This paper proposes a single-roller enveloping hourglass worm gear design and verifies its advantages compared to the existing double-roller worm gear system and the conventional worm gear set. Our hypothesis is that the single-roller worm gear with appropriate configurations and parametric values can eliminate the backlash in mating gear transmission while maintaining advantages of the double-roller worm gears. Also, the self-rotation of the rollers when they are in the worm tooth space (TS) will help the gear system to avoid jamming and gear tooth scuffing/seizing problems caused by zero backlash and thermal expansion. In order to test that hypothesis, a mathematical model for the single-roller enveloping hourglass worm gear is developed, which includes a gear engagement equation and a tooth profile equation. Using that model, a parametric study is conducted to inspect the influences of center distance, roller radius, transmission ratio, and the radius of base circle on the worm gear meshing characteristics. It is found that the most effective way in eliminating the backlash is to adjust the roller radius and the radius of base circle. Finally, a single-roller enveloping hourglass worm gear set is manufactured and scanned to generate a 3D computer model. That model is compared with a theoretical model calculated from the developed mathematical model. Comparison results show that both models match very well, which verifies the accuracy of the developed mathematical model and our initial hypothesis that it is possible to achieve transmissions with zero backlash by adjusting the design parameters.

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