Lubricating Gears for Optimal Performance & Minimal Maintenance

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Gears are one of the most commonly used mechanisms to transmit power within various industries and environments. Gears combine high load capacity with speed and durability. With gear transmissions, you can also regulate speed by increasing and/or decreasing the speed. Gears are therefore widely used in gearboxes, drives and propulsion mechanisms; making them essential to the efficiency of operations within varying industries.

 

Why is Gear Lubrication Important?

With many gears, the actual contact and therefore all power transmission can be reduced to 1 tooth pair that makes contact. The teeth do not immediately make full contact, they roll and slide over each other. Many gears, therefore, have high sliding friction, mainly when the teeth make and break contact, and rolling friction around the contact line or even contact point on a tooth pair on which all the forces rest. This naturally creates a high risk of tooth wear, which can lead to damage and even breakage of the teeth; leading to unexpected maintenance and repair downtime. To reduce friction and drastically reduce the risk of wear in gears, sourcing the right gear lubricant is essential.

Within gears, high friction can also lead to high temperatures that can lead to metal deformation. In addition to lubrication, the cooling of gear transmissions, especially at higher speeds, is a requirement that the correct lubricant must meet.

 

Considerations for Choosing the Right Lubricant

The way in which the teeth of the gears are organised and meet with each other largely determines the choice of lubricant. The type of gear; the shape of the teeth; the speed at which contact is made and broken; the manner in which contact is made; whether is it an open or closed system, and the material the gears are made of all play an essential role in maintaining gear health and minimising damage and maintenance downtime.

In open gear systems, lubricant greases are suited and must:

  • Be attached and don’t throw away easily
  • Have a high load absorption capacity or are difficult to suppress from the contact points
  • Must have a high resistance to the elements, especially to washing away by water
  • Have additives that increase extreme pressure capacity and add anti-corrosion properties
  • Have solid lubricants that contribute to emergency running capability
  • Easy dosage and application by spray can, brush or automatic lubrication system
  • Optional: Have soundproofing properties
  • Optional: Be biodegradable

In closed gear systems, lubricant oils or fluid greases are suites and must:

  • Have a high load absorption capacity or are difficult to suppress from the contact points
  • Have a high cooling or heat dissipation capacity
  • Have additives that increase extreme pressure capacity, prevent foaming and have a cleaning capacity
  • Optional: Have soundproofing properties
  • Optional: Be biodegradable
  • Optional: Have solid lubricants that contribute to emergency running capability

In addition to the above factors that are directly related to the gear transmissions themselves, other factors are also important:

  • The application and operational temperature
  • The environment, for example, a maritime environment or in a cleanroom
  • The type of industry with associated requirements and regulations in which the application runs, for example in the food industry
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