A simple mathematical model of friction in speed reducers is presented and discussed. A rigid body approach, typical for multibody simulations, is adopted. The model is based on the Coulomb friction law and exploits the analogy between reducers and wedge mechanisms.
The first version of the model is purely rigid, i.e. no deflections of the mechanism bodies are allowed. Constraints are introduced to maintain the ratio between input and output velocity. It is shown that when friction is above the self-locking limit, paradoxical situations may be observed when kinetic friction is investigated. For some sets of parameters of the mechanism (gearing ratio, coefficient of friction and inertial parameters) two distinct solutions of normal and friction forces can be found. Moreover, for some combinations of external loads, a solution that satisfies equations of motion, constraints and Coulomb friction law does not exist. Furthermore, for appropriately chosen loads and parameters of the mechanism, infinitely many feasible sets of normal and friction forces can be found. Examples of all indicated paradoxical situations are provided and discussed.
The second version of the model allows deflection of the frictional contact surface, and forces proportional to this deflection are applied to contacting bodies (no constraints to maintain the input-output velocity ratio are introduced). In non-paradoxical situations the obtained results are closely similar to those predicted by the rigid body model. In previously paradoxical situations no multiple solutions of friction force are found, however, the amended model does not solve all problems. It is shown that in regions for which the paradoxes were observed only unstable solutions are available. Numerical examples showing behavior of the model are provided and analyzed.