As 2008 came to close and 2009 dawned, cataclysmic events have rocked the United States and the international financial sector. This has lead to a severe retrenchment in industrial production and other facets of our economy. The impact of these events on the Gear Research Institute, though muted, has been no exception. At least one major research contract with a major industrial manufacturer of farm equipment, that had been a “sure thing”, was cancelled. Fortunately, the aerospace sector, which forms a significant component of our current activities, continues to be relatively stable and continues to support research at the Institute. While I am distressed at the narrowing of our sponsor base, the Institute’s healthy backlog in R&D funding should see us through 2009, relatively unscathed. Hopefully, things will turn around by then for us to be able to attract other sponsors and other projects for the future.
We had a major change in leadership at the Institute. Gary Kimmet stepped down from the position of president, on his retirement from the Gleason Corporation, at the end of 2008. We wish Gary the very best in his retirement and thank him profusely for his long and selfless service to the Institute. As a good friend I have known since the 1980s, when I was in industry, I will miss him, his support and his counsel. Sam Haines of Gear Motions was elected President of the Institute by the Board. Jack Masseth of Arvin Meritor was elected Secretary and Al Swiglo of Northern Illinois University continues as its Treasurer. Charlie Fischer, Vice-President of the AGMA’s Technical Division was nominated by the AGMA to the Institute’s Board as a replacement for Gary Kimmet.
Many of you may remember that 2004 was the last time we conducted a workshop on long range planning for the gear industry. “Vision of the Gear Industry in 2025”, as this gathering was titled, I believe needs to be revisited, especially in light of the momentous happenings of the last year. I will be contacting several of you in the next few months to explore this item.
The introduction of High Hot Hardness steels for gears, in the last two decades, was in response to DoD requirements for continued gear box operation in a “loss of lubricant” condition. The availability of these materials also offers an opportunity to operate the gear box at a higher temperature with a subsequent reduction in the volume and weight of cooling oil and the capacity and weight of onboard heat dissipation systems. For an aircraft, fixed or rotary-wing, this would result in a commensurate increase in its payload. However, to exploit this opportunity requires the knowledge of gear related fatigue properties of these materials at higher temperatures. In order to address this need the Aerospace Bloc (Avio, Boeing, Curtiss Wright, Honeywell, Latrobe Steel, Pratt & Whitney, REM Chemicals, Rolls Royce and Timken) of the Gear Research Institute launched a project to characterize the gear related fatigue properties of AMS 6308 at elevated temperatures.
In order to successfully conduct this effort it is necessary to first establish that the temperature at the portions of the gear teeth, that are relevant to the modes of gear tooth failure, can be controlled in a fatigue test. Portions of the gear tooth relevant to the traditional gear failure modes are illustrated in figure 1.
Figure 1. Relevant Temperature distribution on a gear tooth
The ability to control the temperature in these regions was successfully demonstrated in an experimental effort and is the subject of a paper that has been submitted for publication. With this in hand a full fledged effort to characterize the contact fatigue and bending fatigue characteristics of AMS 6308 is currently underway.
Education and Training
The Gear Research Institute continues to provide student support for the school year 2008-2009, which was approved by the Board last year. We are looking forward to supporting a student intern or two, this summer.Funding student support from project funding is always a challenge, unless student support can be built into the budget which is not always possible. This is because project information is proprietary (students need to publish) and projects are usually implemented in a time frame that is not coincident with the students needs. One suggestion at a recent Board meeting was to utilize Institute membership fees for this purpose. At $500 per corporate member, the Institute needs to recruit many members to support even a student. This is a line of thinking that needs to be explored.
The Gear Research Institute was awarded a grant by the AGMA Foundation. This grant will fund Dr. William Mark, an Emeritus faculty at Penn State, to document and publish a manuscript detailing his methods for predicting gear vibration and noise.
We are still in the process of developing a relationship with the AGMA to better serve the AGMA membership. The nomination of Charlie Fischer, Vice-President of AGMA’s Technical Division, to the Board of Trustees of the Institute, should be invaluable in fostering this relationship. There will be more to say on this topic as plans are developed.
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.