Rather, they carry on two functions: reducing rotational speed from the source into more manageable speeds, and with the concerted efforts of the gears, simultaneously increase torque, so output can be used for mending, milling, and many other processes.
While speed reducers are utilized by a several industries, the most common industries in which they have applications are aerospace, automotive, material handling, construction, food and beverage processing, recreation, oil and gas, and textiles. Specific applications they serve include conveyors, pumps, printing presses, compressors, automation equipment, generators and robotics, metallurgy, and mine and construction machinery.
The first person to ever record a description of anything like a speed reducer was a Muslim polymath named Ismail al-Jazari. In a book that he wrote around 1206 AD, called The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, al-Jazari talked about gearbox arrangements.
After that, no one really talked about or attempted to use gearboxes until the 19th century. This started in 1817, when a British manufacturing and engineering company called Watt & Boulton Engine designed a gearbox featuring two gears and a rotational speed governor. Around 60 years later, in 1881, engineers at de Dion-Bouton, a French company, started manufacturing gearboxes to be installed in steam-powered cars. Just seven years later, another set of Frenchmen, Emile Levassor and Louis-Rene Panhard, invented the gear and drive shaft assembly. Its goal was to generate the power needed for mechanical transmission.
In 1904, a set of American brothers, the Sturtevant brothers, invented what they called the “horseless carriage gearbox.” What they invented was actually an early automatic power transmission speed reducer. Unfortunately, because they did not have access to adequate metal technology, the gearboxes could not thrive. Instead, they often broke down because they could not handle gear ratio shifts. In 1908, Henry Ford rolled out his Model T automobile. It shifted gears using planetary gearbox speed reducers.
For the first part of the 20th century, manufacturers mainly focused on developing speed reducer gears for use in the automotive industry. Over time, as technology evolved, this changed. Today, manufacturers produce speed reducers in a wide range of sizes for a wide range of applications, from sophisticated robotics to conventional bottling and beverage practices. Modern speed reducers boast high precision, energy efficiency, improved reduction ratios, complex design possibilities, and versatility. As the years go on, we expect engineers to only advance these qualities.
Speed reducers service various devices, and they are offered with a variety of specific loads and torque capacities, though they are all made from strong, durable metals like steel.
To make speed reducers, manufacturers must start by making the gears and gear shafts. They make gears using cutting and forming processes like blanking, broaching, form milling, and/or hobbing. They make gear shafts using metal forming processes including forging, extrusion, casting, and the like.
Once they have made the gears and gear shafts, manufacturers move on to the gear housings. Generally, they make these with CNC die casting equipment.
Next, they put together the gear motors, which are made up of a number of parts, including an electric power source (AC or DC). Then, they take all the parts and assemble them to make one speed reducer. As a final touch, manufacturers often add lubrication to the speed reducer to help it resist abrasion and corrosion from heat and friction.
Manufacturers fabricate speed reducers using steel, hardened steel, or plastic. Steels are popular because of their durability, abrasion resistance, and corrosion resistance. Plastic is a good substitute for metal when a customer is looking to reduce the product’s weight or cost. Plastic speed reducers also have the added benefits of low speed meshing and dirt tolerance.
Considerations and Customization
When designing speed reducers, manufacturers consider a number of different application requirements and specifications, such as gear pitch, gear output, input and output torque capacities, and load capacities. Based on these, they can choose the details of product features, including its reduction ratio (the ratio of input speed to output speed), its size, and its total number of gears.
To make your speed reducer work at optimum level for your application, manufacturers can customize it in a number of different ways. In addition to customizing your speed reducer size, reduction ratio and gear numbers, they may also outfit them with extra speed control elements, like sheaves, v-belts, sprockets, or chain drives.
Speed reducers have any number of different features, but by and large, they feature an input shaft, an output shaft, gears, gearboxes, and a gear motor.
Speed reducers accomplish the desired speed shift when the motor sends power to the reducer’s input shaft, where it then converts said power into a lower output speed, so that the reducer can transfer it to the connected load through the output shaft.
Sometimes, more general speed reducers are referred to interchangeably, though they are different. Such types include gear reducers, gear drives, gearboxes, and gearmotors.
Gear reducers handle heavy shock loads and minimize total power and machine size. They offer the advantages of low consumption and a light weight, coupled with a steady startup and heavy transmission torque.
Gear drives increase the torque of a variable speed power source or glean a variable output speed from a constant speed power source. They do so by, with the help of gear ratios, changing the direction, torque, and speed of rotating shafts. (Gear ratios represent the relation between a gearmotor input speed and a gear head output speed.)
Gear boxes, which contain input and output shafts, plus a set of gears, only offer the service of lowering motor speed. They do so via a decrease in output speed and an increase in torque. Gearboxes are also known as gearbox speed reducers or gearheads.
Gearmotors work in conjunction with gear boxes or gear heads to increase or decrease motor speed. They acquire access to this speed by turning the electrical energy of either an AC motor or a DC motor and turning into mechanical energy.
In addition to generalized motors, speed reducers are available to meet a variety of specialized needs. Specialized speed reducers include shaft mounted speed reducers, cyclo reducers, planetary gearboxes, parallel shaft speed reducers, inline gear reducers, right angle gear boxes, variable speed reducers, worm gearboxes, and right-angle gear boxes.
Shaft mounted speed reducers (shaft mount reducers) are mounted directly onto the drive shaft and for that reason, as well as the fact that they’re compact, do not require a foundation or coupling.
Cyclo reducers, also known as cycloidal speed reducers, slow input shaft speed by using rolling elements at a chosen ratio. Typically, these reducers, which include many types of RV gearboxes, consist of a circular disc that rotates off center.
Planetary gearboxes get their name from their composition. They consist of a sun gear, planet gears, and a ring gear. By revolving around the sun gear, different planet gears can produce a variety of reduction rates. Their goal is to lower the torque or speed of a rotating input shaft.
Helical gear reducers, or helical speed reducers, work using helical gears. These gears feature shafts on parallel axes, and teeth cut on the helices. Helical gearboxes offer smooth and quiet gear ratio shifts and work best in high-speed applications.
Bevel gear reducers feature intersecting shafts. They are useful in a wide variety of settings, from cars to printing presses.
Parallel shaft speed reducers slow things down using gears. They get their name from the position of their speed reducer shaft and motor which, which are on parallel planes. Parallel gear shaft reducers are perfect for small spaces because they can be very flat.
Inline gear reducers decrease incoming speed, direction, or torque of larger systems, with the goal of helping other system parts handle its power and operate well. They influence the input shaft using gear ratios that are aligned along the centerline of the input shaft, or, to put it another way, they align the output shaft with the input shaft.
Variable speed reducers, or drives, control the rotational speed and conserve the energy of electric motors. Depending on the application, variable speed reducers can be mechanical, hydraulic, electronic, or electromechanical. Often, they work in conjunction with speed variators, which are devices that allow for continual gear ratio shifts. Also, they may work with direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) motors, though most often they work with the latter.
Worm gearboxes, also known as worm speed reducers, worm gear speed reducers, or worm gear reducers, are compactly designed gearboxes. They are used in applications requiring low horsepower, along with the maintenance of high shock tolerance and high gear ratios.
Right angle gearboxes are impressive speed reducers that have up to 98% efficiency levels. The “right angle” in their name refers to the position of the input shafts, which are perpendicular to the output shafts. Right angle boxes are commonly found in glass cutting equipment and printing presses.
Customers use speed reducers for many reasons. Their many benefits include performance improvement, minimal energy loss, increased equipment lifespan, speed optimization, and flexible configuration options. Also, newer speed reducers require less fuel or electricity to work, furthering efficiency even more. As reduction ratios continue to reach new heights and designs become more complex, manufacturers are meeting new goals and creating greater power capacities.
Examples of typical speed reducer accessories include lubricant, oil pumps, oil cooler, bell housings, paddle shifts, shift levers, slip yokes, and gear position displays. To find out which accessories might offer you the best success, talk to your supplier.
Different industries, applications, and governmental authorities require speed reducers meet different standards. So, the only way to know for sure the standard requirements to which your speed reducer must adhere is by talking to your industry leaders. However, in general, we can talk about a few common speed reducer standards. First, we have NEMA. NEMA, or the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, is the largest American electrical manufacturing trade association. NEMA releases standard guidelines used in a number of industries to ensure safety. In the USA, all speed reducers used in the workplace must be OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) approved. Sometimes your speed reducer requires specialty certification. For example, if you make accessible vehicles, your speed reducers must be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) approved.
Things to Consider
There are many different types of speed reducers, so the best way to approach speed reducer selection is by considering your application. The application is what dictates which type of speed reducer will satisfy your needs.
Once you know the application, the next step is looking into the specifications, including mounting position, efficiency, torque, horsepower, speed, and service factor. Among them, the
most important factors are torque and service factor.
You need to know how much torque is needed for a machine to work optimally. For application in simple machines, determining torque is easy. However, if you do not have the handbook for a machine it can get difficult. You need to consider many factors, such as coefficient of friction, gravity, inertia, as well as acceleration and deceleration. If it is too much of a task you may need the help of an engineer to figure out the right torque. Alternatively, you can deduce the torque by noting the ampere of the motor from which horsepower can be calculated. Further, with the use of relationship between horsepower and torque, you can deduce the torque required.
A motor does not perform uniformly, over time its performance goes down, and if the motor is run above its overload capacity, it can break down. Therefore, to protect speed reducers, they come with service factor inscribed on them, which is a measure of overload capacity a reducer can operate at over a period without being damaged. The service factor usually is a number, for instance, 1.15, which means the speed reducer can manage 15 percent of overload than the rated capacity without aberrations. Anything above that amount will damage it. When making a decision regarding the service factor, you need to consider a number of things, including load characteristics, power sources, starts and stops, and length of workdays. To put it simply, if you put a heavier load than what service factor says, the life of the gearbox goes down. Therefore, it is important that for different purposes, you choose the appropriate service factor. If not, your speed reducer will fall apart soon.
Choosing the Right Manufacturer for You
No matter how much information you gather, you will not get a superior speed reducer, and possibly not even a good speed reducer, unless you work with the right manufacturer. Who is the right manufacturer? The right manufacturer is the one that understands your requirements, has the capability to meet your requirements, can work within your budget and timeline, and can deliver to you. In addition, the right manufacturer will provide high quality customer service. Find a company like this by checking out those speed reducer manufacturers we have listed on this page. You’ll find them wedged in between these bits of information. Check out their profiles to get started. Good luck!
Speed Reducer Informational Video