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Articles About failure
Photography is an essential part of gear failure analysis. It not only provides a fast, convenient way to accurately document the appearance of gear failure, but also is an effective diagnostic tool because the magnification obtained through photographic enlargement and slide projection often discloses evidence that may have been missed if the gears were not photographed.
This is a three-part article explaining the principles of gear lubrication. It reviews current knowledge of the field of gear tribology and is intended for both gear designers and gear operators. Part 1 classifies gear tooth failures into five modes and explains the factors that a gear designer and operator must consider to avoid gear failures. It defines the nomenclature and gives a list of references for those interested in further research. It also contains an in-depth discussion of the gear tooth failure modes that are influenced by lubrication and gives methods for preventing gear tooth failures.
In the 1960's and early 1970's, considerable work was done to identify the various modes of damage that ended the lives of rolling element bearings. A simple summary of all the damage modes that could lead to failure is given in Table 1. In bearing applications that have insufficient or improper lubricant, or have contaminants (water, solid particles) or poor sealing, failure, such as excessive wear or vibration or corrosion, may occur, rather than contact fatigue. Usually other components in the overall system besides bearings also suffer. Over the years, builders of transmissions, axles, and gear boxes that comprise such systems have understood the need to improve the operating environment within such units, so that some system life improvements have taken place.
Micropitting has become a major concern in certain classes of industrial gear applications, especially wind power and other relatively highly loaded, somewhat slow-speed applications, where carburized gears are used to facilitate maximum load capacity in a compact package. While by itself the appearance of micropitting does not generally cause much perturbation in the overall operation of a gear system, the ultimate consequences of a micropitting failure can, and frequently are, much more catastrophic.
There are great advantages in dry hobbing, not only for friendliness toward the environment, but also for increasing productivity and for decreasing manufacturing cost. Dry hobbing, however, often causes failures in hob cutting edges or problems with the surface quality of gear tooth flanks. These difficulties are not present when hobbing with cutting oil. Pinching and crushing of generated chips between the hob cutting edge and the work gear tooth flank is considered a major cause of those problems.
Some results of evaluation by this method in the automotive industry.
High speed gearing, operating with low viscosity lubricants, is prone to a failure mode called scoring. In contrast to the classic failure modes, pitting and breakage, which generally take time to develop, scoring occurs early in the operation of a gear set and can be the limiting factor in the gear's power capability.
When gears are case-hardened, it is known that some growth and redistribution of stresses that result in geometric distortion will occur. Aerospace gears require post case-hardening grinding of the gear teeth to achieve necessary accuracy. Tempering of the case-hardened surface, commonly known as grinding burn, occurs in the manufacturing process when control of the heat generation at the surface is lost.
If a gear system is run continuously for long periods of time—or if the starting loads are very low and within the normal operating spectrum—the effect of the start-up conditions may often be insignificant in the determination of the life of the gear system. Conversely, if the starting load is significantly higher than any of the normal operating conditions, and the gear system is started and stopped frequently, the start-up load may, depending on its magnitude and frequency, actually be the overriding, limiting design condition.
Understanding the morphology of micropitting is critical in determining the root cause of failure. Examples of micropitting in gears and rolling-element bearings are presented to illustrate morphological variations that can occur in practice.
Point-surface-origin (PSO) macropitting occurs at sites of geometric stress concentration (GSC) such as discontinuities in the gear tooth profile caused by micropitting, cusps at the intersection of the involute profile and the trochoidal root fillet, and at edges of prior tooth damage, such as tip-to-root interference. When the profile modifications in the form of tip relief, root relief, or both, are inadequate to compensate for deflection of the gear mesh, tip-to-root interference occurs. The interference can occur at either end of the path of contact, but the damage is usually more severe near the start-of-active-profile (SAP) of the driving gear.
The diagnosis and prevention of gear tooth and bearing wear requires the discovery and understanding of the particular mechanism of wear, which in turn indicates the best method of prevention. Because a gearbox is a tribologically dependent mechanism, some understanding of gear and bearing tribology is essential for this process. Tribology is the general term for the study and practice of lubrication, friction and wear. If tribology is neglected or considered insignificant, poor reliability and short life will result.
"Gear Train" is a new Gear Technology section focusing on training and education in the gear industry. For the first installment, we've focused on AGMA's online and video training programs.
The quality of the material used for highly loaded critical gears is of primary importance in the achievement of their full potential. Unfortunately, the role which material defects play is not clearly understood by many gear designers. The mechanism by which failures occur due to material defects is often circuitous and not readily apparent. In general, however, failures associated with material defects show characteristics that point to the source of the underlying problem, the mechanism by which the failure initiated, and the manner in which it progressed to failure of the component.
Surface-hardened, sintered powder metal gears are increasingly used in power transmissions to reduce the cost of gear production. One important problem is how to design with surface durability, given the porous nature of sintered gears. Many articles have been written about mechanical characteristics, such as tensile and bending strength, of sintered materials, and it is well-known that the pores existing on and below their surfaces affect their characteristics (Refs. 1-3). Power transmission gears are frequently employed under conditions of high speed and high load, and tooth surfaces are in contact with each other under a sliding-rolling contact condition. Therefore it is necessary to consider not only their mechanical, but also their tribological characteristics when designing sintered gears for surface durability.
A common design goal for gears in helicopter or turboprop power transmission is reduced weight. To help meet this goal, some gear designs use thin rims. Rims that are too thin, however, may lead to bending fatigue problems and cracks. The most common methods of gear design and analysis are based on standards published by the American Gear Manufacturers Association. Included in the standards are rating formulas for gear tooth bending to prevent crack initiation (Ref. 1). These standards can include the effect of rim thickness on tooth bending fatigue (Ref 2.). The standards, however, do not indicate the crack propagation path or the remaining life once a crack has started. Fracture mechanics has developed into a useful discipline for predicting strength and life of cracked structures.
This article summarizes the use of laboratory fatigue data for bearings and gears coupled with probabilistic life prediction and EHD theories to predict the life and reliability of a commercial turboprop gearbox.
The Integral Temperature Method for the evaluation of the scoring load capacity of gears is described. All necessary equations for the practical application are presented. The limit scoring temperature for any oil can be obtained from a gear scoring test.
What follows is Part 2 of a three-part article covering the principles of gear lubrication. Part 2 gives an equation for calculating the lubricant film thickness, which determines whether the gears operate in the boundary, elastohydrodynamic, or full-film lubrication regime. An equation for Blok's flash temperature, which is used for predicting the risk of scuffing, is also given.
A series of bench-top experiments was conducted to determine the effects of metallic debris being dragged through meshing gear teeth. A test rig that is typically used to conduct contact fatigue experiments was used for these tests. Several sizes of drill material, shim stock and pieces of gear teeth were introduced and then driven through the meshing region. The level of torque required to drive the “chip” through the gear mesh was measured. From the data gathered, chip size sufficient to jam the mechanism can be determined.
Gear flank breakage can be observed on edge zone-hardened gears. It occurs, for example, on bevel gears for water turbines, on spur gears for wind energy converters and on single- and double-helical gears for other industrial applications.
This is the final part of a three-part series on the basics of gear lubrication. It covers selection of lubricant types and viscosities, the application of lubricants, and a case history
In a modern truck, the gear teeth are among the most stressed parts. Failure of a tooth will damage the transmission severely. Throughout the years, gear design experience has been gained and collected into standards such as DIN (Ref. 1) or AGMA (Ref. 2). Traditionally two types of failures are considered in gear design: tooth root bending fatigue, and contact fatigue. The demands for lighter and more silent transmissions have given birth to new failure types. One novel failure type, Tooth Interior Fatigue Fracture (TIFF), has previously been described by MackAldener and Olsson (Refs. 3 & 4) and is further explored in this paper.
The first commandment for gears reads "Gears must have backlash!" When gear teeth are operated without adequate backlash, any of several problems may occur, some of which may lead to disaster. As the teeth try to force their way through mesh, excessive separating forces are created which may cause bearing failures. These same forces also produce a wedging action between the teeth with resulting high loads on the teeth. Such loads often lead to pitting and to other failures related to surface fatigue, and in some cases, bending failures.
Gear tooth wear and micropitting are very difficult phenomena to predict analytically. The failure mode of micropitting is closely correlated to the lambda ratio. Micropitting can be the limiting design parameter for long-term durability. Also, the failure mode of micropitting can progress to wear or macropitting, and then go on to manifest more severe failure modes, such as bending. The results of a gearbox test and manufacturing process development program will be presented to evaluate super-finishing and its impact on micropitting.
Effective gear designs balance strength, durability, reliability, size, weight, and cost. Even effective designs, however, can have the possibility of gear cracks due to fatigue. In addition, truly robust designs consider not only crack initiation, but also crack propagation trajectories. As an example, crack trajectories that propagate through the gear tooth are the preferred mode of failure compared to propagation through the gear rim. Rim failure will lead to catastrophic events and should be avoided. Analysis tools that predict crack propagation paths can be a valuable aid to the designer to prevent such catastrophic failures.
The primary objective in designing reliable gear drives is to avoid failure. Avoiding failure is just as important for the manufacturer and designer as it is for the end user. Many aspects should be considered in order to maximize the potential reliability and performance of installed gearing.
If you make hardened gears and have not seen any micropitting, then you haven’t looked closely enough. Micropitting is one of the modes of failure that has more recently become of concern to gear designers and manufacturers. Micropitting in itself is not necessarily a problem, but it can lead to noise and sometimes other more serious forms of failure. Predicting when this will occur is the challenge facing designers.
Gears are designed to be manufactured, processed and used without failure throughout the design life of the gear. One of INFAC's objectives (*see p.24) is to help manufacture of gears to optimize performance and life. One way to achieve this is to identify failure mechanisms and then devise strategies to overcome them by modifying the manufacturing parameters.
Forensics isn't just for tough-talking, crime-busting scientists--most commonly found on your television; the tactic also holds the key to successful gearbox design and manufacture.
Bridge cranes are among the most useful machines in many branches of modern industry. Using standard hooks or other specialized clamping devices, they can lift, transport, discharge, and stack a variety of loads.
The two reports referred to in this article, "The people wise Organization" and "House Divided: Views on Change from Top Management - and Their Employees," crossed our desks some weeks ago. They stimulated a fair amount of discussion here, and we hope they do the same in your offices. We welcome your responses. How do you view the corporate/competitive environment of the next few years? How do you see yourself and your company fitting in? Can these ideas work in the gear industry? Let us now what you think.
I. Inspect failed components as soon as possible. If an early on-site inspection is not possible, someone at the site must preserve the evidence based on your instructions.
Plastics as gear materials represent an interesting development for gearing because they offer high strength-to-weight ratios, ease of manufacture and excellent tribological properties (Refs. 1-7). In particular, there is a sound prospect that plastic gears can be applied for power transmission of up to 10 kW (Ref. 6).
The wind turbine industry has been plagued with gearbox failures, which cause repair costs, legal expenses, lost energy production and environmental pollution.
Physical Vapor Deposited (PVD) coatings such as TiN (Titanium nitride) have been a boon for cutting tool manufacturers. They reduce wear and, therefore, extend tool life, which in turn reduces production costs. But PVD coatings are expensive, and when they fail, they cost both time and money, and they causes of the failure are not always readily apparent.
Gears are manufactured with thin rims for several reasons. Steel gears are manufactured with thin rims and webs where low weight is important. Nonmetallic gears, manufactured by injection molding, are designed with thin rims as part of the general design rule to maintain uniform thickness to ensure even post-mold cooling. When a thin-rimmed gear fails, the fracture is thought the root of the gear, as shown in Fig. 1a, rather than the usual fillet failure shown in Fig. 1b.
Gear pitting is one of the primary failure modes of automotive transmission gear sets. Over the past years, many alternatives have been intended to improve their gear surface durability. However, due to the nature of new process development, it takes a length of time and joint efforts between the development team and suppliers to investigate and verify each new approach.
In his Handbook of Gear Design (Ref.1), Dudley states (or understates): "The best gear people around the world are now coming to realize that metallurgical quality is just as important as geometric quality." Geometric accuracy without metallurgical integrity in any highly stressed gear or shaft would only result in wasted effort for all concerned - the gear designer, the manufacturer, and the customer - as the component's life cycle would be prematurely cut short. A carburized automotive gear or shaft with the wrong surface hardness, case depth or core hardness may not even complete its basic warranty period before failing totally at considerable expense and loss of prestige for the producer and the customer. The unexpected early failure of a large industrial gear or shaft in a coal mine or mill could result in lost production and income while the machine is down since replacement components may not be readily available. Fortunately, this scenario is not common. Most reputable gear and shaft manufacturers around the world would never neglect the metallurgical quality of their products.
Historically, wind turbine gearbox failures have plagued the industry. Yet an effective oil analysis program will increase the reliability and availability of your machinery, while minimizing maintenance costs associated with oil change-outs, labor, repairs and downtime. Practical action steps are presented here to improve reliability.
There are numerous engineering evaluations required to design gear sets for optimum performance with regard to torque capacity, noise, size and cost. How much cost savings and added gear performance is available through optimization? Cost savings of 10% to 30% and 100% added capacity are not unusual. The contrast is more pronounced if the original design was prone to failure and not fit for function.
The author has written this book primarily from the viewpoint of analyzing vibrations on heavy industrial and mill gearing that may have been in service for a prolonged time. The purpose is to diagnose problems, especially the source or cause of failure. However, the principles and analysis techniques can be used for all types and sizes of gears, as well as for gear noise analysis.
Users of gear-cutting tools probably do not often consciously consider the raw material from which those hogs, broaches or shavers are made. However, a rudimentary awareness of the various grades and their properties may allow tool users to improve the performance or life of their tools, or to address tool failures. The high-speed steel from which the tool is made certainly is not the only factor affecting tool performance, but as the raw material, the steel may be the first place to start.
Bevel gear systems are particularly sensitive to improper assembly. Slight errors in gear positioning can turn a well-designed, quality manufactured gear set into a noisy, prone-to-failure weak link in your application.
As a result of extensive research into the vibration characteristics of gear drives, a systematic approach has evolved, by which damaging resonances can be eliminated. The method combines finite element techniques with experimental signature and modal analyses. Implementation of the bulk of the method can be carried out early in the design stage. A step-by-step description of the approach, as it was applied to an existing accessory drive, is given in the text. It is shown how premature bearing failures were eliminated by detuning the torsional oscillations of a gearshaft. A dramatic reduction in vibration levels was achieved as a result of detuning the problem gear. The proposed approach can be extended to other types of rotating machines.
One of the major problems of plastic gear design is the knowledge of their running temperature. Of special interest is the bulk temperature of the tooth to predict the fatigue life, and the peak temperature on the surface of the tooth to avert surface failure. This paper presents the results of an experimental method that uses an infrared radiometer to measure the temperature variation along the profile of a plastic gear tooth in operation. Measurements are made on 5.08, 3.17, 2.54, 2.12 mm module hob cut gears made from nylon 6-6, acetal and UHMWPE (Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene). All the tests are made on a four square testing rig with thermoplastic/steel gear pairs where the plastic gear is the driver. Maximum temperature prediction curves obtained through statistical analysis of the results are presented and compared to data available from literature.
One of the most effective methods in solving the edge loading problem due to excess misalignment and deflection in aerospace actuation gearing is to localize tooth-bearing contact by crowning the teeth. Irrespective of the applied load, if the misalignment and/or deflection are large enough to cause the contact area to reduce to zero, the stress becomes large enough to cause failure. The edge loading could cause the teeth to break or pit, but too much crowning may also cause the teeth to pit due to concentrated loading. In this paper, a proposed method to localize the contact bearing area and calculate the contact stress with crowning is presented and demonstrated on some real-life examples in aerospace actuation systems.
In this paper, a method is presented for analyzing and documenting the pitting failure of spur and helical gears through digital photography and automatic computerized evaluation of the damaged tooth fl ank surface. The authors have developed an accurate, cost-effective testing procedure that provides an alternative to vibration analysis or oil debris methods commonly used in conjunction with similar test-rig programs.
This article was originally published 20 years ago, in Gear Technology’s first issue. It describes a method of evaluating the smoothness, or lack of smoothness, of gear motion. This lack of smoothness of motion, known as “transmission error,” is responsible for excitation of gear noise and problems of gear accuracy and sometimes has a relationship to gear failure.
No matter how well gears are designed and manufactured, gear corrosion can occur that may easily result in catastrophic failure. Since corrosion is a sporadic and rare event and often difficult to observe in the root fillet region or in finely pitched gears with normal visual inspection, it may easily go undetected. This paper presents the results of an incident that occurred in a gear manufacturing facility several years ago that resulted in pitting corrosion and intergranular attack (IGA).
The power of high speed gears for use in the petrochemical industry and power stations is always increasing. Today gears with ratings of up to 70,000kW are already in service. For such gears, the failure mode of scoring can become the limiting constraint. The validity of an analytical method to predict scoring resistance is, therefore, becoming increasingly important.
Gear noise can be a source of intense annoyance. It is often the primary source of annoyance even when it is not the loudest noise component. This is because of the way it is perceived. Gear noise is a collection of pure tones which the human ear can detect even when they are 10dB lower than the overall noise level. Another reason for our sensitivity to transmission noise is that we associate it with impending mechanical failure.
Myth No. 1: Oil Is Oil. Using the wrong oil is a common cause of gear failure. Gears require lubricants blended specifically for the application. For example, slow-speed spur gears, high-speed helical gears, hypoid gears and worm gears all require different lubricants. Application parameters, such as operating speeds, transmitted loads, temperature extremes and contamination risks, must be considered when choosing an oil. Using the right oil can improve efficiency and extend gear life.
There's a reason they call it catastrophic gear failure: For example, if the line goes down at a large aluminum rolling mill because a gear set goes bad, the cost can run up to a whopping $200,000 a week. Even in smaller operations, the numbers alone (not to mention all the other problems) can be a plant manager's worst nightmare.
Next year will be the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' famous "discovery" of America. Poor Columbus has fallen on hard times of late, what with revisionist historians smacking their lips over his more notable failures and reminding us that American natives have a vastly different point of view on this Great American Success Story. But before we relegate the Great Navigator to the scrap heap of trashed-over heros, let's take one last look at some of the positive lessons to be learned from the Columbus experience - ones that could be instructive to our current situation in the American gear industry.
When we have problems with gearset failure, a common diagnosis is misalignment. What exactly is that and how do we prevent it? The second most common "killer" of good gear sets is misalignment (dirt, or abrasive wear, is first). Gear teeth simply won't carry the load if they don't touch, and the portion that does touch has to carry an overload to make up for the missing contact area.
Micropitting, pitting and wear are typical gear failure modes that can occur on the flanks of slowly operated and highly stressed internal gears. However, the calculation methods for the flank load-carrying capacity have mainly been established on the basis of experimental investigations of external gears. This paper describes the design and functionality of the newly developed test rigs for internal gears and shows basic results of the theoretical studies. It furthermore presents basic examples of experimental test results.
In today's industrial marketplace, deburring and chamfering are no longer just a matter of cosmetics. The faster speeds at which transmissions run today demand that gear teeth mesh as smoothly and accurately as possible to prevent premature failure. The demand for quieter gears also requires tighter tolerances. New heat treating practices and other secondary gear operations have placed their own set of demands on manufacturers. Companies that can deburr or chamfer to these newer, more stringent specifications - and still keep costs in line - find themselves with a leg up on their competition.