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If you’re machine manufacturer or user looking for the right type of gears, and the issues of cost, space, and efficiency, worm gears are likely to cross your mind. Certainly, worm gears do not feature the most efficient design, however, there are so many advantages of these gears that make them a suitable choice.
How These Gears Work
There are two components in a worm gear–worm gear and worm wheel. Mostly, steel is used to make the worm wheel is bronze. Unlike other gear types that apply a rolling action, worm gears just slide. The sliding action results in friction which negatively affects the efficiency of these gears. Usually, the efficiency of worm gears may range from 40% to 90%. Lower efficiency means that these gears will use more power to do the same task than if a more efficient gear type is used.
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Solving the Concern of Worm Gear Efficiency
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The sliding of the worm gear and worm wheel negatively affects the efficiency of the system, but there’s a way around the issue. The most reliable way to deal with the issue of efficiency in worm gear is to lubricate and reduce friction. Applying an oil lubricant in a worm gearbox will minimize friction, heating, and loss of energy. Efficiency of the gear system increases with reduction in friction.
Because the system employs two different metals, one for the worm wheel and the other for the worm gear, an enhanced efficiency level may also be achieved. There’s less friction between the bronze worm wheel and the steel worm gear owing to the softness of the former.
The Reasons Worm Gears are Still Viable
The efficiency issues of worm gears notwithstanding, the gears offer numerous advantages that make them perfect for a several applications. Firstly, the gears are quieter in operation due to their sliding action, unlike other gear types. Also, it is possible to have a low number of teeth on worm gears, making it possible to attain higher ratios with just a couple of gears. And because of the softness of the bronze worm wheel, these gears are able to contain shock better.
Another benefit of worm gears is compact size. Because you can achieve higher ratios with fewer gear sets, you can also come up with smaller worm gear boxes. Additionally, self-locking characteristics can be added to worm gears to suit them for braking. It may not be possible to back-drive worm gears sometimes, and that’s great for cranes, lifts, and other areas where braking is important.
If you’re a manufacturer or end-user, you’ll find worm gears to be one of the most ideal due to their numerous benefits.