How Gear Manufacturing Can Overcome the Backlash Problem

July 10, 2018 / Tuesday

In some gear systems, too much or too little backlash can be a problem. Fortunately, there are a few techniques we can use when manufacturing gears to insure proper backlash.   Too much backlash and the gear mesh is sloppy, too little backlash and the gears have a potential to bind.  Because of this it is very important to know how the requirements for the gear system and optimize the backlash for the best performance.

In case you aren’t familiar, gear backlash refers to both an error in motion when two or more gears are moving, as well as the small spaces between gears that are responsible for those errors. Backlash tends to occur in all systems but is most critical in systems where gears reverse direction.  The more backlash, the more “slop” when a system reverses direction. 

Imagining a System Without Backlash

It’s hypothetically possible to have a system with gears that reverse their momentum, with no backlash. In this system, the gears would need to be manufactured and designed absolutely perfectly. You wouldn’t be able to use any lubricant, and you wouldn’t be able to allow any kind of thermal expansion or retraction. Unfortunately, it’s practically impossible to construct such a scenario. So instead, we need to focus on optimizing backlash.

What Gear Manufacturers Do

In some applications, backlash isn’t much of a concern. But for applications where minimizing backlash is a priority, there are some techniques we can use to reduce or eliminate the problem. For example, you can split some gears on a plane perpendicular to their axes, then use the two halves with springs to provide more torque to the system. We can also taper teeth in its axial direction, and then allow the system to take up slack by letting the gear slide in that same direction.

Ultimately, we can also reduce the impact of the backlash problem by doubling down on our commitment to producing top-quality gears. If you’re ready to learn more about Federal Gear, or if you need a quote for your next gear manufacturing job, contact us today!

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