Improved materials and design practices are putting plastic gears into increasingly demanding applications. One example is increasing use in Europe of plastic actuators at rear wheels that transfer power to parking brake systems. Other automotive uses include gear in doors, where new low-emission grades of polyacetal have been developed.
Any precision gears probably will be custom gears. Design rules for plastic are entirely different than they are for metal. One old problem in plastic gear design is misaligned mating spur and helical gear surfaces. A newly adapted gear design handbook from ABA/PGT of Manchester, CT, describes how to crown gear teeth to avoid the problem. Another good design reference is a downloadable brochure from UFE of Stillwater, MN, that covers "must-ask questions" about plastic gear design.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.