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Gears can fail in many different ways, and except for an increase in noise level and vibration, there is often no indication of difficulty until total failure occurs. This chapter begins with the classification of gear failure modes, followed by sections discussing the characteristics of various fatigue failures. Then, it provides information on the modes of impact fractures, wear, scuffing, and stress rupture. Next, the chapter describes the causes of gear failures and discusses the processes involved in conducting the failure analysis. Finally, the chapter presents examples of gear failure analysis.

This chapter summarizes the various kinds of gear wear and failure and how gear life in service is estimated and discusses the kinds of flaws in material that may lead to premature gear fatigue failure. The topics covered are alignment, gear tooth, surface durability and breakage of gear tooth, life determined by contact stress and bending stress, analysis of gear tooth failure by breakage after pitting, and metallurgical flaws that reduce the life of gears. The chapter briefly reviews some components in the design and structure of each gear and/or gear train that must be considered in conjunction with the teeth to enhance fatigue life.

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