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GAMM-Mitt. 32, No. 1, 61 79 (2009) / DOI 10.1002/gamm.

200910005

On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary


gear geometries
A. Johann1 and J. Scheurle1
1

Technische Universitat Munchen, Zentrum Mathematik, 80290 Munchen, Germany

Received 25 March 2009


Published online 19 May 2009
Key words general mathematical gearing theory, tooth contact analysis, geometric nonlinearity, involute profile, conjugate flank, surface of action, spur gear, bevel gear.
MSC (2000) 34A34, 53A17, 70B10, 70E55.
In this paper, we present a novel approach to three-dimensional mathematical gearing theory.
We start from a general formulation of the so called basic law of gear kinematics. Based on
that we derive an analytic closed form solution for the generation of conjugate tooth flanks,
given a (local) parametric representation for any prescribed flank profile. Also, we study the
problem of constructing pairs of tooth flanks that give rise to a prescribed surface of action.
Surfaces of action will be represented in an implicit global rather than in a parametric way.
To illustrate the general theory, we consider a number of specific examples including the
standard involute profile for spur gears as well as a more sophisticated three-dimensional
generalization of that.
c 2009 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim


Introduction

Simplicity and cheapness of the fabrication process have been the main advantages of traditional gear geometries. Spur gears with an involute tooth profile form a typical example. They
have been introduced already by L. Euler [4], [5] based on a thorough mathematical analysis,
and they are still in practical use nowadays due to the following advantages:
1. In case of an appropriate setup, at least one pair of teeth is always in contact. Thus,
involute profiles guarantee an uniform transmission of angular velocity and angular momentum,
2. To some extend, the transmission is independent of the distance between the gear axes.
3. Involute profiles are easily produced by standard planar cutting tools.
However, due to modern production techniques, nowadays, more sophisticated types of gears
can be produced with high precision and reasonable effort. In particular, this is true for so
called helical, double helical, bevel, crown, and hypoid gears as well as for several other
special types of gears. Depending on the context of application there are advantages as well
as disadvantages of different gear types. The degree of effectiveness, the strength of wear,

e-mail: johann@ma.tum.de, Phone: +49 89 289-18332, Fax: +49 89 289-18308


e-mail: scheurle@ma.tum.de, Phone: +49 89 289-18305, Fax: +49 89 289-18308

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62

A. Johann and J. Scheurle: On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary gear geometries

and the level of load bearing capacity are examples of important operating characteristics of
gears. Thus, the question of an optimal gear design depending on the particular context of
application naturally arises. An important step towards this goal appears to be providing an
universal mathematical frame that allows to describe and classify general types of kinematically admissable gears. This is the topic of this paper. Here we restrict ourselves to study
the geometry of tooth flanks from a purely kinematical point of view. The notion of a flank
is understood to mean the leading edge of a gear tooth that meshes with the teeth of another
gear. We are not going to worry about the bulk construction of gears such as the arrangement
of the teeth, for example. In particular, we do not worry about possible self-intersections of
two gears in contact as a result of their global geometric structure. Rather, we arbitrarily prescribe the directions of the gear axes in three-space as well as the so called transmission ratio.
Then we study the geometric profile of flanks in three-space to the extend of local contact
compatibility. For simplicity, we assume that the transmission ratio is constant. So, one might
think of it as being the ratio of the tooth numbers. However, the mathematical framework of
gearing theory presented here easily extends to include more general classes of transmission
functions such as for example rotation angle dependent ones.
The starting point of our investigation is the basic law of gear kinematics which we derive
obeying the requirement to achieve a constant transmission ratio for the angular velocity.
We formulate necessary as well as sufficient conditions in a coordinate free manner for this
requirement to be fulfilled. Based on that, our aim is two-fold. On the one hand, given
any reasonable geometric shape of the flanks of one of two gears in contact, we ask how to
determine a conjugate flank, i.e., a kinematically consistent geometric profile for the leading
edge of the other gears teeth, together with the corresponding surface (line) of action. On the
other hand, we prescribe the surface (line) of action of two gears in contact, and ask for all
possible flank shapes, that admit the given surface (line) of action.
There exists already a vast literature dealing with questions like those and others concerning almost all reasonable types of gears; see, for instance, [2], [3], [6], [7], [8], and the
references there in. The results of the present paper appear to be beyond the scope of previous contributions, though. Taking advantage of our comprehensive and clear formulation of
the basic law of gear kinematics, we are able to answer the first of the two questions raised
above for any prescribed flank profile by constructing explicit analytical parametrizations of
both, the conjugate flank and the surface (line) of action. We completely classify the solution
structure by stating conditions in terms of a few coefficients showing up in some auxiliary
transcendental algebraic equation. In case of multiple solutions, we show how to pick the
most appropriate one from the engineering point of view. Concerning the second question
from above, we derive a certain differential equation to determine a parametrization for one
of the flank profiles which are asked for. The other one is then obtained as a conjugate profile. Moreover, we develop an efficient algorithm to construct relevant solutions of the derived
differential equation, either numerically or, in special cases, even analytically in closed form.
The classical involute profile in case of a spur gear is an example for the latter situation. We
are going to discuss this example as a special case covered by our general theory. As a second
example, we consider a pair of bevel gears and graphically illustrate our general mathematical
theory using the software package Matlab.
The structure of the paper is organized as follows. After presenting relevant preliminaries
in section 1, we derive an universal version of the basic law of gear kinematics in section 2.
Also, we derive the well known version for spur gears as a special case. Section 3 is devoted

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GAMM-Mitt. 32, No. 1 (2009)

63

to the generation of conjugate flanks. Here, we recover the standard involute profile for spur
gears as a special case of the general theory presented. In section 4 we address the question
of generating admissable flanks from a given surface of action. In particular, we present
an algorithm that allows to solve the underlying differential equation in a systematic and
convenient way. Finally, in section 5, we consider a nontrivial example of bevel gears, where
we assume the surface of action to be a plane. Thus, we generalize the involute profile for
spur gears to a genuinely three-dimensional situation.

Preliminaries

We consider two meshing gears, numbered by the index i = 1, 2. Let gear i be mounted on
the axis
ai + bi

(2.1)

parametrized by R with a point vector ai R3 and a directional vector bi R3 of length


bi  = 1. By a second unit vector ci R3 which is supposed to be perpendicular to bi ,
we fix the zero position of the gear. Thus, the kinematics of rotational motion for each gear
can be described in local cylindrical coordinates ri R+
0 , i R mod 2, zi R. The
transformation to Cartesian coordinates is given by
xi = ai + zi bi + ri Dbi (i ) ci .

(2.2)

Here, Dbi (i ) denotes a rotation by the angle i around the axis bi and is given by
Db () c = cos c + (1 cos )

c, b
sin
bc
b+
2
b
b

(2.3)

with the scalar product c, b and the vector product b c. Since ci is perpendicular to bi ,
we have ci , bi  = 0. Also, since bi is an unit vector,


(2.4)
xi = ai + zi bi + ri cos i ci + sin i bi ci .
If we rotate gear i by an angle of i , this becomes
xi = ai + zi bi + ri Dbi (i ) Dbi (i ) ci

(2.5)

= ai + zi bi + ri Dbi (i + i ) ci


= ai + zi bi + ri cos(i + i ) ci + sin(i + i ) bi ci .

The basic law of gear kinematics

Let denote the transmission ratio which is supposed to be a real constant throughout the
paper. In order to transmit uniform rotary motion, it must hold
2 = 1 .
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(3.1)

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64

A. Johann and J. Scheurle: On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary gear geometries

Now, consider a point of contact x1 = x2 . By equation (2.5), it holds




xi = ai + zi bi + ri cos(i + i ) ci + sin(i + i ) bi ci .
Therefore, for the time derivative, we get


i ri sin(i + i ) ci + cos(i + i ) bi ci
x i =


i ri bi cos(i + i ) ci + sin(i + i ) bi ci
=


i bi xi ai zi bi
=

(3.2)

(3.3)

i bi (xi ai ).
=
Let ni R3 be the outer unit normal vector corresponding to the touching flank of gear i
at the point xi . Both gears will stay in contact if the vector of relative motion x 1 x 2 is
perpendicular to n1 and n2 . Otherwise, the touching flanks would either loose contact or pass
through each other. Therefore, it must hold
ni , x 1 x 2  = 0
1 = 0, is equivalent to
which, for


1
(x x 2 ) = 0.
ni ,
1 1

(3.4)

(3.5)

Here and subsequently, ,  denotes the standard scalar product in R3 . Differentiating equa 1 . Since we deal with the point of contact x1 = x2 , equation
2 =
tion (3.1), we get
(3.5) becomes
 

ni , b1 (xi a1 ) b2 (xi a2 ) = 0.
(3.6)
This is an universal version of the basic law of gear kinematics, capable of handling arbitrary
directions of the axes.
As a matter of fact, equation (3.6) is only a necessary condition in order to obtain an
uniform transmission of rotary motion. However, it is possible to get a sufficient condition if
we require in addition to (3.4) and (3.6) that


n1 , b1 (x1 a1 ) = 0.
(3.7)
This condition says that flank 1 must not align to a circle around the gear axis. In that case,
we would have constructed at least locally a wheel instead of a gear. By (3.6), (3.7) is
equivalent to


n1 , b2 (x2 a2 ) = 0.
(3.8)
Using this additional condition, equation (3.3) leads to
i=

n1 , x i 
.
n1 , bi (xi ai )

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(3.9)

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GAMM-Mitt. 32, No. 1 (2009)

65

An uniform transmission of rotary motion is guaranteed if


2
1
0=




n1 , x 2
n1 , x 1


=
n1 , b2 (x2 a2 )
n1 , b1 (x1 a1 )






0 = n1 , b1 (x1 a1 ) n1 , x 2 n1 , b2 (x2 a2 ) n1 , x 1


 

= n1 , b1 (x1 a1 ) b2 (x2 a2 )
n1 , x 2



n1 , b2 (x2 a2 ) n1 , x 1 x 2 .

(3.10)

Here, the first term becomes zero because of the basic law (3.6) having in mind that at a
point of contact it holds x1 = x2 . The second term is zero by (3.4).
Example (spur gears)
In the special case of spur gears (i.e., if b2 = b1 ), equation (3.6) reduces to
 

ni , b1 (xi a1 ) + b1 (xi a2 ) = 0


 
 1

a1 +
a2
ni , b1 xi
= 0.
1+
1+

(3.11)
(3.12)

By

p=

1
a1 +
a2 ,
1+
1+

(3.13)

we denote the pitch point. This leads to the instantaneous axis


p + b1

(3.14)

parametrized by R. Thus, equation (3.12) is satisfied if there is a R such that ni is


parallel to
xi (p + b1 )

(3.15)

or, in other words, if the normal at the point of contact always passes through the instantaneous
axis. This is the well known basic law for spur gears in its common form (cf. [1], page 2).
Remark
An analogon to the instantaneous axis, given in equation (3.14), can also be found in the
general case provided that


det (a1 a2 ), b1 , b2 = 0, b1 b2 = 0.
(3.16)
This condition is equivalent to the requirement that both gear axes lie within one plane. The
inequality in (3.16) excludes the trivial situation of two gears mounted on identical axes with
transmission ratio equal to one, and therefore does not really restrict the generality.

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A. Johann and J. Scheurle: On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary gear geometries

In general, the instantaneous axis is given by all points of contact for which there is zero
sliding friction:
x 1 = x 2

(3.17)

As an immediate consequence, the basic law (3.6) is satisfied automatically. Using equation
(3.3), condition (3.17) becomes (writing x = x1 = x2 )
b1 (x a1 ) = b2 (x a2 )

(3.18)

(b1 b2 ) x = b1 a1 b2 a2 .


If b1 b2 , b1 a1 b2 a2 = 0, this equation has no solution. Otherwise, we can
vector-multiply it from the left by (b1 b2 ) and obtain


(b1 b2 ) (b1 b2 ) x =



= (b1 b2 ) b1 a1 b2 a2

which, finally, leads to the instantaneous axis


x=



1
(b1 b2 ) b1 a1 b2 a2 + (b1 b2 ) (3.19)
2
b1 b2 

with R. It remains to verify, that equation (3.16) is equivalent to




0 = b1 b2 , b1 a1 b2 a2

(3.20)

= b1 , b1 a1  b1 , b2 a2  b2 , b1 a1  + 2 b2 , b2 a2 




= b1 , b2 a2  + b2 , b1 a1 


= b1 b2 , a1  b1 b2 , a2 


= b1 b2 , a1 a2 ,


= det (a1 a2 ), b1 , b2
which, indeed, is true.

Generation of the conjugate flank

Starting from a given parametrization of a flank on gear 1, we use the basic law (3.6) in order
to generate a corresponding conjugate flank on gear 2.
Let y1 R3 be a given point on the flank of gear 1 in zero position. By ny1 R3 , we
denote the corresponding outer unit normal vector. The basic idea of the following is to rotate
gear 1 by an angle of R until the basic law (3.6) is satisfied for the rotated point
x1 = x2 = a1 + Db1 () (y1 a1 ).
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(4.1)

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GAMM-Mitt. 32, No. 1 (2009)

67

For this , x2 is a point of contact. If we rotate this point by the angle of around the
axis of the second gear, we immediately get the conjugate flank point on gear 2 (also in zero
position):


(4.2)
y2 = a2 + Db2 () a1 a2 + Db1 () (y1 a1 )
If we apply this procedure successively to all points y1 on the flank of gear 1, we obtain the
corresponding conjugate flank on gear 2. This pair of flanks guarantees an uniform transmission of rotary motion and is constructed in such a way that always a line of points is
simultaneously in contact.
It remains to plug equation (4.1) into the basic law (3.6) and to solve the resulting equation
for :


(4.3)
0 = Db1 () ny1 , b1 (a1 + Db1 () (y1 a1 ) a1 )

b2 (a1 + Db1 () (y1 a1 ) a2 )




= ny1 , b1 (y1 a1 ) Db1 () ny1 , b2 (a1 a2 )


ny1 , (Db1 () b2 ) (y1 a1 )




= ny1 , b1 (y1 a1 ) Db1 () ny1 , b2 (a1 a2 )


+ Db1 () b2 , ny1 (y1 a1 )


= ny1 , b1 (y1 a1 )

cos ny1 +(1cos )ny1 , b1  b1


+ sin b1 ny1 , b2 (a1 a2 )

+ cos b2 + (1cos )b2 , b1  b1


sin b1 b2 , ny1 (y1 a1 )




= ny1 , b1 (y1 a1 ) ny1 , b1  b1 , b2 (a1 a2 )


+ b2 , b1  b1 , ny1 (y1 a1 )



+ cos ny1 ny1 , b1  b1 , b2 (a1 a2 )


+ b2 b2 , b1  b1 , ny1 (y1 a1 )


 

+ sin ny1 b1 , b2 (a1 a2 ) + b2 b1 , ny1 (y1 a1 )
This equation is of the form
0 = A + B cos + C sin
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(4.4)

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A. Johann and J. Scheurle: On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary gear geometries

with A, B, C R and has the solutions






= arg AB C B 2 + C 2 A2 , AC B B 2 + C 2 A2
with the argument function

arctan xy

+ arctan x

arg(x, y) =
2

arbitrary

if x > 0
if x < 0
if x = 0 and y > 0
if x = 0 and y < 0
if x = y = 0.

(4.5)

(4.6)

Therefore, equation (4.4) has no solution for A2 > B 2 +C 2 , one solution for A2 = B 2 +C 2 =
0, two solutions for A2 < B 2 + C 2 and infinitely many solutions for A = B = C = 0. It
has to be noted that the cases where one or infinitely many solutions occour are not generic.
For example, infinitely many solutions will arise only for degenerate geometries such as two
gears mounted on identical axes.
In the case of multiple solutions, it is convenient to pick the solution for which x 1 x 2 
(i.e., the sliding friction) becomes minimal. Usually, only this solution is given in the literature
since the other solutions quite often lead to conflicts with geometric constraints such as the
intersection of teeth. However, it might be possible that a clever design can bypass these
problems and, thus, uses also these additional conjugate flanks.
Example (spur gears)
As an example, let us consider a pair of planar spur gears. Let a1 = (0, 1, 0)T , b1 =
(0, 0, 1)T , n1 = 10 and a2 = (0, 1, 0)T , b2 = (0, 0, 1)T , n2 = 10. For the flank on
gear 1, we prescribe an involute profile

t cos t sin t
9
y1 (t) = a1 +
t sin t cos t
(4.7)
10
0

cos t
(4.8)
ny1 (t) = sin t
0
with 0 t 1. In figure 1, we see the two resulting solutions for the conjugate flank on gear
2. The solution on the left hand side which, in fact, is a copy of the flank on gear 1 has
minimal sliding friction while the profile in the middle leads to the intersection of teeth. On
the right hand side, both the resulting profiles are plotted together. It can be seen that they lie
on the two different branches of the same involute (dotted line).
Remark
For a pair of conjugate gears as constructed above, there is always a line of points in contact.
In real life, this might lead to problems since a slight deflection of the gears or their mounting
may cause objectionable edge loading. Therefore, it is convenient to introduce an additional

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69

GAMM-Mitt. 32, No. 1 (2009)

3
2

0
x

3
2

0
x

3
2

0
x

Fig. 1 Conjugate flanks for a given involute profile on the upper gear.

amount of curvature along curves of fixed (i.e., lines which are simultaneously in contact).
Then, the nominal line of contact (under zero load) reduces to a point (cf. [3], page 80).
In order to construct such a robust pair of flanks, one would start from the conjugate flanks
as given above. Next, we are free to choose a path of contact on one of these flanks. The only
restriction on this path is that it must pass transversally through the lines of constant (i.e., the
points which are simultaneously in contact). In other words, there should be always only one
point of this path in contact. Starting from any point of this path, we follow the corresponding
line of constant and deepen the flank along this line successively. For example, this line
could be parametrized by its arc length s. If we deepen each point by an amount proportional
to s2 , the gap between both flanks grows with positive curvature along this line. If we apply
this procedure to each point of the chosen path of contact, we end up with a robust pair of
flanks. For zero load, there is always one point in contact. Since this point lies on the original
conjugate flank, it is guaranteed that there is still an uniform transmission of rotary motion.
By this construction, we have not added any additional curvature along the path of contact. In general, this is no problem since both flanks are rolling along this path which leads
automatically to a given amount of curvature. However if this curvature does not meet the robustness requirements, we could either choose an other path of contact, redesign the originally
given flank 1 or give up the uniform transmission of rotary motion.

Generation of flanks from a given surface of action

In the last section, we have seen how to construct a conjugate flank on gear 2 for any given
flank on gear 1. As long as both flanks are in contact, they touch along a line. During motion,
this line of contact moves along the surface of action. In the following, we look at this
problem the other way around: Starting from a given surface of action, we reconstruct the
corresponding flank on gear 1 (which together with its conjugate flank on gear 2 leads to the
given surface of action).

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A. Johann and J. Scheurle: On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary gear geometries

Let the surface of action be given by the set of roots of


f (x) = 0

(5.1)

with a differentiable function f : R3 R. In order to get a proper surface, we require


f (x) = 0

grad f (x) = 0.

(5.2)

Here, n(x) = grad f (x) can be interpreted as the normal vector to the surface of action.
As a matter of fact, the surface under consideration cannot be chosen completely arbitrary.
In order to get a surface of action (which, finally, leads to a pair of conjugate flanks), we need
some additional requirements on f . Let
r(x) = b1 (x a1 ) b2 (x a2 ).

(5.3)

We require, for all roots x of f (i.e., the points on the surface of action), that either


n(x), r(x) = 0

(5.4)

or
r(x) = 0
or

(5.5)


n(x), b1 (x a1 ) = 0.

(5.6)

In the case of spur gears, condition (5.4) is satisfied everywhere except at the line of centres.
There, we could use condition (5.5) which leads to the well known requirement that the surface
of action has to pass through the instantaneous axis. However, this is not the only possibility:
Theoretically, it is also possible to satisfy condition (5.6) instead of (5.5). But for spur gears,
it turns out that this always leads to self-intersecting flanks. Therefore, the passing through
the instantaneous axis is the only practicable possibility. Nevertheless, condition (5.6) might
be useful for more general geometries for example, if an instantaneous axis does not exist.
It has to be noted that condition (5.6) must not be confused with (3.7). In the present context,
n(x) denotes the normal vector to the surface of action and not to one of the flanks.
After these preliminary remarks, let us now construct the flank on gear 1. In zero position,
let the flank be parametrized by
y1 (, ) R3

(5.7)

with , R. After a rotation of the gear by , let the rotated point




x(, ) = a1 + Db1 () y1 (, ) a1

(5.8)

be in contact, i.e.
f (x(, )) = 0.
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(5.9)

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Differentiating this equation, we get


0=


 


f (x(, )) = grad f (x(, )),


x(, ) = n(x(, )),
x(, )

(5.10)

and

f (x(, ))
(5.11)




x(, )
= grad f (x(, )),





= n(x(, )),
a1 + Db1 ()(y1 (, ) a1 )






= n(x(, )), b1 Db1 ()(y1 (, ) a1 ) + Db1 ()
y1 (, )



= n(x(, )), b1 (x(, ) a1 ) + v(, )

0=

with


v(, ) = Db1 ()
y1 (, ) .

(5.12)

Now, we turn to the basic law (3.6). In zero position, the surface normal of the flank is
given by

 

y1 (, )
y1 (, )
(5.13)
ny1 =

and in contact position (i.e., after a rotation by ) by






y1 (, )
y1 (, )
nx = Db1 ()
Db1 ()



x(, ) v(, ).
=

Thus, the basic law (3.6) becomes




0 = nx , r(x(, ))




x(, ) v(, ), r(x(, ))


=





x(, ) r(x(, )) .
0 = v(, ),

(5.14)

(5.15)

with r(x) as given in equation (5.3).


Up to now, we have the following situation: For some initial angle 0 R, we are free to
choose an initial line of contact
x(, 0 )
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(5.16)

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A. Johann and J. Scheurle: On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary gear geometries

such that f (x(, 0 )) = 0 for all . Different choices of x(, 0 ) will lead to different cuts
of the teeth e.g. spur gears, helical gears, double helical gears or zero bevel gears vs. spiral
bevel gears, respectively. For = 0 , x(, ) is given as the solution of the differential
equation (cf. (5.11))

x(, ) = b1 (x(, ) a1 ) + v(, ).

(5.17)

Using


y1 (, ) = a1 + Db1 () x(, ) a1 ,

(5.18)

we get the corresponding flank in zero position. In addition, the conjugate flank on gear 2 is
given by


y2 (, ) = a2 + Db2 ( ) x(, ) a2 .
(5.19)
Therefore, our problem is solved if we make sure that both equations (5.11) and (5.15) are
fulfilled. Obviously, there is still some freedom. We can fix this ambiguity, for example, by

the requirement that v(, ) is always perpendicular to


x(, ):
0=



x(, ), v(, )

(5.20)

Let
s(, ) = r(x(, ))

x(, )


x(, )2

r(x(, )),

x(, )

(5.21)

if r(x(, )) (
x(, )) = 0. Otherwise, we choose for s(, ) an arbitrary vector which

x(, ).
is perpendicular to
Then, equations (5.15) and (5.20) are satisfied if

v(, ) = s(, )

(5.22)

with R. Finally, the parameter is determined by equation (5.11):


=

n(x(, )), b1 (x(, ) a1 )


n(x(, )), s(, )

(5.23)

x(, )) = 0, this reduces by equation (5.10) to


For r(x(, )) (

n(x(, )), b1 (x(, ) a1 )


.
n(x(, )), r(, )

(5.24)

In this case (together with (5.4)), is well defined. If, on the other hand, r(x(, ))

(
x(, )) = 0, s(, ) can be chosen in an arbitrary direction which is perpendicular

x(, ). This holds, for example, for s(, ) = n(x(, )). Using this choice, the
to
denominator of equation (5.23) does not become zero and is also well defined.
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GAMM-Mitt. 32, No. 1 (2009)

73

Therefore, we have settled the cases (5.4) and (5.5). In the remaining case (5.6), we do not
even need (5.23) since the original equation (5.11) is satisfied for = 0.
It has to be noted that instead of equation (5.20), we could have required that v(, ) has

x(, ). For the solvability of the problem, this does not matter at all.
any given angle to
In any case, we end up with equation (5.24).
For example, a reasonable choice is to replace (5.21) by
s(, ) = r(x(, )).

(5.25)

Then, our computation of x(, ) would follow the direction of the relative motion of both
flank points which are in contact at x(, ). This particular choice is remarkable also in

x(, ) at all.
another sense: The computation of both flanks does not make reference to
Therefore, we achieve the following simplified algorithm:
As in (5.16), we first choose for some 0 an initial line of contact x(, 0 ). Besides
f (x(, 0 )) = 0, we require for all that



x(, 0 ) b1 (x(, 0 ) a1 ) + r(x(, 0 )) = 0.


(5.26)

In other words, the initial line of contact should coincide nowhere with the direction into
which we are continuating the flanks.
Next, we pick some and determine x(, ) for = 0 as the solution of the differential
equation

x(, ) = b1 (x(, ) a1 ) + r(x(, ))

(5.27)

with and r(x) given as in equations (5.23) and (5.3). In the case (5.4), this differential
equation is well defined. However, it becomes singular in the case (5.5). Then, we might
replace r(x(, )) by a completely arbitrary vector s(, ). As before, we could choose, for
example, s(, ) = n(x(, )). Of course, it is more convenient to pick s(, ) in such a

way that
x(, ) is continuated continuously at the points where (5.4) is not valid. In the
remaining case (5.6), can simply be set equal to zero.
For any parameter value , we end up with a path x(, ) on the surface of action. After
we have applied this procedure successively for any parameter value under consideration,
we are finished with the construction of the complete function x(, ). As before, we get the
corresponding pair of conjugate flanks by equations (5.18) and (5.19).
The main advantage of this algorithm is, that it provides us with a path of action for each
initial point x(, 0 ) separately. Afterwards, these individual paths can be easily combined
to flanks with any kind of cuts even if they result from a non-differentiable initial line of
contact. Therefore, this algorithm is in some sense a natural generalization of the treatment
of spur gears in two spatial dimensions. This also leads to one-dimensional flanks which
afterwards can be stacked to different bulk geometries (such as helical or double helical gears).

An Example

For some simple geometries of the surface of action, it is possible to solve equation (5.27)
analytically and also to give an analytical expression for the corresponding pair of conjugate

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74

A. Johann and J. Scheurle: On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary gear geometries

flanks. As an example, we consider the case when an instantaneous axis (3.19) exists (i.e.,
when both gear axes lie within a plane). In this situation, the most simple surface of action is
a plane which passes through the instantaneous axis:
x(, ) =



1
(b

b
)
b
a

b
a
+ (b1 b2 )+ d
1
2
1
1
2
2
b1 b2 2
(6.1)

with , R and d R3 an unit vector which is perpendicular to the direction (b1 b2 )


of the instantaneous axis.
This plane has the (constant) normal vector
n = (b1 b2 ) d.

(6.2)

We get




r(x(, )) = b1 x(, ) a1 b2 x(, ) a2

(6.3)

= (b1 a1 b2 a2 ) + (b1 b2 ) x(, )


= (b1 a1 b2 a2 )
1
(b1 b2 )

b1 b2 2


(b1 b2 ) (b1 a1 b2 a2 )
+ (b1 b2 ) (b1 b2 ) + (b1 b2 ) d
= (b1 a1 b2 a2 )



1
(b

b
),
(b

a
)
(b1 b2 )

1
2
1
1
2
2
b1 b2 2

b1 b2 2 (b1 a1 b2 a2 )
+ (b1 b2 ) d
= (b1 b2 ) d.
In the last line, we used equation (3.20). The factor can be computed from (5.24). Nevertheless, it is not needed in the following since r is always parallel to n in the special case
under consideration.
Now, we pick an initial point ((0 ), (0 )) R2 on the surface of action. Its dynamics
for = 0 is given by the differential equation (5.27):



x((), ()) = b1 x((), ()) a1 + r(x((), ())) (6.4)

This becomes (using, again, (3.20))





(b1 b2 ),
x((), ())

() =

b1 b2 2
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(6.5)

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GAMM-Mitt. 32, No. 1 (2009)

75





(b1 b2 ), b1 x((), ()) a1 + (b1 b2 ) d
b1 b2 2



(b1 b2 ), b1 x((), ()) a1

b1 b2 2



(b1 b2 ), b1 (b1 b2 ) (b1 a1 b2 a2 )


b1 b2 4


()
(b

b
),
b

(b

b
)
1
2
1
1
2
b1 b2 2


()
(b
+

b
),
b

d
1
2
1
b1 b2 2


(b1 b2 ), b1 a1

b1 b2 2
det(a2 , b1 , b2 )
=
b1 b2 2



b1 , (b1 b2 ) (b1 b2 ), (b1 a1 b2 a2 )
+
b1 b2 4
det(b1 , b2 , d)
+
()
b1 b2 2
det(a1 , b1 , b2 )

b1 b2 2
det(a1 a2 , b1 , b2 ) det(b1 , b2 , d)
=
+
()
b1 b2 2
b1 b2 2
det(b1 , b2 , d)
()
=
b1 b2 2
+

and



() = d,
x((), ())

 

(6.6)

= d, b1 x((), ()) a1 + (b1 b2 ) d



= d, b1 x((), ()) a1



d, b1 (b1 b2 ) (b1 a1 b2 a2 )
=
b1 b2 2



 

+ () d, b1 (b1 b2 ) + () d, b1 d d, b1 a1



d, (b1 b2 ) b1 , (b1 a1 b2 a2 )
=
b1 b2 2

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76

A. Johann and J. Scheurle: On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary gear geometries


+



d, (b1 a1 b2 a2 ) b1 , (b1 b2 )

b1 b2 2
det(b1 , b2 , d) () + det(a1 , b1 , d)

1 b1 , b2  
d, (b1 a1 b2 a2 ) + det(a1 , b1 , d)
=
2
b1 b2 
det(b1 , b2 , d) ().
Thus, we end up with a system of linear differential equations of the form

() = A ()

() = AB 2 () + C

with A, C R and B = b1 b2  > 0. For A = 0, it has the solution


(0 )
C
sin(AB( 0 )) +
B
AB 2
() = (0 ) cos(AB( 0 )) B(0 ) sin(AB( 0 ))

() = (0 ) cos(AB( 0 )) +

(6.7)

(6.8)

and in the special case A = 0


() = (0 )

(6.9)

() = (0 ) + C( 0 ).
Therefore, this solution gives for any initial point x(0 ) = x((0 ), (0 )) a path
x() = x((), ())

(6.10)

in the surface of action. As before, we get the corresponding path on the conjugate flanks
by (5.18) and (5.19), respectively. Using a family of initial conditions (parametrized by a
parameter ), we can combine these individual paths, as before, to flanks with any kind of
cut.
To become even more concrete, let us now consider the special case of spur gears. Then,
b2 = b1

(6.11)

and we get
det(b1 , b2 , d)
=0
b1 b2 2
B = b1 b2  = 1 +

1 b1 , b2  
d,
(b

a
)
+ det(a1 , b1 , d)
C=
1
1
2
2
b1 b2 2

1 
=
d, b1 (a1 + a2 ) + det(a1 , b1 , d)
1+
1
det(a1 + a2 , b1 , d) + det(a1 , b1 , d)
=
1+
det(a1 a2 , b1 , d)
.
=
1+
A=

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(6.12)

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GAMM-Mitt. 32, No. 1 (2009)

77

For 0 = 0, this leads to


() = (0)

(6.13)

det(a1 a2 , b1 , d)
.
() = (0) +
1+
By (6.1), we get

det(a1 a2 , b1 , d) 
x() = x (0), (0) +

1+

1 
(a1 + a2 ) b1 , (a1 + a2 )b1
=
1+

det(a1 a2 , b1 , d) 
d.
+ (1 + )(0) b1 + (0) +
1+

(6.14)

Using the shortcut notation ai = ai b1 , ai b1 , this becomes


x() =



1  
det(a1 a2 , b1 , d) 
d.
a1 + a2 + (1 + )(0) b1 + (0) +
1+
1+
(6.15)

Thus, the line of contact moves along the surface of action with constant velocity into the
direction d.
Now, equations (5.18) and (5.19) give the corresponding flanks on both gears in zero position. In order to simplify notation, consider a coordinate system in which a1 = (0, 1, 0),
a2 = (0, 1 , 0), b1 = (0, 0, 1)T and d = (cos , sin , 0). Then, we get

((0) + cos ) cos


x() = ((0) + cos ) sin
(1 + )(0)

(6.16)

and by (5.18)


y1 () = (0, 1, 0)T + D(0,0,1)T () x() (0, 1, 0)T
(6.17)

((0) + cos + sin ) cos( ) cos sin( )


= 1 ((0) + cos + sin ) sin( ) cos cos( ) .
(1 + )(0)
By the reparametrization t = +

(0)+sin
,
cos

this becomes

t cos t sin t
0
 (0) + sin

+cos D(0,0,1)T
1
y1 (t) =
+ t sin t cos t
cos
0
(1 + )(0)
(6.18)

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78

A. Johann and J. Scheurle: On the generation of conjugate flanks for arbitrary gear geometries

which, as a matter of fact, is the well known involute profile (as expected for a planar surface
of action). Finally, (5.19) gives the flank on the second gear:


(6.19)
y2 () = (0, 1 , 0)T + D(0,0,1)T () x() (0, 1 , 0)T

((0) + cos 1 sin ) cos( ) 1 cos sin( )


= 1 + ((0) + cos 1 sin ) sin( ) 1 cos cos( )
(1 + )(0)
which is also of involute type. Again, it can be transformed by the reparametrization t =

+ (0)sin
into the more convenient form
cos

1
y2 (t) =
(1 + )(0)

1
cos D(0,0,1)T

(6.20)
 (0) sin
cos

t cos t sin t
+ t sin t + cos t .
0


As a second example, let us consider a pair of bevel gears with


a1 = (0, 0, 0)T

(6.21)

b1 = (0, 0, 1)
n1 = 20
and


1 T
a2 = 1, 0,
4
b2 = (1, 0, 0)T
n2 = 5.
We get =

n1
n2

x=

(6.22)

= 4 and the instantaneous axis


1
(1, 0, 4)T + (4, 0, 1)T .
17

(6.23)

Using
1
d = (0, 1, 1),
2

(6.24)

we obtain the surface of action


x(, ) =

1
(1, 0, 4)T + (4, 0, 1)T + (0, 1, 1)T
17
2

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(6.25)

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GAMM-Mitt. 32, No. 1 (2009)

79

and

det(b1 , b2 , d)
2 2
(6.26)
=
b1 b2 2
17

B = b1 b2  = 17

1 b1 , b2  
1
d,
(b
C=

a
)
+ det(a1 , b1 , d) = .
1
1
2
2
b1 b2 2
17 2
A=

With 0 = 0 and the initial condition ((0), (0)) = (, 0), this leads to the solution
 8 
1
+
(6.27)
() = cos
17
68

 8 

() = 17 sin
.
17
The corresponding flanks (for 0.3 0.2 and n1

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.2

0.3

0.5
0.2

1
0.2

0.1

0.5
0.2

are plotted in figure 2.

0.3

0.3

0.3

n1 )

0.5
0.2

1
0.2

0.1

0.1
y

0.2

0.3

1
0.2

0.1

0.1

0.2

0.3

Fig. 2 Motion of a pair of conjugate flanks.

Acknowledgements We thank Professor Dr.-Ing. B.-R. Hohn from the engineering department of our
university and members of his research group for stimulating discussions that gave rise to our interest in
the mathematics of gearing.

References
[1] E. Buckingham, Analytical Mechanics of Gears, Dover Publications, New York (1963).
[2] D. B. Dooner and A. A. Seireg, The Kinematic Geometry of Gearing, J. Wiley, New York (1995).
[3] A. Dyson, A General Theory of the Kinematics and Geometry of Gears in Three Dimensions, Clarendon Press, Oxford (1969).
[4] L. Euler, De aptissima figura rotarum dentibus tribuenda (1754/5).
[5] L. Euler, Supplementum de figura dentium rotarum (1765).
[6] F. L. Litvin, Theory of Gearing, NASA Reference Publication 1212 (1989).
[7] M.-F. Tsay and Z.-H. Fong, Study on the Generalized Mathematical Model of Noncircular Gears,
Mathematical and Computer Modelling 41 (2005), 555-569.
[8] O. Vogel, A. Griewank and G. Bar, Direct gear tooth contact analysis for hypoid bevel gears, Comput. Methods Appl. Mech. Engrg. 191 (2002), 3965-3982.

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