igus extends the functionality of the gear configurator for the 3D printing service. For this type of part igus has developed a lubrication-free, high-performance plastic specifically developed for gears that ensures a long service life during operation.
by Elena Magistretti
Plastic double gears are always used whenever force, torque or speed in gears need to be changed over more than one stage. Quiet and durable, they perform this task only if the geometry of the teeth is optimal – here the so-called involute toothing has proved itself. This kind of gearing is geometrically complex and time-consuming to manufacture without tools. Even slight inaccuracies increase the wear and the noise. The gear online configurator from igus allows double gears to be designed automatically in a few seconds and then ordered directly.
The perfect 3D model in double-quick time
The online configurator allows the design of a simple gear or a double gear. The designer only needs to select the appropriate gear module and set the number of teeth and the transmission of torque – such as one flattened hole, a square bore or hole with keyway. The configurator automatically uses this data to create the 3D model of the double gear with optimally modelled involute gear teeth, guaranteeing a quiet and long-lasting operation. Completely without complex and error-prone manual work or an external CAD programme. The next step: the 3D model goes into 3D printing.
The 3D-printed gear is ready in a few hours
Just as time-saving as the online configuration of the gear is the 3D printing of the special part. Within three to five days, the customer will already receive his gear from igus, thanks to a laser sintering printer. The 3D printer of the motion plastics specialist manufactures up to 3,000 gears per day by fusing the iglidur I6 SLS powder material specifically developed for gears with a laser. The machining of special gears often takes several weeks. The production of small gears is also more cost-effective in 3D printing. Gears with a diameter of 12 millimetres and a depth of 16 millimetres cost € 1.70 per unit (for 100 units) at igus. A milled pendant costs € 2.80. Further savings arise in operation. Because, the gears from the 3D printer are robust and wear-resistant – thanks to the lubrication-free and maintenance-free material iglidur I6 specifically developed for gears. A test in the in-house igus laboratory has proven that a gear made of iglidur I6 has no measurable wear after a million cycles at 5N/m torque and 12 rpm. Unlike a milled gear made of the thermoplastic polyoxymethylene (POM). It is already severely worn-out after 321,000 cycles, so it has a roughly three times shorter service life.