Necessity is the mother of invention, and that certainly rings true in the case of the many different types of gearboxes available on the market. Each gearbox variation offers unique capabilities and serves different applications. Let’s unpack the various types of right angle gearboxes on the market, what they are, and how they're used.
Types of Gearboxes
While there are sub-varieties within these main categories, there are 4 main types of gearboxes we’ll be discussing:
A worm gear drive consists of a screw (the worm) that meshes with a gear or wheel. This design enables control over rotational direction and speed and higher torque transmission. There are many sub-varieties of worm gears, including Single-throated, Non-throated, and Double-throated.
Worm gears used in industrial applications do not reverse, making them valuable to regulate speed and when braking and/or holding are required. Good examples are elevators and other lifting mechanisms. For these applications, a worm drive is not used alone, but as a secondary braking system.
Learn more about worm gears in our article, Worm Gears 101: A Breakdown of Common Functions and Applications.
The gears in a spiral bevel gear design are cut in a helix. The helical cut runs either clockwise or counter-clockwise. For this reason, they're always designed, fabricated, and used in pairs. A gearbox, once fabricated, should be considered sealed.
Spiral Bevel Gearboxes have many advantages: They’re on-plane, meaning they can provide a direct transfer of power at a right angle in the same plane. They’re precise with less than half of a degree of backlash. Their power can be transmitted left, right, or in both directions with the same shafts, making them the perfect candidate for a three-way coupling. And finally, their precision engineering and spiral gear design leaves minimal wear on the gears, giving them a long life!
Learn more about spiral bevel gears in our article, Everything You Need to Know About Spiral Bevel Gear Design.
This design produces greater thrust and radial loads and operates at lower temperatures, so it is extra efficient and lasts a long time. Helical gearboxes operate smoothly, quietly, and efficiently. They are a good choice for high horsepower industrial applications such as packaging, cutting, and labeling, but they’re most commonly used in transmissions.
Fun fact: Here at W.C. Branham, we pioneered right-angle hollow bore helical gearboxes! Learn more about that design and helical gearboxes in our article, Helical or Spiral Bevel: Commonly Used Gearboxes in Packaging Machinery.
An age-old design, the planetary gearbox got its name because the different gears move together like planets. A center gear turns, moving multiple gears around it, mirroring the gravitational pull of planets in our solar system.
Planetary gearboxes have multiple benefits: Because the torque is divided over 3 gears at equal dimensions, the torque is almost 3x more powerful than typical gearboxes. They’re also compact and therefore have a low mass inertia.
While W.C. Branham doesn’t offer planetary gearboxes, here’s a great resource from Apex Dynamics on Planetary Gearboxes.
Need Something Custom?
Not every solution requires a cookie-cutter gearbox – in fact, many applications have unique challenges that just can’t be satisfied by one of the basic options. Take our friends at Stainless Systems, for example. One of their customers’ chicken processing plants had an ancient custom gearbox that finally needed replacing.
They had two absolute musts on this project: The gearbox had to be 1) stainless steel to meet stringent cleanliness standards and 2) horizontally mounted because to repel washdown water (rather than allow moisture to get inside like a vertically mounted gearbox). In five months, we completed the project according to their standards and have supported them with more gearboxes since.
Have your own custom needs? Give us the specs and we can help out!
View the W.C. Branham Gearbox Product Line
W.C. Branham offers a variety of off-the-shelf right angle gearboxes. Take a look at our full gearbox product line to learn more, and contact us with any questions you may have.