Previous research provides qualitative evidence that an improved surface finish can increase the surface fatigue lives of gears. To quantify the influence of surface roughness on life, a set of AISI 9310 steel gears was provided with a near-mirror finish by superfinishing. The effects of the superfinishing on the quality of the gear tooth surfaces were determined using data from metrology, profilometry, and interferometric microscope inspections. The superfinishing reduced the roughness average by about a factor of 5. The superfinished gears were subjected to surface fatigue testing at 1.71-GPa (248-ksi) Hertz contact stress, and the data were compared with the NASA Glenn gear fatigue data base. The lives of gears with superfinished teeth were about four times greater compared with the lives of gears with ground teeth but with otherwise similar quality.

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