innovative carburized case-hardening process that increases the strength of precision
gear racks, including the tooth flanks and root, maximizes power density,
stiffness and performance. The Strong Line class of gear racks from Atlanta
Drive Systems Inc. enables designers to use smaller rack sizes, compared to traditional
gear racks, and can increase the performance of existing systems.
"What is revolutionary is that this
is the first rack on the market that is completely case-hardened with
root-hardened teeth. It achieves the maximum power density, since there isn't
anything more you can do to the rack to increase the power it can transmit,"
says John Entwistle, vice president of engineering with Atlanta Drive Systems. "For
design engineers, it decreases the size of the rack required in applications. The
more power-dense rack makes it possible to have smaller designs, and the rack
required for an application typically drops down a size. In existing
applications, the new rack increases the capabilities and performance of the
"By completely case-hardening the rack, you
harden the root as well as the sides and back of the rack and the mounting
holes. This allows the back surface of the racks to be used with cam follower
roller bearings for guiding the axis," Entwistle continues. The racks are
precision ground on the teeth and all sides to achieve extremely accurate pitch
deviation and parallelism. Rack mounting holes are optimized for maximum
holding force to insure the rack remains stationary under high forces.
Racks are typically sized based on
the acceleration and torque needed for a machine to ramp up-to-speed. The new
racks allow the design to push harder during acceleration and carry more mass.
With root hardening, the rack is also stiffer and there is less deflection
under load. †
Entwistle says there is more demand
for hardened racks now, especially with machine tool and aerospace customers
who need the stiffness and power density that the rack provides. With this new
product, we are showing a way to increase the forces that a rack can transmit
and increase the performance of a machine.
With a simple, soft milled gear rack, the
limits to the amount of force that can be transmitted are based on the bending
and pitting strength of the teeth. Because the teeth are soft, the limit is the
pitting strength or contact pressure between teeth. Hardening the teeth
increases the allowable contact pressure and changes the limit from pitting strength
to bending strength.
There are racks available on the
market where the flanks are hardened to increase the allowable contact
pressure. So the only way to further increase the capacity of the rack is to
root-harden the base of the teeth. But it's very difficult to reach between the
teeth with an induction hardening process, and is expensive and difficult to
With rack-and-pinion applications, Entwistle
says there are always several solutions for a machine, at several different
price points. The hardened racks provide a high-end solution for engineers
designing high-performance machines. The Strong Line gear racks are available
in straight and helical versions, and can be combined with precision pinions
and servo reducers to create an ultra-high-precision rack-and-pinion drive