How Gears Work


Photo courtesy
Emerson Power Transmission Corp.
Gears are found in everything from cars to clocks.

­Gears are used in tons of mechanical devices. They do several important jobs, but most important, they provide a gear reduction in motorized equipment. This is key because, often, a small motor spinning very fast can provide enough power for a device, but not enough torque. For instance, an electric screwdriver has a very large gear reduction because it needs lots of torque to turn screws, bu­t the motor only produces a small amount of torque at a high speed. With a gear reduction, the output speed can be reduced while the torque is increased.

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­Another thing gears do is adjust the direction of rotation. For instance, in the differential between the rear wheels of your car, the power is transmitted by a shaft that runs down the center of the car, and the differential has to turn that power 90 degrees to apply it to the wheels.

There are a lot of intricacies in the different types of gears. In this article, we'll learn exactly how the teeth on gears work, and we'll talk about the different type­s of gears you find in all sorts of mechanical gadgets.­