First, the facts: powder metallurgy is a cost-effective method of forming precision net-shape metal components that allows for more efficiently designed products. It saves valuable raw materials through recycling and the elimination of costly secondary-machining. PM competes with wrought steel gears as the technology continues to advance. You'll find PM components in everything from automobile transmissions to aircraft turbine engines, surgical equipment and power tools.
Powder metallurgy (P/M) is a precision metal forming technology for the manufacture of parts to net or near-net shape, and it is particularly well-suited to the production of gears. Spur, bevel and helical gears all may be made by made by powder metallurgy processing.
AGMA and members of the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF) are three years into a joint project to develop specifications and an information sheet on rating powder metal gears. According to committee vice chairman Glen A. Moore of Burgess-Norton Mfg. Co., the first phase of the project, the publication of AGMA Standard "6009-AXX, Specifications for Powder Metallurgy Gears," should be completed in late 1996 or early 1997.
The data discussed in this article was taken from an upright vacuum cleaner. This was a prototype cleaner that was self-propelled by a geared transmission. It was the first time that the manufacturer had used a geared transmission in this application.
Increasingly gear designers and product engineers are capitalizing on the economic advantages of powder metallurgy (P/M) for new and existing gear applications. Powder metal gears are found in automobiles, outdoor power equipment transmissions and office machinery applications as well as power hand tools, appliances and medial components.
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.