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Vol. 25 nr 2 Archiwum Technologii Maszyn i Automatyzacji 2005




Selected types of reducing gears currently applied in feed motion rotary drives are presented in
this paper. Referring to industry experience the methods of backlash adjustment are described.
Their advantages as well as disadvantages related to operation and wearing process are pointed.
A new type of spiroid gear mating with double-lead worm and deprived of operating disadvan-
tages is proposed by the author.

Key words: plane spiroid gear, backlash adjustment


As the reducing gears in rotary feed motion drive of machine tools (esp. rotary
tables) are mainly used worm gears, rarely cycloidal gears, and recently more
often spiroid gears. The wear life of a mechanical gear applied in the feed motion
drive strongly influences the machine tool operating cost. An effective measure-
ment of the gear wear life is the appearing backlash, which introduces hysteresis.
Non-backlash motion is particularly desired when realising reversible moves.



The methods of adjustment the backlash depicted in Fig. 1 are often applied in
rotary tables. In worm gear changing the centre distance or axial movement of the
double-lead worm does modify the backlash value. Radial movement of the cylin-
drical worm towards the toothing reduces the backlash in a plane spiroid gear,
however axial movement of the conical one changes the backlash in a spiroid gear.
A new conception that has already been applied for a patent, of a plane spiroid
gear mating with double-lead worm is proposed by the author [1, 2].

Mgr inż. – Poznan University of Technology, Institute of Mechanical Technology.
106 A. Gessner

Type of gear

worm gear plane spiroid gear spiroid gear

of backlash adjustment

with cylindrical worm

The method

with double-lead worm

Fig. 1. The methods of backlash adjustment in reduction gear

Rys. 1. Sposoby kasowania luzu w wybranych przekładniach redukujących

2.1. Backlash adjustment in worm gear

Worm gears have been mainly applied in rotary tables. An older type that is not
used anymore offers backlash adjustment thanks to eccentric mounting of the
worm wheel, which allows changing the centre distance. In contemporary used
worm gears backlash is modifying by axial movement of the double-lead worm.
Such a worm has different lead for each flank, so the thread thickness in the axial
section is variable. Thanks to this feature screwing in the worm in the immobile
worm wheel does adjust the backlash. As one turn of the worm causes the axial
section of the tooth moves one lead, for double-lead worm one turn will cause the
backlash changes by lead difference. The lead difference influences the precision
and limits the range of adjustment. Appropriate equations describing these de-
pendencies can be found in [6].
The friction between the mating surfaces causes the worm wheel teeth wear on
the active flanks and it results in backlash appearing (Fig. 2). When the backlash
exceeds the acceptable value it is reduced by means of axial motion of the worm.
As the range of backlash adjustment is limited by the leads difference, worn out
gear needs to be replaced.
Lengthen the wear life is possible by increasing the number of teeth in mesh.
Contact ratio of worm gears doesn’t exceed 2.4, however the same parameter for
spiroid gears reaches 10 or even more [3]. Higher contact ratio means lower pres-
sure on a single tooth, which strongly lengthen the wear life. Additionally the
more teeth are engaged, the less influence has the pitch error on the kinematic
accuracy. This kind of gear requires higher precision of manufacturing, because
the pitch error influences the force shares unequally on meshing teeth. This fact
results in rapid wear and on one hand it decreases the maximum allowable load [5]
whilst on the other hand decreases also toothing errors (lapping).
The methods of backlash adjustment in gears applied in rotary tables 107
a) p2 p1


Fig. 2. Simplified model of wearing
a worm-gear and backlash adjustment;
a) brand new gear, b) gear after some
operating time with minimised backlash;
p1, p2 – worm leads for the opposite sites
of the tooth
Rys. 2. Uproszczony model zużywania się
ślimacznicy i kasowania luzu w przekładni
dwuskokowej: a) przekładnia nowa,
b) przekładnia po okresie eksploatacji
i skasowaniu luzu; p1, p2 – skoki ślimaka
na przeciwległych stronach zęba

2.2. Backlash adjustment in plane spiroid gear

Backlash adjustment in this kind of gear (Fig. 3a) is affordable by axial move-
ment of the worm wheel (which is technically hard to realise) or by radial move-
ment of the worm. An industrial solution to this problem is applying an eccentric
bearing sleeve to guide the worm (Fig. 3b).

a) b)

Fig. 3. Components of a spiroid gear (a) and using an eccentric bush for guiding the worm (b) [7]
Rys. 3. Płaska przekładnia spiroidalna przed montażem (a) i sposób łożyskowania ślimaka w tulei
mimośrodowej (b) [7]
108 A. Gessner

A disadvantages of using an eccentric bush to adjust backlash is changing the

centre distance, which results in change the transverse path of contact and worsen
mating conditions.
The conception of using eccentric and diagrams of displacement of worm axis
in directions related to backlash adjustment and change centre distance is pre-
sented in Fig. 4. Even though within the chosen range of the eccentric’s angle of
rotation the change of centre axis is rather small, the industrial experience proofed
that every backlash adjustment requires gear lapping.




Fig. 4. Radial movement of worm and the ec-

centric backlash adjustment: a) single eccen-
tric and characteristic of vertical and horizon-
tal movements, – backlash adjustment,
– change of gear axes distance; b) double
Rys. 4. Przesuw promieniowy ślimaka i kaso-
wanie luzu z wykorzystaniem mimośrodów: a)
pojedynczy mimośród i wykresy przemiesz-
czeń poziomych i pionowych, – kasowanie
luzu, – zmiana odległości osi przekładni;
b) dwa mimośrody

It is theoretically possible using twin eccentrics mating in such way that the
axis centre doesn’t change. An example based on this idea is showed in Fig. 4. The
main purpose of the larger eccentric bush is radial displacement of the worm –
backlash adjustment. Rotations of the internal bush allow compensating the chang-
The methods of backlash adjustment in gears applied in rotary tables 109

ing of centre distance. This solution makes the construction more complex and
also decreases rigidity of guiding worm by adding an extra rotating joint.
The simplified model of wearing out of plane spiroid gear toothing is presented
in Fig. 5. It is assumed that worm as well as worm wheel wears. As the wear of
gear increases the teeth thick decreases, moreover the intensity of wear depends on
the gear material and the size of load. Wide material selection is available in de-
signing process of a spiroid gear. Worm and worm wheel are usually made from
hardened steel and bronze respectively. The worm is additionally grinded. The
offered material options are i.a.: steel on steel, steel on bronze, plastic, powdered
metal, aluminium [10].
Choosing wear-proof worm material is recommended because of the relative
longer operating time of the worm threads (depending on the gear ratio) compar-
ing to that of each worm wheel tooth. Reduc-
ing the appearing backlash (Fig. 5c) is done by
radial displacement of worm. Wear the mating a)
surfaces of the teeth causes interference of
toothing geometry showed in Fig. 5d. Because
of this reason the mating surface of the mesh-
ing teeth drastically decreases, which results in
rapid wearing out and short wear life until the
gear needs successive backlash adjustment.


Fig. 5. Simplified model of appearing and adjusting the

backlash in plane spiroid geara) a brand new gear,
b) the areas of wearing out, c) the backlash in the gear,
d) the interference while backlash reducing
Rys. 5. Uproszczony model powstawania i kasowania l1 l2
luzu w płaskiej przekładni spiroidalnej: a) przekładnia
nowa, b) obszary wycierania się uzębienia, c) luz
w przekładni, d) interferencja podczas kasowania luzu

On the basis of the presented wearing out model of plane spiroid gear two
methods of backlash adjustment are proposed. They are showed in a graphically
way in Fig. 6. The value of backlash that needs to be reduced is determined by
ld_max. Considering that after a regulation the teeth mating proceeds according to
Fig. 5d, so the wearing process increases (higher angle of depression of the graph
presenting the backlash value). As the backlash value reaches l2 the teeth mate
within the total working height, which is noticeable because of the decreased
wearing process. Referring to the diagram in Fig. 6a the operating time T2 between
successive adjustment is much shorter then the time T2 of a brand new gear.
110 A. Gessner

a) b)
l1 l1
ld_max ld_max


l2 l3

t1 t2 t1 t2 t3t4 operating time

operating time
T1 T2 T1 T3

Fig. 6. The methods of backlash adjustment in plane spiroid gear (the description in text): a) a ty-
pical method of backlash reducing, b) the improved method proposed by the author
Rys. 6. Metody kasowania luzu w płaskiej przekładni spiroidalnej (opis w tekście): a) typowa
metoda kasowania luzu, b) ulepszona metoda zaproponowana przez autora

The main object of the second method of adjustment proposed by the author
and showed in Fig. 6b is to reduce the backlash in toothing mating within the total
working height to the value ld_min. One can achieve it by reducing the backlash a
few times in sequence with short periods of operating time between the regula-
tions. The lengths of the periods are just long enough to wear the interference ge-
ometry and reach total working height of the teeth. Those moments of time are
adequate to the backlash values l1, l2, l3, l4 respectively. Thanks to this method the
wear life T3 is considerably prolonged in relation to T2.

2.3. Backlash adjustment in spiroid gear

The process of backlash adjustment in a spiroid gear is adequate to that of

worm gear. The conical worm needs to be screw in in the immobile worm wheel.

a) b)

l1 l2

Fig. 7. Simplified model of appearing and adjusting the backlash in spiroid gear: a) a brand new
gear, b) the backlash in the gear, c) the interference while backlash reducing
Rys. 7. Uproszczony model powstawania i kasowania luzu w stożkowej przekładni spiroidalnej:
a) przekładnia nowa, b) luz w przekładni, c) interferencja podczas kasowania luzu
The methods of backlash adjustment in gears applied in rotary tables 111

The axial displacement of the worm is technically simpler to achieve then the
radial one used in plane spiroid gear.
Because of the conical shape of the worm shaft, its external diameter changes
in the current cross-section when moving it axially. Described feature causes inter-
ference of the partial wear teeth while reducing backlash and worsen the operating
quality of that gear. This phenomenon is adequate to that of a plane spiroid gear
and is presented in Fig. 7.
Presented models of wearing out plane and regular spiroid gear reveal their
crucial disadvantage relevant to mating partial wear teeth after reducing backlash.


Within undertaken researches the author proposed a new type of spiroid gear
mating with double-lead worm with enhanced operating quality. It is characterised
of high contact ratio and ease of backlash reducing by means of the axial dis-
placement of worm (adequate to worm gear) but there is no interference of partial
wear teeth.
Fig. 8. Dimensions of spiroid gear mating
with double-lead worm; Ri – internal radius
of worm-wheel, Re – external radius of
worm-wheel, Rw1 – base radius of involute lw1 lw2
tooth trace of the convex flank, Rw2 – base
radius of involute tooth trace of the concave
flank, a0 – centre distance, lw1 – working
length of the worm, lw2 – additional worm
length for backlash adjustment
Rys. 8. Wymiary przekładni spiroidalnej Ri
współpracującej ze ślimakiem dwuskoko- Rw2
wym; Ri – promień wewnętrzny koła, Re –
promień zewnętrzny koła, Rw1 – promień
toczny ewolwenty boku wypukłego, Rw2 – a0
promień toczny ewolwenty boku wklęsłego,
a0 – odległość osi przekładni, lw1 – długość
części roboczej ślimaka, lw2 – długość prze-
widziana do kasowania luzu

The worm wheel toothing height is constant within the whole width. The tooth
trace is a modified involute of different base diameter for each flank. Because of
that feature the tooth space thick of the worm wheel is variable in the right section
of the tooth trace, which is the necessary condition for a worm wheel to mate with
a double-lead worm. The scheme of that gear is presented in Fig. 8.
Backlash can be adjusted and reduced by means of screw in the worm in the
immobile worm wheel (axial displacement of the worm) which is adequate to
112 A. Gessner

worm gear. Displacement of worm in its axial direction is technically easier to

achieve than in radial one, additionally there is no centre distant change, which is
one of the main disadvantages of using eccentric. Another operating advantage is
lack of the interference of partial wear teeth during backlash reducing process.
p1 p2

sw1 sw2
l1 l2

Fig. 9. Simplified model of appearing and adjusting the backlash in spiroid gear mating with
double-lead worm
Rys. 9. Uproszczony model pojawiania się i kasowania luzu w przekładni spiroidalnej przeznaczo-
nej do współpracy ze ślimakiem dwuskokowym

Simplified model depicting the phenomena of appearing and reducing backlash

in this kind of gear is presented in Fig. 9. The lengths sw1 and sw2 stand for the areas
of wearing out the worm wheel and the additional length l2 of the worm is needed
for axial displacement while reducing the backlash.


In the paper reducing gears applied contemporary in rotary tables drives have
been specified. The aspect of reducing the backlash appearing in operated gear has
been emphasised. Simplified models revealing operating disadvantages of back-
lash reducing in applied gears have been presented. New type of spiroid gear de-
void of mentioned disadvantages has been developed. The idea of that gear as well
as its scheme has been presented. The technology of that gear has been applied for
a patent [1, 2].


[1] Gessner A., Grajdek R., Ptaszyński W., Staniek R., Sposób kształtowania uzębienia czo-
łowego płaskiej przekładni spiroidalnej przeznaczonego do współpracy ze ślimakiem dwu-
skokowym, zgłoszenie patentowe nr P367471, 21.04.2004.
The methods of backlash adjustment in gears applied in rotary tables 113

[2] Gessner A., Staniek R., Sposób kształtowania uzębienia czołowego płaskiej przekładni
spiroidalnej przeznaczonego do współpracy ze ślimakiem dwuskokowym, zgłoszenie paten-
towe nr P368706, 23.06.2004.
[3] Grajdek R., Uzębienia czołowe. Podstawy teoretyczne kształtowania i nowe zastosowania,
Poznań, Wydawnictwo Politechniki Poznańskiej 2000.
[4] http://www.itwspiroid.com/, dostęp 20.04.2005.
[5] http://www.stepanlunin.com/, dostęp 20.04.2005.
[6] Kornberger Z., Przekładnie ślimakowe, Warszawa, WNT 1971.
[7] Staniek R., Stoły obrotowe sterowane numerycznie. Podstawy teoretyczne, konstrukcja,
technologia i badania, Poznań, Wydawnictwo Politechniki Poznańskiej 2005.

Received 29.04.2005 Presented by dr hab. inż. Tadeusz Marciniak



S t r e s z c z e n i e

W artykule przedstawiono wybrane typy przekładni redukujących stosowanych współcześnie

w napędach posuwowych o ruchu obrotowym maszyn technologicznych. Omówiono sposoby
nastawiania (kasowania) luzu w tych przekładniach stosowane w praktyce przemysłowej. Wska-
zano ich zalety i wady wiążące się z eksploatacją i zużywaniem się. Przedstawiono nowy typ
przekładni spiroidalnej współpracującej ze ślimakiem dwuskokowym o lepszych właściwościach

Słowa kluczowe: płaska przekładnia spiroidalna, kasowanie luzu