Contact Ratio (or) Number of Pairs of Teeth in Contact

To assure continuous smooth tooth action, as one pair of teeth ceases action a succeeding pair of teeth must already have come into engagement. It is desirable to have as much overlap as is possible. A measure of this overlap action is the contact ratio. This is a ratio of the length of the line-of-action to the base pitch. Figure 11-1 shows the geometry for a spur gear pair, which is the simplest case, and is representative of the concept for all gear types. The length-of-action is determined from the intersection of the line-of-action and the outside radii. The ratio of the length-of-action to the base pitch is determined from:

Equation 11-1

Figure 11-1

It is good practice to maintain a contact ratio of 1.2 or greater. Under no circumstances should the ratio drop below 1.1, calculated for all tolerances at their worst case values.

A contact ratio between 1 and 2 means that part of the time two pairs of teeth are in contact and during the remaining time one pair is in contact. A ratio between 2 and 3 means 2 or 3 pairs of teeth are always in contact. Such a high ratio is generally not obtained with external spur gears, but can be developed in the meshing of internal gears, helical gears, or specially designed nonstandard external spur gears.

When considering all types of gears, contact ratio is composed of two components:

  1. Radial contact ratio (plane of rotation perpendicular to axes), εα
  2. Overlap contact ratio (axial), εβ

The sum is the total contact ratio, εɣ.

The overlap contact ratio component exists only in gear pairs that have helical or spiral tooth forms.

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