Selecting Non-Metallic Gear Materials

Plastic gears offer many advantages over Nylon gears and Delrin gears, the chief among them that they are self lubricating, reduce noise and reduce maintenance. There are many plastic materials available, each offering unique properties. Which one will you choose for your application? Here are some questions our engineers identified as helpful in the process of selecting material for plastic gears.

Questions to ask when designing and specifying plastic gears

  • How much backlash do plastic gears require?
  • How much allowance in backlash is to be allocated to moisture absorption?
  • What is the impact of cast-in metal core on the backlash?
  • Am I taking a risk by just replacing metal gears with plastic gears?
  • Is a bigger or smaller tooth better for my application?
  • How fast can plastic gears turn without lubrication?
  • Can the class of plastic gears change in different environments?
  • Can I reduce inertia and maintain adequate gear strength?
  • How do you increase tooth root strength up to 18% when face width is limited?
  • How does the flank wear in non-lubricated plastic gears affect the gear life?
  • How many hours will plastic gears run in a given application?
  • What is the best material suitable for my application?
  • How do I attach plastic gears to the shaft? What are the alternatives for large and small gears?
  • Can plastic gears be used in sub-zero, e.g. -50°F, temperatures?
  • What is the difference in gear life between pressing all plastic gears onto a shaft vs a gear with a metal core?
  • What is the largest gear OD I can design with plastic gears?
  • Can a bearing be safely installed in small plastic idler gears?
  • Why are some plastic gears noisier than others?
  • Do I design the pinion or the drive out of plastic?
  • Which plastic material has the highest impact strength for my shock load application?


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The data below has been determined empirically. For details on other non-metallic materials, please contact the manufacturer.


Note: Delrin® is a registered trademark of DuPont. For further details on Delrin please contact DuPont.