The smaller of the two gear artifacts calibrated at NIST this summer.
As mechanical objects, gears have been around for so long that people may take them for granted. But gears are sophisticated parts that play a vital role in cars, airplanes, construction and mining equipment, food processing, clock making and more.
And companies are still trying to make them better — specifically, quieter. As electric vehicles become more popular, the industry is pushing for gears that have tighter and tighter tolerances — in other words, smaller differences between the maximum and minimum sizes in a batch of gears that are considered acceptable for sale. Gears that fit together better make less noise, transfer power more efficiently and last longer.
“Those gear noises have always been there in gas cars, but electric cars are so quiet that now you can hear them over the engine,” said Dennis Everett, a mechanical engineer at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). “Consumers don’t like hearing those noises.”
Now, after a more than 30-year break, NIST is once again conducting ultra-accurate gear-related measurements for customers, starting with a major U.S. company that supports gear manufacturing.
Closeup of the larger of the two gear artifacts calibrated at NIST this summer. The CMM’s ruby-tipped probe touches the artifact’s involute curve.
In addition to the gear artifact measured in 2019, NIST provided calibrations for two gear artifacts this summer: a larger one (background) whose involute feature has a relatively shallow curve, and a smaller one (foreground) with a much steeper curve.
As the nation’s laboratory for metrology (measurement science), NIST was performing these services for decades when requested by cu ..
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