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Creating Gears and Splines in Wildfire 2.0
By Dan Marsalek, Marine Mechanical Corporation
Although many published methods exist for developing profiles of gear and spline teeth, the techniques are sometimes confusing and often inaccurate because they use only an approximation of the involute curve profile. The methods in this article clarify, expound, and improve on the current involute curve formulae commonly used. The methodology is based on Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 2.0, but can also be easily adapted for use with WF1.0 and Pro/ENGINEER 2001. The equations for creating the involute datum curve are the same, although the extrusion and patterning of the final geometry are slightly different. The Pro/ENGINEER user wishing to design a gear or spline tooth should start with the basics: the involute curve. An involute is described as the path of a point on a straight line, called the generatrix, as it rolls along a convex base curve (the evolute). The involute curve is most often used as the basis for the profile of a spline or gear tooth. Here’s how to visualize the involute curve:

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Imagine a cylinder and a piece of string. Wrap the string tightly around the cylinder. Pull the string tight while unwinding it from the cylinder. Trace the end of the string as it is unwrapped. The result is an involute curve.

You should also acquaint yourselves with the standard features and terminology of gears and splines. The ANSI standards for gears (B6.1, B6.7) and splines (B92.1) are a good

file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%...20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.0.htm (1 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM

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place to start, as is Machinery’s Handbook (1992, pp. 1787–2065). The AGMA standards are another source of good information for terms, symbols, equations, and definitions. The following figure (taken from ANSI B92.1) illustrates a spline with standard dimensions and definitions.

Why should an involute profile be used in the design of a gear or spline tooth? Why not a straight edge? Some of the more important reasons:
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Conjugate action is independent of changes in center distance. Basically, if a driver gear with an involute tooth profile rotates at a uniform rate while acting on another gear with an involute tooth profile, the angular motion of the driven gear will be uniform. This is true even if the center-to-center distance is varied. The form of the basic rack tooth is straight-sided and therefore relatively simple. Thus, it can be accurately made. As a cutting tool, the rack tooth imparts high accuracy to the cut gear or spline tooth. One cutter can generate all gear or spline tooth numbers of the same pitch. The relative rate of motion between driven and driving gears having involute tooth curves is established by the diameters of their base circles. Contact between intermeshing involute teeth on a driving and driven gear is along a straight line that is tangent to the two base circles of these gears. This is called the “line of action.”

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While several techniques can be used to create the involute tooth profile in Pro/ ENGINEER, this article focuses on using datum curves by equation. The benefits of this method are that the involute curve profile is based on the exact geometric equations, it is
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and Z only. The trick is to know when to use Cartesian or cylindrical coordinates in creating the datum curve by equation. AAX. and it requires no additional Pro/ENGINEER modules (like ASX.. Define the involute tooth profile with the datum curve by equation.0. Additionally.. 3.). etc. Start angle (i. Create basic geometry in support of the spline or gear tooth. Base diameter b. In addition.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.ProfilesMagazine. the angle from the horizontal axis in sketcher where the involute starts) f. without the need for any additional operations (to trim the curve to size). Why are there so many equations in this article? It’s great to know the final answer to a problem. Pattern the tooth around the centerline axis. Pitch diameter c. Set up parameters for key variables: a. the curves generated by the methodology presented herein are automatically truncated at the major diameter. Simply put. but if you don’t know how you got to the solution. Finally. q q Use the cylindrical coordinate method if you want the easiest and most versatile method of involute creation. 2. file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%. the datum curve by equation technique allows you to use either Cartesian or cylindrical coordinate systems to create the involute curve profile.com highly flexible in terms of the types of gears and curves that can be created.e. The figure below presents a basic idea of what is involved in determining the equations for the involute datum curve. Number of teeth d.. General Procedures for Involute Curve Creation 1. Design vs. May need additional helical datum curves to sweep a helical gear teeth 5.htm (3 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . Deriving the Involute Datum Curve Equations — Cartesian Coordinates The first step is to define terms and set up a sketch with the variables. the derivations of the equations validate the formulae that will be used in the relations editor to create the involute profile. BMX. Major (outer) tooth diameter e. then you won’t be able to properly apply it. Create the tooth solid feature with a cut or protrusion. Circular tooth thickness or circular space width. Y. or if you have to use polar coordinates. Manufacturing intent b. using the cylindrical coordinate system will be easier and quicker in most cases. Use Cartesian coordinates if you have to have the equations in terms of X. a. 4.

20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.htm (4 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM ../2 Ro = Major dia./2 Sα = arc length SR = tangent line length at any point X.com Ri = Base dia.Y on the involute SRo = tangent line length at major diameter on involute β = angle from start of involute to tangent point on base circle Xc.Yc = tangent point on base circle corresponding to tangent line SR Start_angle = angle from the horizontal axis to the start of the involute curve For simplicity. From basic trigonometry: file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%. we will assume a start angle of 0° and remove it from the formulae.ProfilesMagazine..0.

0. above. the equation for XR and YR can be derived: From the Pythagorean Theorem: Substitute and simplify the equations to get XR and YR in terms of Ri and β. and plug them into the equation for RO: file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202...com From the geometry.ProfilesMagazine.htm (5 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . Start by substituting for Xc and SR in the original equation for XR: Substitute for Yc and SR in the original equation for YR: Take the equations for XR and YR.

20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202...ProfilesMagazine. and combine like terms (which add to 0).com Expand the squared terms: Consolidate terms that have Ri2. The equation for Ro becomes: file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.htm (6 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . and Ri2 * β: Remember a basic trigonometric identity formula: Substitute for the identity.0.

.com Combining terms that have Ri2: Squaring Ro gives us: Squaring the square root term: Rearranging the equation to isolate β: file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.htm (7 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM ..20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.0.ProfilesMagazine.

so that we can solve the parametric equation for the creation of the datum curve. α. in terms of Ri and Ro. so we multiply by “t” in the equation (t varies linearly from 0 to 1): Substituting for β: But since we want radians.com We need to define a term.. we multiply by 2* π /360: file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.htm (8 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM .20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.ProfilesMagazine.. We also need to evaluate β over its full range (from Ri to Ro) to derive the involute curve.0.

We will use XR and YR as the basis.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.ProfilesMagazine. substituting α for β (and multiplying the α terms by 360/2*π because we need degrees here): Deriving the parametric equation for X: Deriving the parametric equation for Y: Finally.com We need the parametric equations for X and Y (and Z) in terms of Ri and α..htm (9 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . Z = 0 (since we wish to create a 2-D planar curve) file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.0..

. or set it to 1 before the involute curve equations in the relation equation editor. Since we don’t know α yet.0. If we include a start angle of some value other than 0°. the relation equations used in creating the involute profile datum curve will be: solve for α Z=0 Remember that all variables (α. Ri) must be predefined.com So. just preset it to a value of 1 using parameters.ProfilesMagazine.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.. the equations become: solve for α file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.htm (10 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . Ro.

20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202../2 R = Radius to any point on the involute curve Sα = arc length from start of the involute to the tangent point SR = tangent line length at any point X.com Z=0 Deriving the Involute Datum Curve Equations — Cylindrical Coordinates Ri = Base dia.htm (11 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM ./2 Ro = Major dia.ProfilesMagazine.0.. file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.Y on the involute SRo = tangent line length at major diameter on involute β = angle from start of involute to tangent point on base circle θ = angle from start of involute to any point on the involute between Ro and Ri α = angle from a point on the involute to the tangent point on base circle Start_angle = angle from the horizontal axis to the beginning of the involute curve The geometry associated with the involute curve in a cylindrical coordinate system is shown below.

0. we are setting the start angle to 0° for simplicity. The following equations are based on the geometry of the involute setup: The relationship between SR and SRo varies linearly.. then: file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.com Again. so if we denote a variable t that goes from 0 to 1 as R goes from 0 to Ro.htm (12 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM .ProfilesMagazine..20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.

20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.com It is important to note that SR = SRo when R = Ro (because t=1). By the Pythagorean Theorem: By observation and the Pythagorean Theorem: Substituting (SRo * t) for SR into the equation defining R: We need to find β in terms of Ri and Ro..0.. Start with the equation for SR found previously: Isolate the β term and substitute (SRo * t) for SR: file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.htm (13 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM .ProfilesMagazine.

ProfilesMagazine. so we create a variable γ.htm (14 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM ...com Solving the equations to get α: Substitute (SRo * t) for SR: Substituting for β and α in the equation for θ: As in the case for the equations for Cartesian involute curves. we still want the curve to be 2-D and planar. so: Z=0 We need to make the equations parametric based on Ro and Ri and t (which varies linearly from 0 to 1). but based on SR instead of β: file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.0. similar to the α term in the Cartesian Coordinate equations.

.ProfilesMagazine.0..htm (15 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM .20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202. the relation equations used in the creation of the involute profile datum curve will be: file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.com Substituting for SRo: Substituting γ for SRo into the equations for R gives us: A similar substitution for SRo in the equation for θ: So.

0. and Ri before solving the relations. Create the part parameters (major_dia.com Solve for γ Z=0 Note: to account for a start angle ≠ 0. tooth_thick (or space_width). base_dia. gamma). Using the Cylindrical Coordinate System to Create an Involute Curve 1. start_angle.. remember to predefine γ.ProfilesMagazine. file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%. use: As with the Cartesian coordinate method.htm (16 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . pitch_dia. minor_dia.. Ro.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202. no_of_teeth.

0.com (Click to enlarge) 2... file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202. Create the base cylinder geometry.htm (17 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . Use the major_dia parameter as the OD of the cylinder.ProfilesMagazine.

ProfilesMagazine..20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.com (Click to enlarge) file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%..0.htm (18 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM .

com (Click to enlarge) 3. By Equation. It should be located on the centerline axis at one end of the cylinder you have created.. (It helps if the coordinate system has the Z direction along the centerline axis. Make sure you have a coordinate system already established..) Create the involute datum curve by using Datum Curve. Choose a cylindrical coordinate system.0.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.ProfilesMagazine. file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.htm (19 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM .

.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.htm (20 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM .ProfilesMagazine..com file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.0.

Make the top and bottom sides of the cut using an arc and selecting the end points to be symmetric about the centerline.ProfilesMagazine..0.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202. Create a datum curve (by sketch) that represents the entire cut for the tooth profile. To Perimeter from the Edit dropdown menu. (Click to enlarge) 5.htm (21 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . OK the section. and then mirror the involute curve to make the two sides of the cut. Dimension the arc as a perimeter by selecting the angular dimension and choosing Convert. file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%. Set the two curves apart by using a construction arc at the pitch diameter to represent the circular space width. Then extrude a cut axially along the cylinder based on the profile of the datum curve in Step 4.. Create a centerline.com (Click to enlarge) 4.

.com (Click to enlarge) 6. Voila! Your gear/spline is now ready for use! file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%..0.htm (22 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM .20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202. Pattern the cut axially around the cylinder.ProfilesMagazine.

ProfilesMagazine.. Ohio.1-1996.com/books/pdf/gears.. ANSI Standard B92. 1989. Dan Marsalek is a design engineer with Marine Mechanical Corp. www. 5.pdf. The Society of Automotive Engineers. www. Shigley and Mishke. 527-584 Roy Beardmore. 6.0.roymech. Mechanical Engineering Design. 2004. 2. specializing in 3-D modeling and nonlinear FEA of complex mechanisms for naval vessels. 5th ed. Machinery’s Handbook. pp. Suggested Techniques for: q q q Creation of an Involute Gear Cutting (3 Methods) Creating a Cylindrical Gear with Helical Teeth Creating an Involute Curve 4.cadquest.. This article is based in part on his file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.htm (23 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . pp. in Cleveland. PTC Knowledgebase. Involute Gear Design Tutorial. 3..com (Click to enlarge) For Further Reference 1.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202. 1992. 24th ed.uk/Useful_Tables/Drive/Gears.co.html. 1787-2065. 1996. Dan is currently vice president of the Ohio Pro/E User Group (NOPUG).

.20Gears%20and%20Splines%20in%20Wildfire%202.0.htm (24 of 24)8/20/2007 12:28:19 PM . file:///G|/~%20Pro%20Engineer%20Stuff/~%20Pro%20%.ProfilesMagazine.com presentation at the 2005 PTC/USER World Event..