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Elasto-hydrodynamic Lubrication in Spur Gear and Helical Gear Contacts (Mechanical Project)

The gears in a transmission are lubricated to prevent their premature failure as a result of pitting and wear on the tooth surfaces. Furthermore, the lubricant also limits the rise in surface temperature of the gears, which could otherwise lead to failure as a result of scuffing.

The purpose of this thesis was to construct a fairly realistic theoretical lubrication model for spur and helical gears, the primary output parameters of this model being film thickness and flash temperatures, which would help in the identification of areas on the gear tooth surface prone to the aforementioned modes of failure. This thesis was carried out at the Gear Technology group in Scania CV AB in collaboration with the department of machine design at KTH.

Gear lubrication is tricky as it entails the determination of parameters such as loads, curvatures, and velocities; which are different along the entire surface of the gear tooth. Primarily the loads are hard to obtain as they are dynamic in nature; the load is shared between different pairs of teeth during motion.

The calculation of velocities and curvatures in an area of the gear surface called the tip relief can also not be done in a straightforward manner. These issues were simplified to a large extent with the assistance of a program called Helical 3D; owing to its powerful contact analysis algorithm, values of the film thickness and flash temperatures could be determined in almost every region where contact occurred between the gear teeth.

The results of the lubrication model showed a reduction in film thickness in the tip relief area of the gear tooth surface; which meant that there were higher chances for the incidence of pitting and wear in this region. This was later confirmed when photographs from experimental tests illustrated a pitting line in the tip relief region of the helical gear.

It was also inferred from the model that the occurrence of pitting could be greatly reduced if a quadratic tip relief modification were applied when compared to the existing linear modification used at Scania. Another important conclusion drawn was that thermal effects contributed to a significant decrease in the film thickness. Furthermore, the model showed higher flash temperatures close to the tip of the gear tooth surface, and photographs from experiments conducted showed the prescence of scuffing marks there.
Source: KTH
Author: Chitta, Sudeendra

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