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What is a planetary gearbox?

A planetary gearbox (also known less excitingly as an epicyclic gear system) is an arrangement of gears named due to its resemblance to the solar system. The three main components of a planetary gear system are:

Ring gear

Also known as an annulus, this is the outermost gear with inward-facing teeth which mesh with the inner planet gears.

Sun gear

Just as the Sun is located in the centre of the solar system, a sun gear sits at the heart of a planetary gearset.

Planet gears

Two or more planet gears orbit the sun gear and also mesh with the ring gear.

Unlike some gear systems, any of these three elements can be used as the input or the output. Planetary gearboxes tend to be used in applications requiring high torque-to-weight ratio such as lifts, cranes and machine tools in agriculture, marine industry and power plants.

Pros

  • Very efficient power transmission
  • Compact arrangement
  • Shared load distribution increases torque.

Cons

  • Limited accessibility
  • Complex design
  • Driver and driven equipment must be in line to avoid extra gearing.

Gibbons stock a range of high-performance transmission systems, including gearboxes built by industry-leading manufacturers such as Bonfiglioli, Sumitomo and Nord. Find out more by calling 01621 868138 or email info@gibbonsgroup.co.uk and one of our expert engineers will get back to you.

Transmission Systems

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