to wear on the surface of gear teeth. Possible surface failures are pitting, which is a surface fatigue failure
due to many repetitions of high contact stresses, scoring due to failure of lubrication and abrasion due to the presence of foreign
particles. The surface compressive, contact stress for a gear is defined by:
 Wt  1 1  d p sin  d G sin 
 c  C p     where, r1  r2 
 C v F cos   r1 r2  2 2

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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design
and Cv is the velocity factor = Kv and Cp is the elastic coefficient (refer to ……….. )

Note: if the units of Cp are in MPa , Wt in Newtons, r1, r2 in meters, then σc will be in kPa.

Table 2 Values of the Elastic Coefficient Cp ( MPa )

Simple Gear Selection Procedure

The Lewis formula can be used in a provisional spur gear selection procedure for a given transmission power, input and output
speeds. The procedure is outlined below:
1. Select the number of teeth for the pinion and the gear to give the required gear ratio. Note that the minimum number of teeth
permissible when using a pressure angle of 20o is 18. Use standard teeth numbers as listed in a stock gear catalogues.
2. Select a material.
3. Select a module, m, standard table or as listed in a stock gear catalogue.
4. Calculate the pitch diameter, d = m N
5. Calculate the pitch line velocity, V = (d/2)xnx(2π/60).
6. Calculate the dynamic factor, Kv = 6/(6+V).
7. Calculate the transmitted load, Wt = Power/V
8. Calculate an acceptable face width using the Lewis formula, F = Wt/(KvmYσp)
The permissible bending stress, σp, can be taken as σuts / factor of safety, where the factor of safety is set by experience but may
range from 2 to 5.
The design procedure consists of proposing teeth numbers for the gear and pinion, selecting a suitable material, selecting a module
and calculating the various parameters as listed, resulting in a value for the face width. If the face width is greater than those available
in the stock gear catalogue or if the pitch line velocity is too high, repeat the process for a different module. If this does not provide a
sensible solution try a different material etc.

Gear Failures
The gear designer needs to be able to evaluate the various causes of gear wear and failure can be classified as: Breakage, Surface
fatigue (pitting), Wear (abrasive), Plastic flow, Scoring
Gear Tooth Breakage: It is a failure by breaking a whole tooth or a substantial portion of a tooth by either overload or shock (overload
breakage) or by fatigue phenomena (fatigue breakage). The fatigue failure takes many stress cycles to develop and start with a slight
crack. Fatigue failure is prevented by endurance strength calculation. Overload breakage is a secondary effect from excessive wear.
Overload breakage is prevented by strength calculation. Surface fatigue or pitting is a surface failure due to exceeding the endurance
limit of the surface material. Pitting can be characterised by two different types such as initial or corrective pitting and destructive
pitting. Pitting is prevented by surface (contact) endurance calculations.
Abrasive Wear: It is surface injuring caused by fine particles contain in the lubricant or embedded in the tooth surface. The particles
may be metal detached from the gear teeth or bearings, abrasives not completely removed before assembling, sand or scale from
castings, or other impurities in the oil or surrounding atmosphere.
The wear reduces tooth thickness and frequently severely changes the contour of the tooth. The preventive measures to reduce
abrasive wear are:
o Increasing surface hardness and surface quality,
o Reduction of pitch line velocity (if possible),
o Using of special lubrication oils and good lubrication system.
Plastic Flow: Gears fail from plastic flow when the surface yields and deforms under heavy loads. Usually this occurs with soft and
medium hard material. The phenomena may be prevented by increasing surface hardness. Scoring is essentially a lubrication failure.
Tears and scratches appear on the rubbing surfaces of the tooth and considerably influenced by the affinity of one metal for another.
Prevention measures for scoring are the same as for wearing.

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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design
Gear Materials
A wide variety of steels, cast iron, bronzes and non-metallic materials have been used for gears. Designers might well become
hopelessly confused when faced with so many different gear materials except that are good and specific reasons for using each of the
materials that have to adopted for gears. The steels combine the outstanding characteristics of having the greatest strength per unit
volume and may be the lowest cost per weight unit. Therefore, steels are the most commonly used materials for gears. In this section
only steels used for gears ranging from plain carbon steel through the highly alloyed steels and from low to high carbon contents are
discussed. The heat treatment is very important for steel which change the machinability, hardness, strength and wear resistance.
All steels can be divided into two groups:
group I – Steels providing tooth surface hardness BHN<350 (or HB<350)
group II – Steels providing tooth surface hardness BHN>350 (or HB>350)
Group I Steels (BHN<350)
This group consists of medium carbon and alloy steels normalized or normalized and tempered (hardened and tempered).
The main advantages of Group I steels:
1. Low cost of production (machining after heat treatment; no finishing operation needed.)
2. Low cost of materials
3. While in operation the gears from this material improve tooth shape and surface quality (“Wear – In” ability). Therefore
the accuracy of production can be reduced.
The main disadvantages:
Because of low surface hardness the load capacity is not so high comparing with the steels of second group. It is recommended to
have surface hardness of a pinion slightly higher than gear wheel (BHN 10-20).
Group II Steels
This group consist of different type of steels with different heat treatment:
1. Medium carbon plain steels and alloy steels with induction surface hardening (HRC=45-55; no finishing operations are
2. Low carbon plain steels and alloy steels with carburising (HB=58-63). The teeth are usually finished-cut, carburised
and ground.
3. Medium carbon alloy steels with nitriding. The teeth are usually finished before nitriding. If properly done nitride gears
do not distort much (HRC=50-70).
The main advantages of these steels are:
1. High load carrying capacity (compact construction)
(The surface durability of gears roughly proportional to the square of surface hardness.)
1. High cost of production (heat treatment equipment is needed plus finishing operation).
2. High degree of accuracy is required.

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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design

1. A spur pinion has a module of 2.5 and 18 teeth cut on the 20 0 full depth system and is to transmit 4kW power at 1100rpm. Using
the Lewis formula, determine the resulting bending stress if the face width is 30mm.
2. A 20* full depth spur pinion is to transmit 1.75kW at 1200rpm. If the pinion has 18teeth with a module of 2, determine a suitable
value for the face width, based on the Lewis formula, if the bending stress should not exceed 75MPa.
3. Using the Lewis formula, estimate the power rating of a 20* full depth spur pinion having a module of 6, 21 teeth and face width
50mm, if the maximum bending stress is 117MPa. The design speed is 850rpm.
4. A 20-tooth, 20* pressure angle, module 4 cast iron spur pinion is used to drive a 32-tooth cast iron gear. Using equation 4.13,
determine the contact stress if 10.5kW is transmitted. The pinion speed is 950rpm and the face width is 50mm.
5. A pair of straight teeth spur gears having 20o involute full depth teeth is to transmit 16 hp at 300 rpm of the pinion. The speed
ration is 3:1 the allowable static stresses for gear of cast iron and pinion of steel are 600 kgf/cm2 and 1050 kgf/cm2 respectively.
Assume that the number of teeth on pinion = 16 ; Face width = 14 * module ; Velocity factor (Cv) = 4.5/(4.5+v) , v is the pitch line
velocity of in m/sec; and tooth form factor (y) = 0.154 – 0.912/z , z is the no of teeth. Determine the module, face width and pitch
diameters of the gears.

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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design

Spur Gears: Sizes and Tolerances

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ME214 – Machine Elements and Innovative Design

Helical, Worm and Bevel Gears: Types and Modules

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