News & Events

Vol. 6, 2010


Join the Gear Research Institute!

Despite some of the worst economic times in our generation GRI has come thru pretty much intact. We have added a significant new member, and welcome GE’s Global Research as a member to the Aerospace Bloc, with James Bishar (Penn State alum) as its official representative.

The continued vitality of the Aerospace Bloc allowed us to initiate a new project, which is described in some detail in this newsletter. This is a cooperative research group that has been in continuous existence since 1988 and still going strong.

Single-client business has been slow but steady as we continue to serve our domestic and foreign sponsors. As continued sponsorship is always a clear indication of satisfaction with our performance, I am pleased to report that we have received six individual contracts from the same European sponsor in the last 3 years. Our major domestic single-client sponsor has also indicated additional work in the near future and that is always very heartening.

Suren Rao attended the one day regional meeting of AGMA’s Strategic Resources Network in Erie, PA and was given the opportunity to make a presentation on the research related activities at GRI. I would like to thank Jack Masseth of Arvin Meritor (and a member of GRI’s Board of Trustees), for this opportunity. The slides of the entire presentation are posted at the Institute’s web site A few of the attendees at the meeting remarked, at the end of Suren Rao’s presentation, that they now know what GRI does. We have had two attendees from this meeting join GRI recently as Corporate members and will host another on a tour of GRI next month. We hope this will translate into support and sponsorship for the Institute and its activities. 

Sam R. Haines


Research Projects

Next Generation Gear Alloys: The Aerospace Bloc of the Institute has just approved a new project to evaluate the contact fatigue and bending fatigue characteristics of two alloys specifically designed and concocted for high performance gear applications. Designated Ferrium® C61 and Ferrium® C64, these alloys were designed by Questek Innovations of Evanston, IL, utilizing their proprietary Materials by Design® technology.

While it appears that the US economy averted a catastrophe, business conditions continue to be lethargic, at best. We, at GRI, are still busy and hope 2010 will bring a revival of the gear industry and impact us in a positive manner. We hope 2010 sees your business return as well.


Table 1. Typical Core Properties

A quick comparative assessment of their typical core properties (table 1 from ref. 1) with Pyrowear 53 (AMS 6308) clearly shows their superiority. With very competitive fracture toughness but considerably higher yield strength, ultimate tensile strength and surface hardness the three Ferrium® alloys demonstrate potential. The high tempering temperatures of these alloys, especially in comparison to AISI 9310, also makes them very attractive.


Figure 1. Bending Fatigue Characteristics

Limited gear testing for both bending and contact fatigue, some of it conducted at GRI under Questek’s sponsorship (figure1from ref. 1), also demonstrate promise. In figure 1 the tooth bending fatigue characteristics of C64 (in red) is compared to Pyrowear 53 (in blue). Considering that the processing of C64 is “fresh out of the box” with no optimization of the processing while we have had significantly more experience with the Pyrowear 53, the results are impressive.

The new project initiated continues the evaluation of fatigue characteristics of a number of innovative, promising gear alloys. These include the evaluation of Pyrowear 675 and CSS42L. C61 and C64 will also be evaluated in a similar manner that constitutes rolling/sliding contact fatigue tests (on cylindrical test specimens), tooth bending fatigue tests and tooth impact resistance tests. Additional investigations on gas quenching and oil-off operation are also being considered in this project. Once the characteristics of these 4 alloys are established a comparative analysis with AMS 6308 data, which is already available, will identify the best alloy for the next generation of high-power density, aerospace gears.

1. Wright J. A., Sebastian J. T., Kern C. P., Kooy R. J., “Design Development and Application of new high performance steels”, AGMA FTM, 09FTM14.

Education and Training

While we continue to support research experience for undergraduates (we graduated a ME and hired another senior for this summer and the 2010-2011 academic years) our attempt to raise sufficient funds to support students through corporate membership was not very successful. Fortunately, continued support of the Institute by our sponsors provided the means to continue this activity. We welcome your comments on the very idea of research experience for undergraduates and your input of how we can generate the necessary support to encourage this opportunity.

The Gear Research Institute is a non profit corporation. It has contracted with the Applied Research Laboratory of The Pennsylvania State University to conduct its activities, as a sponsor within the Drivetrain Technology Center. The Gear Research Institute is equipped with extensive research capabilities. These include rolling contact fatigue (RCF) testers for low- and high-temperature roller testing, power circulating (PC) gear testers for parallel axis gears with a 4-inch center distance (testers can be modified to accommodate other center distances), single tooth fatigue (STF) testers for spur and helical gears, gear tooth impact tester, and worm gear testers with 1.75 and 4-inch center distances. Extensive metallurgical characterization facilities are also available at Penn State in support of the Gear Research Institute. For further details on our testing capabilities please go to the Drivetrain Technology Center website or call Dr. Suren Rao, Managing Director, at (814) 865-3537.

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