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Patented wear control avoids planetary gearbox adjustments

23 September, 2019

A German gear-maker has announced a planetary gearbox with an patented automatic wear control system that prevents the usual increase in torsional backlash caused by wear, thus avoiding the need to adjust or replace the gearboxes when their backlash exceeds tolerance limits. Hamelin-based Melior Motion claims that with this technology, its PSC gearboxes “virtually” ensure a backlash of less than 0.1 arc-min over their entire service lives.

Although the Melior name may be new, it is a spinout from Stephan-Werke, which started life as a motor manufacturer in 1908, and expanded into the manufacture of gears and geared motors in the 1920s. In 2012, Stephan embarked on a €4m investment programme to develop a new range of planetary gears, which it launched in 2015 but only sold directly to a select group of robot manufacturers. In 2017, Melior Motion was “released” from Stephan with the aim of marketing a standard range of the gearboxes aimed at applications such as positioning, packaging and machine tools, as well as robotics.

The PSC gearboxes span a torque range of 500Nm–7kNm, and operate with efficiencies above 90%. Their integrated bearings result in a high tilting ability, making them ideal for applications such as robot axes and turntables. The wear adjustment system means that the almost complete lack of backlash is achieved with low preloads. The gearboxes are also have low breakaway torques, improving their control behaviour and reducing peak loads.

Melior Motion’s planetary gearboxes exhibit an almost complete lack of backlash throughout their lives

At the end of 2018, Melior Motion opened a €7m facility that will allow it to produce 25,000 of the new gearboxes every year. There are plans for a second phase of investment in 2020 that could double its production capacity.

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