How Are Worm Gears Utilized Across Various Industries

Prior to proceeding with the different applications of a worm gearbox, let us look at what a worm gear is.

What is a worm gear?

Worm Gears

In simple terms, a worm gear resembles a worm, as its name suggests. A worm gear is a specific gear composition in which a screw (resembling a worm) meshes with a wheel akin to a spur gear. Let us take a look at the diagram below to understand it in a glance.

With this setup, the user can determine the speed of rotation, and also make way for transmission of higher torque. To simply understand the function of worm gearbox, the tuning mechanism of an acoustic guitar is a perfect example. This mechanism is utilized in different devices both at home and in factories (in heavy machinery).

Let us now look at the types of worm gear:

  1. Non-throated- In this design, a straight worm is machined around the circumference without a groove. The tooth contact is facilitated by a single moving point. It is subjected to high load wear and tear.
  2. Single-Throated- In this type of worm gear, concave helical teeth are wrapped around the worm for line of contact.
  3. Double-Throated – This design of worm gear has concave teeth on the worm screw as well as the gear. This increases the contact area and brings down the wear and tear.

Worm Gearbox

Different Areas Where Worm Gearboxes Are Utilized

Tuning Instruments:

To make the tuning mechanism work, a number of musical instruments with strings are made using a worm gear. Such instruments include guitars, basses, and banjos. It is with the gears force reduction along with its locking capability that enables musicians to keep the required string tightness in place. This type of worm gear is exceptional as it allows the user to tune both in the upward and downward direction whereas most of the worm gears can be tuned only in a single direction.

Lifts and elevators: The most popular use of worm gears is in the machinery used to construct elevators and lifts. Their compact size and non-reversible properties make its use very common in lifts. This type of gear functions as a secondary braking system because gear cannot transmit motion back through the hoist. This ensures that the load cannot fall freely as the speed is perfectly regulated with ease.

Torsen Differentials:

A number of off-road vehicles and huge trucks deliver varied amounts of torque to each wheel depending on the action being performed by the vehicle. For instance, wheels need to rotate at varied speeds while turning a corner as the inside wheels cover a shorter distance. It is the vehicle’s Torsen differential that handles this movement with the help of fusion of worms and worm gears that segregate individual wheel’s performance.

Conveyor Belts and Gates:

Some of the worm drives cannot be turned in two directions but only in a single direction. This implies that security gates lock-up whenever they are not used and will not function in the backward direction. The same can be said about conveyor belts. Automated security gates will involve the use of two worm drives so that they can open as well as close. This implies that the gate can be locked in both the directions and cannot be forced open.

Simply put, worm gears are utilized for low-noise and/or fast-stopping applications. They can be effectively used in confined spaces or in small pieces of equipment. Next time, when you are going in a lift or enjoying music at that famous rock concert, remember these worm gears are somewhere working in the background.

If you are interested to gain more information about the functioning of worm gears, then do reach us out at sarang@santramengineers.com.


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