In engineering terms, the relationship between a wide-diameter standard gear and a narrow-diameter threaded shaft (worm) is colloquially referred to as a worm gear configuration.
Worm gears are special power transmitters, in that the two different gears work at 90° to each other to emphasize dedicated ratio management functions. Imagine the face of a regular gear, its central turning point and an outer ring of teeth.
The worm component, the screw-like cylinder, meshes at right angles to this regular spur gear and turns the circular gearwheel, thus targeting specific energy transmission characteristics. In short, this unique gearing partnership delivers prodigious speed reduction features while amplifying torque, thus exemplifying properties that are eagerly embraced by industrial engineers.
Uses of Worm Gears
As stated above, the gears have one obvious physical characteristic; they rotate movement through a 90° plane. Self-evident as this mechanical property is, it barely makes it to the front page of listed features. It's the energy transforming characteristics of the product that really make the difference.
Capable of massive reduction ratios, the special gearing arrangement cuts speed while maintaining torque. Indeed, it's not unusual to see high-end variants offering 20:1 reduction ratios while dedicated reduction models promote a 300:1 feature with little-to-no modification effort.
Compact in size due to the small diameter of the worm, the gears also possess another property, that of natural braking. Worms easily rotate spur gears, but it's almost impossible for the reverse action to take place, so inbuilt braking is a central feature of the form, which makes the gear an ideal fit for elevators and non-reversible systems.
It would require a number of conventional gears to replicate the function of one set of worm gears. For example, advanced steering differential systems in modern automobiles employ consolidated worm gearing components to turn the front and rear wheels at slightly different angles and improve cornering.
And, on returning to elevators, compact worm units raise torque and manage speed while adding built-in secondary braking, an element of safety that comes directly from the gears.
Finally, large-scale industrial processes typically employ motors that rotate at high velocities, but torque is a relatively substandard feature of these motors. The ratio management aspects of worm equipment reverse this dynamic, upping torque while lowering speed.
Quietly under the jurisdiction of these gears, the reduction process allows these high-speed motors to drive powered gates, packaging machinery, conveyor systems, machine tools, and other applications that absolutely demand power over speed.