Legal and Regulatory

AGMA prepares members to use additive manufacturing in gear production

The American Gear Manufacturers Association (AGMA) has published a new document outlining the use of additive manufacturing within its industry. With this document, titled Additive Manufacturing Technologies for Gears, AGMA aims to help disseminate more information about 3D printing among its members, and eliminate some of the myths associated with the technology.

According to Mary Ellen Doran, AGMA Director of Emerging Technology, “This paper provides AGMA members with a snapshot of the current state of 3D printing metal and where it is beginning to intersect with the gear industry.”

“There is a lot of information out there on additive right now. But this paper is unique in that we worked to keep the focus on how this technology may directly be used to make gears. We hope that this is just a springboard for more activity by AGMA committees in this area.”

Emerging technologies in power transmission

Noting the growing importance of additive manufacturing, and other new areas of engineering such as robotics and IoT, the AGMA set up an Emerging Technology Committee (ETC). The goal of the ETC, as expressed by AGMA is to:

“Identify, investigate and inform AGMA members of Emerging Technologies that may disrupt or significantly impact the power transmission industry.”

As a result the AGMA has begun to develop a pool of resources for each of these areas of interest, to help its members in applying the different areas to their processes.

Cover page of the Additive Manufacturing Technologies for Gears whitepaper from the AGMA. Image via the American Gear Manufacturers Association
Cover page of the Additive Manufacturing Technologies for Gears whitepaper from the AGMA. Image via the American Gear Manufacturers Association

Additive manufacturing’s opportunity 

This latest whitepaper from the association focuses on metal 3D printing in particular and materials suitable for gear production. Its covers covering all technologies defined by the ASTM International F42 Committe, and was written on behalf of the company by Kirk Rogers, Senior ADDvisorTM of additive manufacturing consultancy business The Barnes Group Advisors.

Key 3D printing opportunities highlighted for their potential in the power transmission industry by the document include:

– The use of internal cooling and lubrication channels, as applied in rocket thrusters, and turbine blades

– A reduction of gear system inertia

Multi-material metal 3D printing, for more durable parts

– Reduced material costs and wastage

– Cut lead times in product development a time to market and,

– An ability to “improve safety, repeatability and assist humans with aids and tools.”

Part customization, as well as the ability to work with new materials, such as amorphous metals, should also be taken into consideration.

The amorphous metal component. Photo via Heraeus.
A amorphous metal gear recently 3D printed for the first time. Photo via Heraeus.

Access Additive Manufacturing Technologies for Gears

The full detail of the paper is available to member for free, and non-members for a one-off fee. Justin Michaud, President, R.E.M. Surface Engineering and Chair of the AGMA 3D Printing subcommittee, concludes, “I’m excited that the committee had been able to oversee the generation of this paper as it fills a key need for AGMA members, obtaining an overall understanding of metal additive manufacturing and how if may affect gear manufacturing directly.”

“There are a lot of assumptions and misunderstandings in reference to metal AM. This paper will help address these issues by providing enough information to complete a high to medium level evaluation of the technology without overwhelming the reader.”

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Featured image shows a 3D printed metal gear from the GE Additive ATLAS project. Photo by Michael Petch.