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The 1st Joint International Conference on Multibody System Dynamics May 25-27, 2010, Lappeenranta, Finland

Analysis of a New System for Testing Gears under Variable Torque and Speed using Multibody Dynamics
Ioannis Nerantzis*, Dimitrios Perperidis*, Stephanos Theodossiades#, Athanassios Mihailidis* * Laboratory of Machine Elements and Machine Design, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 52124 Thessaloniki, Greece email: Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Loughborough University Loughborough, UK email:

ABSTRACT The design of modern gear boxes is governed by strict requirements. Efficiency, durability, size, operation noise levels and cost are just a few to mention. In many applications involving gearboxes, the transmitted power fluctuates strongly. Wind engine turbines and automotive applications are examples, where the torque and speed vary according to the wind characteristics and driving conditions, respectively. The fluctuation of the occurring dynamic loads significantly affects the durability of the transmission gears. Therefore, it is important to design test rigs that enable to apply dynamic loads of similar nature to the ones met in the aforementioned applications, in order to assess the behaviour of their mating gear pairs. A new torque imposing system design has been proposed for testing the durability of gear pairs. The main part of this system is a Wolfrom planetary gear train, consisting of a sun gear, two sets of planetary gears attached to the same planet carrier and two ring gears. The current study presents a multibody dynamics model of the planetary system that has been developed using the commercial software ADAMS, in order to examine the effects that are introduced in the rig behaviour. Particular attention was given to the normal force distribution between the mating teeth pairs. A parametric study is included, demonstrating the effect of important system parameters. The introduction of fluctuations on the load transferred has been also reported. Keywords: closed loop gear test rigs, Wolfrom planetary gear train, gear teeth mesh stiffness, ADAMS, ABAQUS.


This paper presents a dynamic simulation of a Wolfrom planetary system that is used in closed loop gear test rigs. The dynamic behaviour of the rig is an essential factor that has to be taken into account during the conduction of gear failure experiments. Oscillations that appear because of the gear pair engagements are highly dependent on the dynamic characteristics of the rig components, such as stiffness and damping. Due to its extremely high transmission ratio and the ability to self lock, this system has many industrial automotive and aeronautical applications. The Wolfrom planetary system consists of an internal sun gear, two sets of planet gears mounted on a carrier and two ring gears. A schematic view of the mechanism is shown in figure 1. An extensive kinematic analysis, power flow and efficiency calculation of the Wolfrom planetary system is presented by Loomann in [1].

Figure 1. Wolfrom planetary gear train. Many closed loop test rigs have been modified to achieve variation of loading torque during testing. Lanahan [2], Klinger [3], Langenbeck [4] and Basedow [5] have used various types of planetary gear trains in order to achieve the loading torque variation. The loading system investigated here is shown in figure 2 and described in detail in [6]. In order to load the two test gear boxes, the two ring gears of the Wolfrom system have been twisted in opposite directions, driven by a stepper motor connected to the sun gear. During testing the desired loading torque is set and the planetary system is locked.

Figure 2. Gear test rig layout integrated with the torque imposing system. The dynamic behavior of the Wolfrom mechanism is investigated in the present paper with the aid of the MSC Adams commercial software. The teeth stiffness variation of the various gear pairs has been determined using 2D FEM models developed in ANSA [7] and solved using the ABAQUS solver.

2 2.1

METHODOLOGY Determination of the gear teeth meshing stiffness

The teeth meshing stiffness of a gear pair varies as gear wheels rotate. This is because of the variation of gear teeth contact geometry, as well as the occurrence of single and multiple teeth pair contacts. The stiffness determination in relation to the rotation of spur gear pairs can be achieved using 2D FEM models [8, 9]. In the current analysis, the models consist of two rings with the appropriate number of teeth, fixed in the x and y directions with respect to the gear wheel centre (since it is assumed that all deflection during contact is taken by the gear perimeter and corresponding teeth). The first ring is fixed whereas the second is free to rotate around the z axis and a moment is applied at its centre, as shown in figure 3. A contact interaction for each of the mating teeth flanks is defined in ABAQUS. A rigid element web connects the ring that supports the teeth with the centre of each gear. The mesh is rather coarse throughout the model except for the regions near the contacting surfaces, where the element size is 5.5 m (sufficient enough to cover the contact zones). The

detail of figure 3 shows the area near the contacting teeth surfaces, where the mesh is extremely fine. The meshing of the models was done using ANSA software. The FEA solver returns the rotation of the centre of the second ring, where the moment was applied. Then, this rotational displacement and moment are transformed to linear deflection and force along the line of action. Since this line is tangential to the base circles of the two gear wheels, the rotational displacement is multiplied by the base radius of the second gear in order to be translated to linear deflection in the direction of the line of action. The moment is transformed to force if divided by the base radius of the second gear. Finally the overall teeth mesh stiffness is calculated by dividing the force by the linear deflection and gear width. The stiffness coefficient needs to be determined for several points along the mesh cycle, in order to obtain a good resolution of its variation.

Figure 3. Two dimensional FEM model of the sun and planet gear pair meshing. As an example, figure 4 shows the calculated stress fields of the meshing teeth of the sun and a planet gear. Figure 5 shows the teeth stiffness variation for a complete mesh cycle. Similar teeth meshing stiffness curves have been obtained for all mating gear pairs (sun-planet, planet ring 1 and planet ring 2). In order to verify the proposed methodology, the obtained results were compared to ISO 6336-1 [10]. Table 1 shows the geometric parameters of the sun and planet gears. The single teeth pair meshing stiffness according to ISO is shown in table 2 (13.472 N/mm/ m). This value confirms reasonably well to that obtained by the FEM model, as shown in table 3 (14.174 N/mm/ m). Furthermore, the mean value of the teeth mesh stiffness per unit facewidth is found to be 17.009 N/mm/ m according to ISO, which compares very well to that of 17.382 N/mm/ m obtained by the FEM model (figure 5).

Figure 4. Results of the FEM model for single teeth pair contact between the sun and planet.

Figure 5. Stiffness coefficient variation per mesh cycle for the sun and planet gear pair.
Gear pair geometry z [-] m_n[mm] alpha [Deg] d [mm] 11 48 1,250 20,000 13,750 60,000 d_b [mm] a [mm] x [mm] _ [mm] 12,921 56,382 37,500 0,5000 0,0303 1,350

Table 1. Geometric data of the sun and planet gear pair.

ISO 6336 1 F_n [N] b [mm] K_A [-] F_t * K_A / b [N/mm] 1773,630 20,000 1,500 125,000 c'_th [N/mm/m] c' [N/mm/m] c_ [N/mm/m] 16,840 13,472 17,009

Table 2. Calculation of the stiffness coefficients according to ISO 6336 Part 1 standard.
FEM model F_n [N] x [mm] K [N/mm] b [mm] c [N/mm/m] 1773,630 6,17E-03 2,88E+05 20,000 14,384

Table 3. Calculation of the stiffness coefficient with the aid of a 2D FEM model. 2.2 Multibody dynamics model

The multibody model of the Wolfrom planetary gear train was developed in ADAMS environment. The following assumptions were applied: The model considers only the rotational degrees of freedom of the gear train parts All pats are considered to be rigid.

Frictional forces arising from sliding motions between the teeth and in the supporting bearings are not included in this study. Gear tooth spacing errors and misalignment effects have not been considered.

Figure 6 shows the complete Wolfrom planetary gear train model in multibody dynamics environment. The parts included, as well as their mass and inertia properties are provided in Table 4. Tables 5 and 6 provide the constraints and restraints of the model, respectively.

y x z

Figure 6. The Wolfrom gear train multibody model in ADAMS environment.

Part number 1 2 3, 4, 5 6, 7, 8 9 10 11 Part name/description Stepper motor Sun Planet i (i=0,1,2) Pin i (i=0,1,2) Carrier Ring 1 Ring 2 Mass (kg) 0.0151 0.17 0.612934 0.289328 2.657181 2.0948 2.087341 Moments of inertia (kg mm2) Ixx Iyy Izz 1.1688 1.153231 0.1635 130.352 130.0144 11.7394 397.571 343.1232 342.816 125.3 125.2773 25 6751.675 5298 5296.981 7883.892 4341.6989 4339.9 8061.559 4438.1855 4432.245

Table 4. Mass and inertia properties of the Wolfrom planetary gear train parts. The parts of the mechanism are interacting in the following contact zones (as shown in figure 7): (a) between the sun and the planets and (b) between the planets and the rings. The subscripts S, P, R and C indicate the sun, the planets, the rings and the carrier, respectively. The gear teeth contact forces (sun-planets and planetsrings) have been included in the model as piecewise linear functions, in order to demonstrate the effect of backlash [11, 12]. Damping 2% has been included in the contact zones, in a similar manner as in [13]. The generalised form of the piecewise gear teeth contact force is given below:

& W = k ( ) f ( X ) + c f (X ),

where X >b X b, f ( X ) = 0, b X b X + b, X < b

k() is the gear teeth stiffness as it has been calculated with the aid of the FEM models. This is a function of the pinion angle c is the damping coefficient X is the relative displacement between the contacting teeth:

X = R p p R g g , where the subscripts p and

g indicate pinion and gear, respectively. R and indicate the base radii and angle of rotation, respectively. 2b is the total normal backlash between the contacting teeth

Figure 7. Reaction components in the planetary gear train system.

Number 1 2 3, 4, 5 6, 7, 8 9 10 11 Part I Stepper motor Sun Planet i (i=0,1,2) Pin i (i=0,1,2) Carrier Ring 1 Ring 2 Part J Sun Ground Pin i (i=0,1,2) Carrier Ground Ground Ground Constraint type Fixed Revolute Revolute Fixed Revolute Revolute Revolute Number of constraints 6 5 5 6 5 5 5

Table 5. Constraints between connecting parts in the multibody model The number of Degrees of Freedom of the multi-body model is obtained using the Gruebler-Kutzbach expression: Number of DOF = 6*(number of rigid parts 1) - (constraints) = 6* (12 - 1) - 59 Hence, the planetary gear train model has 7 degrees of freedom.
Number 1 2 3 Parts/areas of application Su n Planet i (i=0,1,2) Planet i (i=0,1,2) Ring 1 Planet i (i=0,1,2) Ring 2 Characteristics Gear backlash (20 m) Gear backlash (2 m) Gear backlash (2 m)

Table 6. Restraints and compliances in the multibody model


The main aim of this work is to develop a validated model, capable to capture the systems dynamics. Therefore, a first comparison of the models results is established versus predictions of known kinematic relationships that describe the motions of the Wolfrom planetary gear train pats. The kinematic analysis requires two known angular motions of the planetary system parts as input. This is shown in table 7, where it can be seen that the models predictions are almost identical to those of the planetary system kinematics.
Part Rotational speed (kinematic analysis) (deg/s) Rotational speed (ADAMS model) (deg/s) Sun 100 100 Planet i (i=0,1,2) -22.81424 -22.81424 Carrier 0.0833333 0.08330822 Ring 1 -10 -10 Ring 2 -10.28538 -10.28477

Table 7. Predictions of the kinematic analysis versus the dynamic model The next set of results (table 8) demonstrates the effect of damping and backlash in the systems behaviour. Again, the models predictions are compared against results of the kinematic analysis. It can be seen that damping has negligible effect in the systems behaviour. On the other hand, when backlash is zero, the systems dynamics exhibit some minor differences compared to the kinematic analysis. It is worthy mentioning that in the real mechanism the backlash between the interacting gear pairs is generally very low. However, during systems life (and also during operation) some lash is gradually developed primarily between the sun and the planets and secondarily between the planets and the two rings.
Part Rotational speed (kinematic analysis) (deg/s) Rotational speed (ADAMS model, =0) (deg/s) Rotational speed (ADAMS model, =0.02) (deg/s) Rotational speed (ADAMS model, =0.02, b=0) (deg/s) Sun 100 100 100 100.013 Planet i (i=0,1,2) -22.81424 -22.81424 -22.81424 -22.8166 Carrier 0.0833333 0.0833 0.0833 0.0838 Ring 1 -10 -10 -10 -10 Ring 2 -10.2853 -10.2847 -10.2853 -10.2854

Table 8. Effect of damping and normal backlash in the gear train system Another important feature of the real system is to be capable to introduce small torque perturbations in the examined gear pairs with a view to replicate conditions met in torque transfer mechanisms, where dynamic loads are usually present (for example, in wind turbine applications). It is important to examine how these perturbations affect the systems dynamics. Figure 8 shows the effect of such a perturbation in a known kinematic solution of the system. It can be seen that the system quickly deviates from the initial steady state motion to a neighbouring solution, affecting the overall kinematics of the connecting parts and, thus, the conditions studied. Finally, an interesting feature of the multibody model is shown in the results of table 9. A known kinematic solution corresponding to fixed ring 1 (middle row of table 9) is compared against the models predictions (last row of the same table), where the kinematic solution has been used as initial condition. It can be seen that the model responds with a neighbouring steady state response of a non-stationary ring 1. However, when the latter is fed as input condition to the kinematics of the system (first row of table 9), it leads to a different solution compared to the dynamic model. Local instabilities can be a possible reason for this behaviour, which will be the subject of further investigations.


A multibody model of a Wolfrom planetary gear train system used in examining the strength of gear pairs has been developed in ADAMS environment. The dynamic model has been validated against results of kinematic analysis of the mechanism. Minor differences have been observed due to damping and backlash effects. Small torque perturbations have been introduced in the system, leading to different steady state response motions. The appearance of unstable behaviour during certain operating conditions of the mechanism should be investigated further.



S (deg/s) R2 (deg/s)




90 0 0.2


t (s)



t (s)



R2 (deg/s)


95 0 0.2

t (s)


Figure 8. Time histories of the (a) Sun, (b) Ring 1 and (c) Ring 2, following the activation of the stepper motor.
Part Rotational speed (kinematic analysis) (deg/s) Rotational speed (kinematic analysis) (deg/s) Rotational speed (ADAMS model, =0.02) (deg/s) Sun 100 100 100 Planet i (i=0,1,2) -11.85449 -11.64931 -11.64931 Carrier 8.999839 9.166667 9.135274 Ring 1 -0.183773 0 -0.183773 Ring 2 -0.443684 -0.259434 -0.185397

Table 9. Case study corresponding to zero initial velocity of Ring 1

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[7] ANSA Users Guide, Version 12.1.4 (BETA CAE Systems S.A., Thessaloniki, Greece) [8] ARAFA, M. H. AND MEGAHED, M. M.: Evaluation of spur gear mesh compliance using the finite element method, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers 213 Part C (1999) 569-579. [9] PRIMSARN, M. AND KAZEROUNIAN, K.: Efficient evaluation of spur gear tooth mesh load using pseudo-interference stiffness estimation method. Mechanism and Machine Theory 37 (2002) 769-786. [10] ISO 6336. Calculation of load capacity of spur and helical gears, 1996 (International Standardization Organization, Geneva). [11] KAHRAMAN, A. AND SINGH, R. Interactions between Time-Varying Mesh Stiffness and Clearance Non-Linearities in a Geared System, Journal of Sound and Vibration (1991) 146(1), pp 135-156. [12] THEODOSSIADES, S. AND NATSIAVAS, S. Non-Linear Dynamics of Gear-Pair Systems with Periodic Stiffness and Backlash, Journal of Sound and Vibration (2000), 229(2), pp. 287-310. [13] SUN, T. AND HU, H. Y. Nonlinear dynamics of a planetary gear system with multiple clearances. Mechanism and Machine Theory 38 (2003) 1371-1390.