A gearbox (also spelled “gear box”), which is also commonly referred to as a transmission, is a mechanism used to increase torque while simultaneously decreasing the speed of a motor-powered object or system. Typically located at the junction point of a power shaft, it does so by transferring energy from one device to another. Most often, gearboxes are thought of in conjunction with automobiles. They are, of course, used extensively with automobiles, but they can also be paired with other types of vehicles and technology. These include rotary mowers, helicopters and wind turbines.
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Design of Gearboxes
An individual gear box is constructed carefully, with a specific purpose in mind. For that reason, every gearbox is built with a specific gear ratio, which supplies it with the correct level of force needed for the task at hand. Sometimes, gearboxes create a right angle change in direction. This feature is particularly valued for the proper function of rotary motors in helicopters. No matter its exact configuration, the construction of a gearbox is, by and large, fixed. The only feature of a gearbox that can be modified after its creation is an adjustment that slows an increase in shaft speed and a related torque reduction.
Gearboxes may be made from a number of different materials, though the most common type of materials from which they are made are steel-based metals like stainless steel. Other common metal materials from which gearboxes may be made include aluminum, iron and brass. In addition, some types of gears and/or gears with particular shapes, such as spur gears, may be made using less durable materials like nylon or polycarbonate. In the end, what material or material type a manufacturer selects to make a gearbox directly correlates to the performance the manufacturer wishes for the gearbox. For example, more durable materials equip a gearbox with the larger torque reduction capabilities and an ability to resist the power of stronger motors, making the gearbox more durable as well. Less durable materials, for the same reasons in reverse, are best suited in the construction of gearboxes that will be paired with low power motors. Another consideration that manufacturers make when constructing a gearbox is its teeth, as the teeth of a gearbox significantly affect its strength and efficiency. A gearbox with straight teeth, for example, is typically only employed in a low-speed application, while a gearbox with helical teeth, which is much stronger and provides much greater efficiency in terms of torque reduction, is much more likely to be purchased for use with a high-speed application.
Types of Gearboxes
Gearboxes are typically divided into three main categories: manual, automatic and continuously variable. Manual gearboxes, also known as manual transmission or stick-shifts, are gearboxes used in automotive applications that shift with the help of an operator. To shift the gear, said operator will use some sort of lever, such as a clutch, brake pedal, movable gear stick or hand lever. Some manual gearboxes allow a driver to shift to any selected gear at any time, while others restrict their movement at one time to only the gear below or the gear above. Automatic gearboxes or automatic transmission (AT), on the other hand, shift gears without the assistance of an operator. Instead, they, as one might assume, shift automatically based on cues given by the vehicle or system itself. Finally, continuously variable gearboxes or transmission (CVT), which also work automatically, shift through a continuous range of different gear ratios, as opposed to a fixed number of gear ratios. Typically, continuously variable gearboxes are found in snowmobiles, golf carts, small tractors, motor scooters and other small motorized vehicles and utility vehicles. Wind turbines are also gearboxes. Through the very slow rotation of the turbines themselves and the large amount of torque generated therein, wind turbines are able to transfer power to electricity generators, which have much faster rotational speeds and lower torque outputs. Because wind turbines, which may be considered large scale gearboxes, contain many different gears and stages, the electricity generator into which their power goes can still offer consistent output, even when the turbine’s rate of rotation inevitably fluctuates.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Gearboxes
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