What’s a helical gear?

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Helical gears have angled teeth that engage slowly and smoothly, making them quieter and smoother than other gears. They transfer force and come in different sizes for various tasks. Helical gears wear less and generate less thrust load. Double helical gears have two sets of teeth and reduce thrust load.

A helical gear is a gear with teeth that are set at an angle. The angled teeth engage slowly and smoothly, making a helical gear quieter and smoother than many other types of gears. For this reason cars are often fitted with helical gears and this design can be used in many other applications as well. These gears come in a range of sizes for a variety of tasks.

Gears are designed to transfer force, to other gears or to other objects. They have a distinct mechanical advantage in that a small gear can be used to turn a larger gear, multiplying the force. Cyclists are well aware of this mechanical advantage, as changing the gear ratio on a bicycle will either force a cyclist to do more work or make a cyclist’s job easier. Lower gear ratios, where the gears are close to the same size, require less energy, but also generate less rotational motion, while high gear ratios force the rider to work harder, but create much more rotational force.

When people think of gears, they often think of a spur gear, the classic gear-shaped gear with simple straight teeth. Helical gears are similar in design, except that the teeth run diagonally along the side of the gear, rather than being oriented perpendicularly. The helical gear design has some definite advantages behind smoother and quieter operation caused by the slow meshing of the helical gears. Helical gears tend to wear less quickly because the force load is distributed rather than concentrated and the teeth are less prone to chipping.

In addition to interfacing in a parallel plane, with the gears side by side, most helical gears can also work perpendicular to each other when the gear teeth are designed correctly. This can be a little trick in some cases. The helical gear design tends to generate a heavy thrust load, a load parallel to the shaft, but this can be compensated for by the use of special bearings.

In a variation of the basic helical gear known as a double helical gear or herringbone gear, the gear has two sets of teeth side by side, angled at different angles. This reduces the amount of thrust, eliminating the need to use specialized bearings. Herringbone gears can have a V-shaped pattern or two sets of angled teeth with a groove in between, depending on the age of the gears and where they were made. Older manufacturing techniques usually required a depression in the middle of the double helical gear, while newer gears tend not to have this feature.

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