Self-Locking Gears: Design and Potential Applications


In most of the gear drives, when the driving torque is suddenly reduced as a result of power off, torsional vibration, power outage or any mechanical failure at the transmission input side, then gears will be rotating either in the same direction driven by the system inertia, or in the opposite direction driven by the resistant output load due to gravity, spring load, etc. The latter condition is known as backdriving. During inertial motion or backdriving, the driven output shaft (load) becomes the driving one and the driving input shaft (load) becomes the driven one. There are many gear drive applications where the output shaft driving is less desirable. In order to prevent it, different types of brake or clutch devices are used. However, there are also solutions in gear transmission that prevent inertial motion or backdriving using self-locking gears without any additional devices. The most common one is a worm gear with a low lead angle. In self-locking worm gears, torque applied from the load side (worm gear) is blocked, i.e. cannot drive the worm. However, their application comes with some limitations: the crossed axis shafts' arrangement, relatively high gear ratio, low speed, low gear mesh efficiency, increased heat generation, etc.
The paper describes the design approach as well as potential applications of the parallel axis self-locking gears. These gears, unlike the worm gears don't have such application limitations. They can utilize any gear ratio from 1:1 and higher. They can be external, internal, or incorporated into the planetary gear stage or multistage gear system. Their gear mesh efficiency is significantly higher than the worm gears and closer to conventional gears. As a result they generate less heat. The self-locking can be designed to prevent either the inertia driving, or backdriving, or both. The paper explains the principle of the self-locking process for gears with symmetric and asymmetric teeth profile, and shows their suitability for different applications. It defines the main parameters of gear geometry and operating conditions. It also describes potential self-locking gear applications and references to related publications.
ISBN: 978-1-55589-992-9 Pages: 8 Authors: A.L. Kapelevich and E. Taye
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