Plastic Gear Wheel Expected to Reduce Vehicle Weight
The Center for Advanced Die Engineering and Technology at Gifu University and Central Fine Tool Co Ltd co-developed a plastic gear wheel reinforced with carbon fiber fabric.
They expect to commercialize the gear wheel and replace metal gear wheels used for automobiles, etc with it to reduce vehicle weight and production cost and increase product life.
In general, because of the contact pressure applied to a tooth surface, a tensile stress is applied to the bottom of the tooth. Therefore, the university and the company added carbon fibers to a gear wheel to reduce the tensile stress and extend product life.
Carbon-fiber reinforced plastics (CFRPs), which are used for airplanes, etc, feature a light weight and high strength. But they are difficult to be processed and not suited for volume production of machine parts. However, with the method employed for the newly-developed gear wheel, it becomes possible to use CFRPs for parts to be mass-produced such as auto parts.
The university applied for patents for (1) the carbon fiber fabric, (2) mold to form a resin part as a single piece and (3) gear wheel. They have already completed the gear wheel as a sample but are still examining the manufacturing cost and strength of the product, aiming to commercialize it by March 2017.
The university exhibited the new gear wheel at Intermold 2015, which runs from April 15 to 18, 2015, in Tokyo.