Heavy duty gears are generally made of iron and steel and it’s been that way for hundreds of years. However, heavy steel gears are just that - heavy. When all this mass is used to assemble a moving vehicle, the result is a heavy moving vehicle; one that uses a lot of fuel to move around. That’s why engineers have migrated to other lighter materials for use in gears that are used in easier duty applications. Materials such as polymers and composites are generally used.
Researchers are blurring the lines, though. A group at Japan’s Gifu University are combining carbon fiber in their plastic gears and they are thinking that these new gears might someday replace metal ones in many applications. In particular, in automotive engines and gear boxes.
To create these gears was classic engineering; identify the weakest parts of a plastic gear and then improve them. This weakest part is where the teeth connect to the gear core. From there, they then added a thin layer of carbon fiber running through each tooth. This carbon fiber is tough and ultimately helps to strengthen and reinforce the area.
Due to the use of plastic and carbon fiber, producing such components is said to be much cheaper than using metal and also considerably lighter. Replace enough gears and your vehicle will be lighter as well as get better gas mileage.
In a previous posting on my blog I discussed the 3D printer revolution and one can easily see the application of 3D printing here. It won’t be here for a while but you can see how car dealerships could be “printing out” replacement parts right in the dealership for customers.
The researchers Gifu University are hoping that come 2017 they can commercialize the creation of plastic and carbon fiber gears. Initial use will certainly be limited but as acceptance and use grows, we are likely to see a lot of these advanced technology gears.
Thanks to Tech Support at: Reedman Toll