If you need to address the issues of costs, space, and efficiency as a machine manufacturer or user looking for the perfect gear system, you’ll probably consider getting worm gears. Definitely, worm gears are not the best when it comes to efficiency, but they provide so many practical uses that make them a perfect choice.
How These Gears Work
Worm gears have two components–worm gear and worm wheel. Usually, the worm gear part is steel and the worm wheel is made of 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. The usual range of efficiency for worm gears is between 40% and 90%. Because of the lower efficiency of these gears, more power will be used for the same task than would be the case if a more efficient kind of gear was applied.
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Resolving the Issue of Worm Gear Efficiency
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Owing to the sliding of the worm gear and worm wheel, their efficiency is impacted, but the matter can be managed. The most reliable way to deal with the issue of efficiency in worm gear is to lubricate and reduce friction. Use of oil lubricants in worm gearboxes results in reduced friction, heat generation, and energy loss. 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 You Should Still Use Worm Gears
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. Likewise, it is viable to have a low number of threads on worm gears, enhancing the attainment of higher ratios with just few gears. And because of the softness of the bronze worm wheel, these gears are able to contain shock better.
Compact size is another good characteristic of worm gears. It is practical to make compact worm gearboxes due to the possibility to attaining higher ratios with only a few gear sets. Additionally, self-locking characteristics can be added to worm gears to suit them for braking. Where back-driving of worm gears is impossible, these can work in lifts and cranes, or any other application that require braking.
Worm gears are some of the most practical for manufacturers as well as end-users because of their many benefits.