Pitting and tooth root breakage are typical fatigue failure modes of case hardened gears. Both failure types are usually initiated at the surface or close to the surface. General trends in modern gear industry, such as improved gear design with adequate flank modifications, high-quality gear materials and high-performance lubricants, modern manufacturing processes with additional post-processes as shot peening and superfinishing as well as advanced calculation methods, have allowed an optimized utilization of the allowable pitting and bending stress numbers in recent years. As a result of the increased power density, however, the stresses below the surface rise with the consequence of an increased risk of fatigue failure initiation in the material below the surface.
This paper describes main characteristics of a failure mode characterized by tooth breakages which start in the area of the active flank from cracks that are typically initiated at a considerable depth beneath the loaded flank surface. Based on theoretical and experimental investigations, relevant influence parameters related to gear design, operating conditions and material strength on the failure mode “Tooth Flank Breakage” will be discussed and basic principles of a developed calculation model to evaluate the risk of such failures presented. Finally, exemplarily experimental results from gear running tests, which failed due to flank breakage, are compared to the results of the new calculation model.