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# Gear ratios for compound gear trains of minimum weight

## MOSES FRANK ODUORI

Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, The University of Nairobi,
Nairobi, Kenya.
ABSTRACT
Minimisation of the overall weight of a compound gear train of arbitrary number of stages
is formulated as a standard constrained minimisation problem and solved by the method
of Lagrange multipliers. The solution so obtained is discussed and its applicability
evaluated for the special case of a gear train in which the face widths of all the gear
wheels are equal. Moreover, given that the face widths of all the gear wheels in the train
are equal, the solution is further evaluated with the additional constraint that the radii of
all the pinions be equal. Application of the results should require far less computing time,
compared to the many available numerical methods that may be used for the same
purpose.
1 INTRODUCTION
Hunt and Garver !"
!
stated in their boo# that on many agricultural machines
\$
there are
more mechanisms for the transmission of power than there are mechanisms for the
performance of functional operations. %ndeed mechanisms for the transmission of power
are ubiquitous on agricultural as well as other machines. &aney and 'utler \$" asserted
that power train failures could not be tolerated( either the power train performs effectively
or not at all. Given these implications of the importance of power trains, their design
should command substantial currency in the domain of machine design.
)f the many power transmission mechanisms available, gear drives are probably the most
versatile, being almost unlimited in terms of power transmission capacity and speed of
operation. *ommonly, gear drives ta#e the form of multi+stage compound gear trains
composed of straight spur or parallel+a,is helical gear wheels. This paper addresses one,
often desirable, design aspect of such gear trains( the minimisation of gear train weight
through manipulation of gear ratios of the meshing pinion+gear pairs. -ssentially, this is a
generalisation of an earlier presentation by .a/e#as 0".
2 ANALYSIS
!
1umbers in square brac#ets such as this refer to cited literature as listed in the references section.
\$
This wor# is part of an endeavour to develop the power train of the power tiller, an agricultural machine.
Gear Ratios for Compound Gear Trains of Minimum Weight
2.1 Assumptions and definitions
The compound gear train of arbitrary number of stages
2 3n
, whose weight is to be
minimi/ed, is illustrated in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1 S!"emati! e#e\$ation of a !ompound gea% t%ain of a%&it%a%' num&e% of stages (n)
!
R
\$
R
0
R
! \$ n
R
n
R
\$

Fig. 2 S!"emati! p#an of a !ompound gea% t%ain of a%&it%a%' num&e% of stages (n)
!
b
\$
b
0
b
4
b
! \$ n
b
n
b
\$
The assumptions made in this analysis are the following5
!. That gear tooth face widths 3denoted
i
b
, for
n i \$ ,..., 0 , \$ , !
, in Fig. 22 and the radii
of pinion gears 3denoted ! \$ j
R
, for
n j ,..., 0 , \$ , !
, in Fig. 12 shall be determined so
as to be consistent with strength and rigidity requirements and shall conform to
standard gear design practices.
\$. That all gear wheels in the train are made of the same material of mass density
2 3
.
This is quite common in practice.
\$ of 6
Gear Ratios for Compound Gear Trains of Minimum Weight
0. That the overall gear ratio
2 3G
is predetermined, and is therefore not a variable in the
conte,t of minimisation of gear train weight.
%t is also common practice to ma#e the face widths of meshing gear wheels equal.
Mathematically, this situation may be represented as follows5
n j b b
j j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! (
\$ ! \$

3!2
Moreover, in the conte,t of this analysis, minimisation of gear train weight refers to
manipulation of the gear ratios of meshing pairs of gear wheels so as to achieve a gear
train of minimum weight. %n other words, face widths shall not be manipulated for the
purpose of minimisation of gear train weight.
2.2 Fo%mu#ation and so#ution of t"e minimi*ation p%o&#em
)nly e,ternal spur gears or parallel helical gears, in a compound gear train such as that
illustrated in Fig. 1+ shall be considered here. The analysis that follows is based on the
proposition that overall weight of such a gear train is directly proportional to the overall
weight of the gear blan#s, assuming such blan#s to be solid cylinders. *onsidering the
face width
2 3
i
b
2 3
i
R
of the th i gear wheel in an n +stage
compound gear train, the total weight
2 3W
of the gear train may be e,pressed as follows5

n
i
i i
R b C W
\$
!
\$
3\$2
where C is a constant of proportionality whose value depends on the units of measure
used for the various quantities. The odd subscripts 3
! \$ j i
, for
n j ,..., 0 , \$ , !
2 refer to
the pinions, while the even subscripts 3
j i \$
, for
n j ,..., 0 , \$ , !
2 refer to the larger gears
in the meshing pairs of gear.

Fig. , I##ust%ation of stage gea% %atio and o\$e%a## gea% %atio
!

!
G
0

\$
G
7

! \$

n
n
G
n \$

2n!

2n
1ote that in Fig. ,5
n i
i i
..., , 4 , 0 , \$ (
! \$ \$ \$

Moreover, the overall gear ratio is defined as follows5
!
\$

n
G
%n accordance with the bloc# diagram in Fig. ,, the overall gear ratio
2 3G
, which is
predetermined and therefore constant for a given gear train, is5
0 of 6
Gear Ratios for Compound Gear Trains of Minimum Weight

n
j
j n j
G G G G G G
!
\$ !

302
where
2 3
j
G
denotes the gear ratio at the
th j
stage of the gear train.
The problem of weight minimi/ation is symmetrical in that it does not matter which end
of the gear train is regarded as the input end. However, in most practical applications, the
gear train is a speed reducer, therefore the pinion is the driver. %n such cases, it follows
that5
n j
R
R
G
j
j
j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! (
\$
! \$

342
The normali/ed relative weight is now defined as follows5
\$
!
\$
!
R b C
W
W
n

372
.rom equations 3\$2 and 372, it follows that5

1
]
1

n
i
i i
n
R b
R b
W
\$
!
\$
!
\$
!
\$ \$
382
1ow, in accordance with equation 342, the following can be written5

,
_

,
_

j
j
j
j j j
G R
R
R
R
R
R
R
R
!
!
! \$
! \$
\$
!
! \$
!
\$
392
Moreover, in accordance with equation 3!2, the following can be written5
!
! \$
!
\$
b
b
b
b
j j

3:2
Moreover, equation 382 may be re;written as follows5

1
1
]
1

,
_

,
_

n
j
j j j j
n
R
R
b
b
R
R
b
b
W
!
\$
!
\$
!
\$
\$
!
! \$
!
! \$
362
.rom equations 392, 3:2 and 362, it follows that5

'

1
1
]
1

,
_

,
_

n
j j
j j
n
G R
R
b
b
W
!
\$
\$
!
! \$
!
! \$
!
!
3!<2
1ow the minimi/ation problem may be formally stated as follows5
4 of 6
Gear Ratios for Compound Gear Trains of Minimum Weight

'

1
1
]
1

,
_

,
_

n
j
j
n
j j
j j
n
G G
G R
R
b
b
W
!
!
\$
\$
!
! \$
!
! \$
<
!
!
constraint the to sub=ect
Minimi/e
)n using the Lagrange multiplier
2 3
, the following function may be considered whose
relevant partial derivatives will be /ero when
n
W
is minimum 4"5
G W F
n
+
3!!2
Hence the following5
j
j j
j
j
G
G
R
R
b
b
G
G
F
+

,
_

,
_

,
_

\$
!
! \$
!
! \$
0
\$
<
or5
n j
G
R
R
b
b
G
j j
j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! (
\$
!
constant a
\$
!
! \$
!
! \$
\$

,
_

,
_

,
_

3!\$2
)n letting
! j
in equation 3!\$2, one obtains the following5
constant a
\$
!
\$
!

,
_

G
G
3!02
.rom equations 3!\$2 and 3!02, the following e,pression can be obtained, which, within
the assumptions made in this analysis, is a statement of the condition for
n
W
to be
minimum5
n j
G
G
R
R
b
b
j j j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! (
\$
!
\$
!
! \$
!
! \$

,
_

,
_

,
_

3!42
-quation 3!42 may be re+written in terms of pitch circle diameters, as follows5
n j
G
G
D
D
b
b
j j j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! (
\$
!
\$
!
! \$
!
! \$

,
_

,
_

,
_

3!4a2
, DISCUSSION
,.1 Inte%p%etations of t"e so#ution
'y using equation 3!2 it can be deduced that5
\$
\$
!
\$
!
! \$
b
b
b
b
b
b
j j j

3!72
7 of 6
Gear Ratios for Compound Gear Trains of Minimum Weight
Moreover, by using equation 342, it can be deduced that5
\$
!
!
\$
! \$
hence ,
R
R
G
R
R
G
j
j
j

,
_

,
_

,
_

,
_

j
j
j
j j
R
R
R
R
R
R
R
R
G
G
\$
\$
!
! \$
!
\$
\$
! \$
!
3!82
.rom equations 3!42, 3!72 and 3!82, the following can be readily obtained5
\$
\$
\$
\$
!
! \$
\$
!
! \$
\$
\$

,
_

,
_

,
_

,
_

j
j j j
R
R
R
R
R
R
b
b
\$
\$
\$
\$
\$

,
_

,
_

j
j
R
R
b
b
\$
\$ \$
\$
\$ \$ j j
R b R b
Multiplying both sides of the above e,pression by the number yields the following5
n j R b R b
j j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! ( constant a
\$
\$ \$
\$
\$ \$
3!92
Thus, within the assumptions made in this paper, the gear train will be of minimum
weight if the volumes of the blan#s of the larger gear wheels in all the meshing pairs of
gear wheels are made equal. This interpretation of the solution has an intuitive appeal.
-quation 3!92 may be re+written in term of the pitch circle diameters, as follows5
n j D b D b
j j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! ( constant a
\$
\$ \$
\$
\$ \$
3!9a2
Alternatively, equation 3!42 may be re+written as follows5
\$
!
\$
!
\$
\$
\$
! \$
!
! \$

,
_

,
_

,
_

,
_

G
G
R
R
R
R
b
b
j j
j
j j
3!:2
.rom equations 342, 3!72 and 3!:2, the following can be readily obtained5
\$
!
\$
\$
!
\$
!
\$

,
_

,
_

,
_

G
G
G
R
R
b
b
j
j
j j
\$
!
\$
!
\$
!
\$
!

,
_

,
_

,
_

G R
R
b
b
j j
8 of 6
Gear Ratios for Compound Gear Trains of Minimum Weight
\$
\$ \$
\$
!
\$
! ! j j
R b G R b
Multiplying both sides of the above equation by yields the following5
( ) n j R b G R b
j j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! ( constant a
\$
\$ \$
\$
!
\$
! !
3!62
-quation 3!62 may be re+written in term of the pitch circle diameters, as follows5
( ) n j D b G D b
j j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! ( constant a
\$
\$ \$
\$
!
\$
! !
3!6a2
Thus, within the assumptions made in this paper, the gear train will be of minimum
weight if the volumes of the blan#s of the larger gears in all the meshing pairs of gear
wheels are made equal to the volume of the >first? pinion in the gear train divided by
\$
!
G . This interpretation too has an intuitive appeal.
,.2 T"e !ase of a gea% t%ain -it" !onstant fa!e -idt"
The face width
2 3b
of gear teeth is not standardi/ed but according to @uvinall 7" it is
common practice to adopt the range m b m !4 6 < < , where m is the module. %t is feasible
that in some applications all the gear wheels that comprise a gear train may be of equal
face width. %mposing this constraint onto equation 3!92, results in the following5
n j R R
j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! ( constant a
\$ \$

3\$<2
-quation 3\$<2 may be re+written in term of the pitch circle diameters, as follows5
n j D D
j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! ( constant a
\$ \$

3\$<a2
,., T"e !ase of a gea% t%ain -it" !onstant fa!e -idt" and !onstant pinion %adii
%f in addition to the face width being constant throughout the gear train, the radii of all the
pinions are made equal, then from equation 3\$<2, the following can be obtained5
n j G G
R
R
R
R
j
j
j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! ( constant a
!
\$
!
\$
! \$

n j G G
n
j
..., , 0 , \$ , ! ( constant a
3\$!2
-quation 3\$!2 is a statement of the result that was obtained by .a/e#as 302 when he
assumed a gear train of constant face width, pinion radii and module. However, the
assumption of constant module appears to have been unnecessary, as it has not been made
anywhere in this paper. %n fact, gear ratio is not a function of the module. Therefore, in
9 of 6
Gear Ratios for Compound Gear Trains of Minimum Weight
an attempt to minimise gear train si/e and weight through manipulation of gear ratios, the
module, as such, should be of no relevance.
. CONCLUSIONS
Aithin the assumptions made in this paper, minimum weight of a compound gear train of
arbitrary number of stages will be achieved if5
!. The volumes of the blan#s of the larger gears in all the meshing pairs of gear wheels
are made equal. This result has an intuitive appeal.
\$. The volumes of the blan#s of the larger gears in all the meshing pairs of gear wheels
are made equal to the volume of the blan# of the >first? pinion in the gear train
divided by
\$
!
G , where
!
G
is the gear ratio of the first stage. This result too has an
intuitive appeal.
0. .or the case of a gear train in which the face widths are equal throughout, the gear
train will be of minimum weight if the pitch radii of all the larger gear wheels are
4. .or the case of a gear train in which the radii of all the pinions are equal, given that
the face widths are equal throughout, the train will be of minimum weight if the gear
ratios of all the stages are made equal.
R/F/R/NC/S
!. HB1T, C)11-LL &. and L-DT-& A. GA&E-& 3!6902. Fa%m 0a!"ine%'
0e!"anisms( chapter !\$. The %owa Dtate Bniversity Fress, Ames %owa, BDA.
\$. &A1-G, &BDD-LL &. and HA&L C. 'BTL-& 3!676). Criteria for the Design and
Development of Farm Euipment. Agricultural -ngineering .1302( pp.!09+!4!.
0. .AI-HAD, G. A. 3!6972. !ptimal "peed Ratio of Constant #it\$h Gearing.
Transactions of the ADM-, Deries '( @ournal of -ngineering for %ndustry 23342.
4. G&)DDMA1, DTA1L-G L. 3!6992. Ca#!u#us( chapter !:. Academic Fress. 1ew
Gor#, Dan .rancisco and London.
7. @BE%1ALL, &)'-&T *. 3!6:02. Fundamenta#s of 0a!"ine Component Design(
chapter !7. @ohn Ailey and Dons. 1ew Gor#, *hichester, 'risbane, Toronto, and
Dingapore.
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