Why do I need a gearhead, and how do I choose which one?

A gearhead is a component which moderates and gives more control to the input and output of power; it can add or reduce torque according to the requirements of your application and prevent damage to other components in the drive sequence by controlling the force emitted.

As a cost-saving measure people often opt to leave gearheads out of their design, but motion control systems vary enormously – and few things are more frustrating than finding late on in the design process of your intended application that a gearhead will, in fact, be a necessary component – adding delays, impacting the cost of the project, and leading to a redesign that could have been avoided.

Designing a gearhead into the project right from the beginning means you need to understand and appreciate the benefits including one will bring – so let us talk you through those advantages, and which of our gearheads would suit your specific project design.

Know what you want

By far the most important aspect of design engineering is a sure understanding of what the design is required to achieve. This includes details like load requirements, , torque profile, system stiffness, environmental concerns as well as what style of gearhead you require due to space: right angle, inline or one of the other options – all of which you can explore on our product page.

The more specific knowledge you have in advance, the easier it is to design, without having to redesign, an appropriate motion system which will meet those needs.

Factoring a gearhead into that design allows for greater flexibility later – and could save you a lot of headaches if those specifications change as more detail is confirmed. Ratios can be changed but physical sizes are the same, so late changes can be overcome by ratio changes in the to improve output torque or increase speed.

The priorities of the application may be speed matching, adapting to varying loads, inertia matching or variable torque; all of these require careful selection of the right gearheads – and this is a decision we are more than able to help you to make.

Include a gearhead right from word go

We know that cost is a big factor (if not the biggest!) influencing every design, so many designers will try to keep the number of components to a minimum.

This often means that a gearhead is left out, hoping that the motor can cope without the extra component and cost – but as things begin to come together you discover that it hasn’t quite worked out that way…

This often happens right at the last minute, when the whole project is about to be signed off and either shipped to a customer or set into use – at which point it’s not only a headache to change the design, it can also cause delays in delivery, incur further costs for redesigning and adding components, and could even lose you the customer.

It can also mean trying to squeeze a gearhead into a design that never made space for one – which impacts the effective performance of the gearhead too!

If you want confidence in your design, reliable motion control and benefits with system response, stiffness and resolution, it’s vital to include the gearhead through the design process; the benefits include motor size reduction, speed changes via ratios and even space saving with right angle gearboxes….make the cost worthwhile – and nine times out of ten you would end up coming back to add one, or wishing you had!

What do we mean ‘system response’?

There are occasions when the application inertia is significantly greater than the inertia of the motor; this leads to a disappointing motion reaction and a less effective output than you may have hoped for.

If, however, you include a gearhead in your application it can increase the inertia of the drive and decrease or eliminate the mismatch of Motor to Application inertia.

This means that using a gearhead allows the motor to power greater magnitudes, handling the required load with energy to spare. In an ideal world the motor’s rotor inertia will be as close to equalling the application load inertia as is possible, allowing for effective and responsive systems.

Match the speed

Another advantage of including the right gearhead in your design is speed matching; this enhances the performance of your final design. With most electric motors you’ll find that there’s an optimum speed (RPM) where they are at their most efficient. Using a gearhead means that you can achieve two, separate, favourable speeds – one which is optimal from the motor (its original optimum speed) and one – thanks to the gearhead – which is optimum for the application.

If you factor this ability into your design from the initial concept it will allow for better productivity and longer lasting components, as everything is working within optimum range.

Torsional Stiffness and resolution

Gearheads can improve the torsional stiffness of your design; this may be something you haven’t considered – but if the application lacks stiffness there are a number of problems you might find yourself facing.

These can include premature wear of the components, vibrations or harmonics (ringing) in the system, impacted system compliance and unpredictable output and performance.

The inclusion of a gearhead will not only increase the rigidity and stiffness of your motion system, it will also positively impact the management of the load, making for a more reliable and precise system.

This more responsive, more powerful and longer lasting system leads to better system resolution – thus more precise movement control. For example, a 10:1 ratio gearhead, coupled with a motor, magnifies the positioning ability of the design – meaning more accuracy and precision by a factor of 10.

Call our team today on 01234 360689 or use our contact form to request a callback to discuss your design, and let’s work together on perfecting it.