Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS



Project ID: 697098

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SMARTGEARBOX (Development of a new gearbox without lubricants for low OM costs, higher efficiency, and oiless applications)

Reporting period: 2016-01-01 to 2016-12-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Smart Gearbox project has the final aim develop a maintenance free for oil leaking reducer.
Gearboxes are present in every factory plant and machine, and the main cause for stopping their operations is the need of changing the oil inside them or the fact the oil is leaking from the seal rings.
We esteem that the absence of lubricants (oils and grease) can reduce the cost of maintenance for the final users up to the 50%, together with the cost related to the collection of the hazarded waste in accordance to the Waste framework Directive 2008/98/EC. Not less important we believe this new reducer will be an effective measure to reduce the risk of oil contamination of the products for markets like Food and Beverages or Pharmaceutical.
The Smart Gearbox will be a worm wheel reducer with maximum wheel base 50mm, to be loaded up to 100Nm without any need of operation and maintenance.
Technically this means to use thermoplastic material for the wheel instead of the traditional Bronze and consequently to adapt the gears design to this material.
Our current gear design software needs to be adapted too, in order to provide more reliable results for thermoplastic materials.
We also need to identify a solution for the cooling of the reducer, since the action of the lubricant in this sense will be missed.
We are working to overcome these technical issues in order to develop a completely new product that will help us pursuing the Company goal to reach plus 40% in our turnover in 2020.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

As a big part of the gear design software adaptation we’ve completed so far, we build a database of the thermoplastic material we are going to use for wheels of the Smart Gearbox, including mechanical, physical and triblogical properties, that had all been tested. These properties are not usually known for thermoplastic compounds, but they are essential for the gear design software to be reliable.
The database has been included in the preliminary version of the software adapted for thermoplastic and it was also used by the software house (one of the project subcontractor) to evaluate all the risk related to teeth wear and fracture, using as guide the exiting VDI 2736-3.
Using this preliminary version together with FEM simulations we identified a new gears design dedicated for thermoplastic, and we produced the first wheels prototypes by injection molding. The Worm-shafts will still be made of steel, so the prototypes were made by cutting. The testing of this prototypes has already started.
We’ have completed all the work for the identification of a cooling system and we’ve identified a reliable solution by modifying both the worm-shaft and case design. At the beginning of this project we had the idea to study a new design for the gearbox’s case to fulfill this goal, but then by running the first preliminary fluid-dynamic simulations we saw that working on the shaft design adaptations too could give us better results.
All the test that we run on the cooling system prototypes confirmed this, and the new cooling system was implemented on the Smart Gearbox prototypes with the new designed wheel that we are now testing.
All this experimental work required from us also making substantial improvement on our test rig, all the modification were identified and fulfilled in order to start running the test on time.
Together with the all the work related to overcome technical issues, we developed a Smart Gearbox dedicated website that has been updated constantly with all the project progress and news. We officially launched it to all our customers and distributors. Also in September 2016 in order to further disseminate our idea we attend an international conference in Lubjana dedicated to thermoplastic material tribology, where the audience was composed both by academic expert in the field, both by possible future customers.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

We reach the highest level of knowledge of a specific thermoplastic material properties. These materials are usually not so deep investigated by their supplier and final users.
This also bring a big step forward in the reliability that our gear design software can provide as output calculation.
All the simulations that we run for the gear design and the injection molding process together with the mold supplier, definitely increases our R&D department knowhow and skills on the thermoplastics materials mechanical response and their processability in gear applications.
The good result we had on the cooling system development is definitely a fundamental step to the success of the Smart Gearbox project, and it will also be good chance for us to become the owner of a new technology to be applied in new market sectors. On the base of the Freedom to operate analysis we completed we believe this is also a result to be patented.
The project so far gave us also the chance to improve ore test rig and experimental set up, this way also improving the reliability of the answers we can give to our final customers.
The technical results we achieved so far remark our objective to introduce the Smart Gearbox product in 2017, this way pursuing our final goal to raise our company turnover of the 40% till 2020.

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