Understanding micropitting in gears

Article English OPEN
Clarke, Alastair ; Evans, Henry Peredur ; Snidle, Raymond (2015)

Micropitting is a serious form of erosive wear, which can occur on the teeth of transmission gears. It is associated with roughness effects and surface fatigue and has become a particular problem in the speed-increasing gearboxes of wind turbines. This paper reviews the contributions which the authors have made towards an understanding of the basic mechanism of micropitting in gears based on analysis of the contact mechanics and elastohydrodynamic lubrication (EHL) of gear tooth surfaces under realistic operating conditions. Results are presented which demonstrate the crucial influence of EHL film thickness in relation to roughness (the ‘Λ ratio’) on predicted contact and near-surface fatigue. The important effect of plastic deformation, which takes place during the initial stage of running-in of gears, has also been investigated, and it has been shown that significant residual effects occur, which can contribute to the early formation of surface-initiated cracks.