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Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15

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Mechanism and Machine Theory


journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/mechmachtheory

The influence of tooth pitting on the mesh stiffness of a pair


of external spur gears
Xihui Liang a, Hongsheng Zhang b, Libin Liu a, Ming J. Zuo a,n
a
Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G1H9
b
School of Mechatronics Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin, Heilongjiang 150001, China

a r t i c l e i n f o abstract

Article history: Time-varying mesh stiffness is one of the main internal excitations of gear dynamics. With
Received 4 April 2016 the growth of gear tooth fault, like pitting, cracking and spalling, the mesh stiffness am-
Received in revised form plitude changes and consequently the dynamic properties of the gear system change. This
4 July 2016
study is devoted to deriving equations of the mesh stiffness of a pair of external spur gears
Accepted 4 August 2016
Available online 26 August 2016
with tooth pitting. Different pitting severity levels are modeled. The influence of tooth
pitting on the gear mesh stiffness is investigated. The relationship between pitting se-
Keywords: verity and mesh stiffness is established. The proposed method is validated to be effective
Mesh stiffness in mesh stiffness evaluation by comparing with a finite element model.
Potential energy method
& 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd. on behalf of International Federation for the Promotion
Pitting modeling
of Mechanism and Machine Science
Finite element
Dynamics

1. Introduction

Due to high service load, harsh operating conditions or fatigue, faults may develop in gears [1]. Gear faults are re-
sponsible for approximately 60% of gearbox failures [2]. Most of these come from damage on the gear teeth such as pitting,
cracking, and spalling [2]. Through observations at Syncrude Canada Ltd, fatigue crack and tooth pitting were the two
commonest failure modes [3]. Crack is a non-lubrication-related failure mode while pitting is a lubrication-related failure
mode [2]. Many researchers modeled gear crack and its effect on gear mesh stiffness [4]. However, the research on gear
tooth pitting modeling and its effect on gear mesh stiffness is limited. This study focuses on gear tooth pitting modeling and
investigation of its effect on the time-varying mesh stiffness of a pair of external spur gear.
According to American Society for Metals (ASM) handbook [5], “Pitting occurs when fatigue cracks are initiated on the tooth
surface or just below the surface. Usually, pits are the result of surface cracks caused by metal-to-metal contact of asperities or defects
due to low lubricant film thickness. High-speed gears with smooth surfaces and good film thickness may experience pitting due to
subsurface cracks. These cracks may start at inclusions in the gear materials, which act as stress concentrations, and propagate below
and parallel to the tooth surface. Pits are formed when these cracks break through the tooth surface and cause material separation.
When several pits join, a larger pit (or spall) is formed. Pitting can also be caused by foreign particle contamination of lubricant. These
particles create surface stress concentration points that reduce lubricant film thickness and promote pitting.”
Tan et al. [6] experimentally measured pitting growth under different levels of load. In order to create surface pitting in a
relatively short time frame, lubricant oil (SAE 20W-50) without anti-wear properties was employed. The experimental tests were
performed at a rotational speed of 745 rpm but under different torque levels: 220 N m, 147 N m, and 73 N m. For the higher applied

n
Corresponding author.
E-mail address: ming.zuo@ualberta.ca (M.J. Zuo).

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.mechmachtheory.2016.08.005
0094-114X/& 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd. on behalf of International Federation for the Promotion of Mechanism and Machine Science
2 X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15

Fig. 1. Pitting growth under the operation condition of 73 N m and 745 rpm [6].

torque conditions (220 N m and 147 N m), pitting occurred across the face width and was evident on most of the gear teeth. For the
lower applied torque condition (73 N m), pitting was spread across the face width of the gear teeth at a much slower rate and was
localized to only a few teeth. Prolonged operation time resulted in pitting spreading to other gear teeth. Fig. 1 shows the pitted area
progression from 6.3% to 41.7% of the gear tooth surface, under the test condition of 73 N m and 745 rpm.
Man-made pitting was produced on gear teeth by several researchers to experimentally explore its corresponding fault
symptoms of a gearbox. Gelman et al. [7] artificially etched grooves along the pitch line of a single tooth to mimic pitting
fault. Lee et al. [8] created a pit on tooth surface at around the pitch line by removing a small part of the tooth material.
Combet et al. [9] manually produced pits on the tooth flank of five teeth. The pitted teeth were not adjacent to each other,
but separated by six healthy teeth. Öztürk et al. [10] first created circular pits on one tooth using electro-erosion machine.
Then more pits with the same size were added to that tooth and also some were created on neighboring teeth to account for
pitting growth. Hoseini et al. [11] artificially created circular pits on a planet gear using the electro discharge machining in
their planetary gearbox experimental tests. The number of pits was varied to mimic the slight, moderate and severe pitting
damages as shown in Fig. 2. In this study, we also model the gear tooth pitting using circular pits as did in [10,11].
Several researchers investigated the effect of a single pit or a spall on the time-varying mesh stiffness of gears. Chaari
et al. [12] and Choy et al. [13] roughly modified the shape of gear mesh stiffness to simulate the pitting fault. They did not
provide any principle or equation to determine the gear mesh stiffness with pitting growth. Cheng et al. [14], Abouel-seoud
et al. [15] and Chaari et al. [1] analytically studied the effect of a single pit on the time-varying mesh stiffness of gears. The
pit was modeled as a rectangular shape as shown in Fig. 3(a). In Cheng's model, the pitting length (a) and pitting width (b)
were fixed while the pitting severity was determined by the pitting depth (c). In Abouel-seoud's model, the pitting width (b)
and pitting depth (c) were fixed while the pitting severity was determined by pitting length (a). Chaari et al. [1] developed
two models in his study. One is the same as Cheng's model [14] while the other one is the same as Abouel-seoud's model
[15]. Rincon et al. [16] evaluated the pitting effect on the time-varying mesh stiffness of a pair of gears using the finite
element method. A single pit was modeled in elliptical shape as shown in Fig. 3(b). The pit size was fixed but pitting
location's effect on gear mesh stiffness was investigated. Three pitting locations were investigated, respectively, namely
single tooth contact zone, double-tooth contact zone, and transitional zone from single to double contact. Ma et al. [17]
investigated the effect of tooth spalling on gear mesh stiffness. A single rectangular spalling was modeled and the effects of
spalling width, spalling length and spalling location on stiffness were investigated, respectively. All the above studies re-
garding gear mesh stiffness evaluation focus on a single tooth pit. Their methods cannot be used to evaluate the mesh

Fig. 2. Planet gears with artificially created pitting damage [11].


X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15 3

Fig. 3. Pitting models for gear mesh stiffness evaluation.

stiffness of gears with multiple pits on a gear tooth. This study will address this shortcoming.
The potential energy method is an analytical method for evaluating the gear mesh stiffness. Yang and Lin [18] proposed
the potential energy method. The total energy stored in a pair of meshing gears was the sum of Hertzian energy, bending
energy and axial compressive energy. Later, Tian et al. [19] added the shear energy to the potential energy method. The
potential energy method was used to evaluate the mesh stiffness of perfect gears [18,20,21], gears with crack [4,19,22–33],
gears with a single tooth pit [15], gears with a chipped tooth [19], gears with tooth profile modification [34], gears with
tooth plastic inclination deformation [35], and gears with carrier misalignment errors [36]. The potential energy method is
also used in this study to evaluate the mesh stiffness of a pair of external spur gears with multiple pits on a gear tooth.
In this study, tooth pitting is molded in a circular shape. Equations are derived to evaluate the mesh stiffness of gears
with multiple pits on a tooth using the potential energy method. Then, a case study is given to illustrate the pitting effect on
the gear mesh stiffness. Three pitting severity levels are modeled: slight pitting, moderate pitting and severe pitting. In the
end, the proposed method is compared with a finite element model to check its accuracy.

2. Mesh stiffness derivation for gears with tooth pitting

In this study, tooth pits are modeled in circular shape as did in [10,11]. The potential energy method [18,21,26] is used to
derive the equations of gear mesh stiffness. In [18,21,26], the gear system is assumed to be without friction, manufacturing
error, or transmission error, and the gear body is treated as rigid. The same assumptions will be employed in this paper. Our
goal is to express the mesh stiffness equations as a function of gear rotation angle. In the first step, we derive mesh stiffness
equations for gears with a single tooth pit. Then, these equations are extended to gears with multiple pits on a gear tooth.

2.1. Mesh stiffness derivation for gears with a single tooth pit

In [26], a cantilever beam model was used for a gear tooth to evaluate the mesh stiffness of perfect gears as shown in
Fig. 4.(a). The gear tooth was modeled starting from the root circle. The tooth fillet curve was approximated using a straight
line for the convenience of equation derivation. We extend this model by adding tooth pitting. In this section, a single
circular pit is considered as shown in Fig. 4.(b). The whole circle is within the tooth surface area. The position and size of a
single pit can be fully expressed by three variables: (u, r, δ ), where u represents the distance between the tooth root and the
circle center of the pit, r is the radius of the pit circle, and δ is the pitting depth. The position of the pit in the tooth
0 direction (the tooth width is L as indicated in Fig. 4.b) is not required in the proposed method. The reason will be explained
later right after equation (2.16).

2.1.1. Bending, shear and axial compressive stiffness


According to the involute curve properties, the action line of two meshing gears is tangent to the gear base circles and
normal to the tooth involute profile. The action force F which is along the action line, can be decomposed into two or-
thogonal forces Fa and Fb , as shown in Fig. 5.
Fa = F sin α1 (2.1)
Fb = F cos α1 (2.2)

Applying the potential energy method, the bending, shear and axial compressive energies stored in a tooth can be
expressed as follows [18]:
4 X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15

(a) (b)
u r
A pit

δ O L
δ
2r

Root Base Root Base


circle circle circle circle
Fig. 4. Tooth modeling: (a) a perfect gear tooth model reported in [26] and (b) the proposed tooth model with a single pit.

Root circle Base circle


d
u Fb
x F
d1 α1

Rr 2r O δ
Fa
hx
α A pit h
O α2 α3
α1 α
Rb

Action line

Fig. 5. Elastic force on a gear tooth with a pit.

F2 d [Fb (d − x) − Fa h]2
Ub =
2k b
= ∫0 2EIx
dx,
(2.3)

F2 d 1.2Fb2
Us =
2k s
= ∫0 2GAx
dx,
(2.4)

F2 d Fa2
Ua =
2k a
= ∫0 2EAx
dx,
(2.5)

where kb , ks and ka represent the bending, shear and axial compressive stiffness, respectively, E and G denote Young's
modulus and shear modulus, respectively, h is the distance between the gear contact point and the tooth central line, d is the
distance between the gear contact point and the gear root, Ax and Ix indicate the area and the area moment of inertia of the
tooth section, respectively, where the distance to the tooth root is x .
According to the characteristics of the involute curve, h, hx , d , x, Ax and Ix of a perfect gear tooth can be expressed as
follows [26]:
X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15 5

h = Rb ⎡⎣ ( α1 + α2 ) cos α1 − sin α1⎤⎦, (2.6)


⎪ R b sin α2, if 0 ≤ x ≤ d1
hx = ⎨ ,
⎩ Rb ⎡⎣ ( α + α2 ) cos α − sin α⎤⎦, if d1 < x ≤ d

(2.7)

d = Rb ⎡⎣ ( α1 + α2 ) sin α1 + cos α1⎤⎦ − Rr cos α3, (2.8)

x = Rb ⎡⎣ ( α + α2 ) sin α + cos α⎤⎦ − Rr cos α3, (2.9)

A x = 2h x L , (2.10)

1 2
Ix = (2hx )3 L = hx3L,
12 3 (2.11)

where Rb , Rr and L represent the base circle radius, root circle radius and tooth width of the external gear, respectively, hx
denotes the height of the section of which the distance to the tooth root is x , α2 is the half tooth angle on the base circle, α3
describes the approximated half tooth angle on the root circle, and α is the gear rotation angle (see Fig. 5). The expression of
α2 and α3 are given as follows [26]:
π
α2 = + tan α0 − α0,
2Z (2.12)

⎛ R sin α2 ⎞
α3 = arcsin ⎜ b ⎟,
⎝ Rr ⎠ (2.13)

where Z is the number of teeth of the external gear, and α0 is the pressure angle.
For a gear tooth with pitting, the expressions of h, hx , Ix and Ax are different from the ones given above for a perfect gear
tooth. In addition, the tooth contact width is not constant L. We use ΔL x , ΔAx and ΔIx to represent the reduction of tooth
contact width, area and area moment of inertia of the tooth section, respectively, where the distance to the gear contact
point is x. For a gear tooth with a single pit as modeled in Fig. 4.b, the expressions of ΔL x , ΔAx and ΔIx are given as follows:

⎪2 r 2 − (u − x)2 , x ∈ [u−r , u + r ]
ΔL x = ⎨

,
⎩ 0, others (2.14)
⎧ ΔL x δ, x ∈ [u−r , u + r ]
ΔAx = ⎨ ,
⎩ 0, others (2.15)
⎧ 1 A ΔA (h − δ/2)2
⎪ ΔL x δ 3 + x x x , x ∈ [u−r , u + r ]
ΔIx = ⎨ 12 Ax − ΔAx .

⎩ 0, others (2.16)

u r
A pit ∆Lx
A B C D
δ δ
O δ L hx G H
2r
hx x
dx
x
hx

hx E
F L

Root Base
circle circle
Fig. 6. A tooth section of a gear with a single pit.
6 X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15

Fig. 6 illustrates a tooth section of a gear with a single pit. Let's use Ix and Ix2 to represent the area moments of inertia of
tooth sections A-B-C-D-E-F and A-B-G-H-C-D-E-F with respect to axis x, respectively. Let's use Ix ′ to represent the area
moment of inertia of tooth section A-B-G-H-C-D-E-F about axis x′, where x′ is the centroidal axis of tooth section A-B-G-H-C-
D-E-F. Using the parallel axis theorem [37], we can obtain:

1 ⎛ δ ⎞2
Ix = Ix2 + ΔL x δ 3 + ΔL x δ ⎜ hx − ⎟ ,
12 ⎝ 2⎠ (2.17)

Ix2 = Ix ′ + (2hx L − ΔL x δ )(dx )2 , (2.18)

where dx =
(
ΔLx δ hx −
δ
2 ).
2hx L −ΔLx δ
Combing Eqs. (2.17) and (2.18), we can get:
1 A ΔA (h − δ/2)2
Ix ′ = Ix− ΔL x δ 3− x x x .
12 Ax − ΔAx (2.19)

Let's use ΔIx ¼ Ix−Ix ′ to represent the reduction of area moment of inertia of the tooth section. We can obtain equation
(2.16).
Given a gear tooth with a circular pit, we can calculate ΔL x , ΔAx and ΔIx for any tooth section of which the distance to the
gear contact point is x. In addition, we can observe from Eq. (2.9) that x is a function of gear rotation angle (denoted by α ).
Therefore, for any given gear rotation angle, we can calculate the values of ΔL x , ΔAx and ΔIx using Eqs. (2.14), (2.15) and (2.16),
respectively. In addition, ΔL x , ΔAx and ΔIx are all independent of the pit position in the tooth width direction. Therefore, the
pit position along the tooth width is not required in these equations.
Substituting Eqs. (2.1), (2.2), (2.6) to (2.9), (2.14) to (2.16) into Eq. (2.3), the bending stiffness of an external gear tooth
with a circular pit can be obtained:

⎡ (Z − 2.5) cos α1 cos α 3 ⎤ 3


⎣1 − ⎦ − (1 − cos α1 cos α 2 ) 3
1 N cos α 0
=
kb 2EL cos α1 sin3 α 2
α2 {
3 1 + cos α1 [ (α 2 − α ) sin α − cos α ] }2 (α2 − α) cos α dα.
+ ∫−α 1 ⎛ ΔIx ⎞
E ⎜ 2L [ sin α + (α 2 − α ) cos α ]3 − 3 R 3 ⎟
⎝ b ⎠ (2.20)

Substituting Eqs. (2.2), (2.7) to (2.10), (2.14) to (2.15) into Eq. (2.4), the shear stiffness of an external gear tooth with a
circular pit can be obtained:

1
=
1.2 (1 + ν)cos2 α1 cos α 2 − ( Z −2.5
Z cos α 0
cos α3 )
ks EL sin α 2
α2 1.2 (1 + ν )(α 2 − α ) cos α cos2 α1
+ ∫−α dα .
1
(
E L [ sin α + (α 2 − α ) cos α ] −
ΔA x
2R b ) (2.21)

Substituting Eqs. (2.1), (2.7) to (2.10), (2.14) to (2.15) into Eq. (2.5), the axial compressive stiffness of an external gear
tooth with a circular pit can be obtained:

1
=
(
sin 2 α1 cos α 2 − Z cos
Z −2.5
α0
cos α3 )
ka 2EL sin α 2
α2 (α 2 − α ) cos α sin 2 α1
+ ∫−α dα .
1
(
E 2L [ sin α + (α 2 − α ) cos α ] −
ΔA x
Rb ) (2.22)

The expression of α1 is given as [38]:


π
α1 = θ − − tan α0 + α0 +
2Z1 (2.23)

⎡ ⎤
⎢ Z1 cos α0 ⎥
tan ⎢ arccos ⎥,
⎢ ⎥

2 2 Z cos α
(Z2 + 2) + (Z2 + Z1) − 2 (Z2 + 2)(Z2 + Z1) cos arccos 2Z + 2 0 − α0
2
( ) ⎦
X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15 7

where Z1 and Z2 are the number of teeth of the driving gear and the driven gear, respectively, and θ is the rotation angle of
the driving gear and we define θ ¼0 when the pitted tooth starts to mesh.
As for the mating tooth of the pitted tooth, Eqs. (2.20) to (2.22) can still be used to calculate its mesh stiffness as long as it
is an external gear tooth. However, the expression of α1 is expressed as [38]:
⎛ Z cos α0 ⎞ π Z
α1 = tan ⎜ arccos 2 ⎟− − tan α0 + α0 − 1 θ .
⎝ Z2 + 2 ⎠ 2Z2 Z2 (2.24)

2.1.2. Hertzian contact stiffness


From the results derived by Yang and Sun [33], the Hertzian contact stiffness, kh , for a pair of perfect external gears, is linearized
to a constant along the entire line of action independent of both the position of contact and the depth of interpenetration.
πEL
kh = ,
4 (1 − ν 2) (2.25)

where E , L , ν denote Yong's modulus, tooth width and Poisson's ratio, respectively.
For a pair of gear with tooth pitting, the tooth contact width is L − ΔL x rather than L. Correspondingly, the Hertzian
contact stiffness for gear pairs with a circular tooth pit can be expressed as:
πE (L − ΔL x )
kh = ,
4 (1 − ν 2) (2.26)

where ΔL x represents the reduction of tooth contact width (see the expression in Eq. (2.14)).

2.2. Mesh stiffness derivation for gears with multiple tooth pits

In Section 2.1, we derived mesh stiffness equations for gears with a single circular tooth pit. These equations can be easily
extended to gears with multiple circular pits on a tooth. As long as the circular pits do not overlap with each other and all
the circles are within the tooth surface area, the Hertzian contact stiffness, bending stiffness, shear stiffness and axial
compressive stiffness can be obtained through Eqs. (2.27), (2.28), (2.29) and (2.30), respectively:
N
πE (L − ∑1 ΔL xj )
kh = ,
4 (1 − ν 2) (2.27)

⎡ (Z − 2.5) cos α1 cos α 3 ⎤ 3


⎣1 − ⎦ − (1 − cos α1 cos α 2 ) 3
1 Z cos α 0
=
kb 2EL cos α1 sin3 α 2
α2 {
3 1 + cos α1 [ (α 2 − α ) sin α − cos α ] }2 (α2 − α) cos α dα,
+ ∫−α 1 ⎛ N ΔIxj ⎞
E ⎜ 2L [ sin α + (α 2 − α ) cos α ]3 − 3 ∑1 ⎟
⎝ R b3 ⎠ (2.28)

1
=
1.2 (1 + ν)cos2 α1 cos α 2 − ( Z −2.5
Z cos α 0
cos α3 )
ks EL sin α 2
α2 1.2 (1 + ν )(α 2 − α ) cos α cos2 α1
+ ∫−α dα ,
1
(
E L [ sin α + (α 2 − α ) cos α ] − 0.5 ∑1
N ΔA xj
Rb ) (2.29)

1
=
(
sin 2 α1 cos α 2 − Z cos
Z −2.5
α0
cos α3 )
ka 2EL sin α 2
α2 (α 2 − α ) cos α sin 2 α1
+ ∫−α dα ,
1
(
E 2L [ sin α + (α 2 − α ) cos α ] − ∑1
N ΔA xj
Rb ) (2.30)

where N is the number of circular pits on a tooth surface; ΔL xj , ΔAxj and ΔIxj represent the reduction of tooth contact width,
area and area moment of inertia caused by the jth circular pit, respectively; ΔL xj , ΔAxj and ΔIxj can be obtained using Eqs.
(2.14), (2.15) and (2.16), respectively.
Users can apply these equations to evaluate the mesh stiffness of a gear pair at any given rotation angle even though they
are not familiar with gear mesh theories.
8 X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15

2.3. Overall mesh stiffness

In Sections 2.1 and 2.2, we have derived the mesh stiffness equations of Hertzian contact stiffness, bending stiffness,
shear stiffness and axial compressive stiffness, respectively. In this section, we will combine these stiffness components to
get the overall mesh stiffness of a pair of external gears.
For a pair of spur gears with contact ratio between 1 and 2, one pair and two pairs of tooth contacts take place alter-
natively. The single-tooth-pair duration and the double-tooth-pair duration of an external gear pair are expressed as the
rotation angular displacement of the driving gear as follows [19]:
⎡ 2π 2π ⎤
Single-tooth-pair duration: θ ∈ ⎣ (n − 1) Z + θd, n Z ⎦ (n = 1, 2, ⋯).
1 1

⎡ 2π 2π ⎤
Double-tooth-pair duration: θ ∈ ⎣ (n − 1) Z , (n − 1) Z + θd ⎦ (n = 1, 2, ⋯) where θ and Z1 denote the angular dis-
1 1

placement and the number of teeth of the driving gear, respectively, θd = (c − 1) Z1
, and c is the contact ratio. In this paper,
2θd +θs
the contact ratio of a pair of spur gears is calculated using the following equation c ¼ [39], where c represents the
θd +θs

contact ratio, and θd and θs denote angular displacements of the pinion in double-tooth-pair mesh duration and single-
tooth-pair mesh duration, respectively. The angular displacement θd can be obtained as [19]:

⎛ Z cos α0 ⎞ 2π
θd = tan ⎜ acos 1 ⎟− −
⎝ Z1 + 2 ⎠ Z1
⎡ ⎤
⎢ Z1 cos α0 ⎥
tan ⎢ acos ⎥
⎢ ⎥
⎣⎢
2 2 Z cos α
(Z2 + 2) + (Z1 + N2 ) − 2 (Z2 + 2)(Z1 + Z2 ) cos acos 2 Z + 2 0 − α0
2
( ) ⎥⎦ (2.31)

where Z2 is the number of teeth of the driven gear and α0 is the pressure angle.
For the single-tooth-pair meshing duration, the total effective mesh stiffness can be calculated as [18,19]:

1
kt = 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
,
kh
+ kb1
+ k s1
+ k a1
+ kb2
+ k s2
+ k a2 (2.32)

where subscripts 1 and 2 represent the driving gear and the driven gear, respectively.
For the double-tooth-pair meshing duration, there are two pairs of gears meshing at the same time. The total effective
mesh stiffness can be obtained as [18,19]:
2
1
k t = k t1 + k t 2 = ∑ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
,
i =1 k + + + + + +
h, i kb1, i k s1, i k a1, i kb2. i k s2, i k a2, i (2.33)

where i = 1 for the first pair and i = 2 for the second pair of meshing teeth.

3. Case study

This section aims to investigate the pitting effect on the gear mesh stiffness. Parameters of the external spur gear pair to
be investigated are listed in Table 1. The driving gear and the driven gear have the same geometry and material properties.
The gearbox transmission ratio is 1:1. The diameter of the inner bore of the two gears is 17.5 mm. To simulate pitting
damage, circular pits with a 2 mm diameter and the depth of 1 mm are created on the driving gear. The driven gear is
perfect. The number of pits is varied to mimic different levels of pitting damages.
Pitting generally initiates around the pitch line and then propagates to the whole tooth surface [6]. In this case study,
three pitting damage levels are defined: slight pitting, moderate pitting and severe pitting. Fig. 7 gives the schematic of the
three pitting levels of the driving gear. The definition of pitting damage levels is illustrated below:

Table 1
Main parameters of the gears [27].

Number of teeth Module (mm) Pressure angle Face width Young's modulus (Pa) Poisson's ratio Base circle radius Root circle radius
(mm) (mm) (mm)

19 3.2 20° 38.1 2.068  1011 0.3 28.3 26.2


X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15 9

2 mm
Pitch line
Tooth addendum
Tooth dedendum

Fig. 7. Schematic of 3 pitting damage levels (slight to severe – from top to bottom) on a tooth of the driving gear.

(1) Slight pitting: 10 circular pits centered on the tooth pitch line. The pitted tooth has a pitting area of 16.2% of the tooth
surface area. The tooth surface area is 194 mm2.
(2) Moderate pitting: 18 circular pits centered on the tooth pitch line. The pitted tooth has a pitting area of 29.2% of the
tooth surface area. From slight pitting to moderate pitting, we model the pitting propagating along tooth width. With
this setup, we can investigate the effect of pitting growth along tooth width on gear mesh stiffness.
(3) Severe pitting: 18 pits centered on the tooth pitch line and another 18 pits on the tooth addendum. The pitted tooth has
a pitting area of 58.4% of the tooth surface area. From moderate pitting to severe pitting, we model the pitting pro-
pagation along tooth length. With this setup, we can investigate the effect of pitting growth along tooth length on gear
mesh stiffness.

In this case study, we assume that the driven gear is perfect regardless of the pitting severity of the driving gear, and all
other teeth on the driving gear except the pitted tooth are perfect. Therefore, we will illustrate the effect of tooth pitting of
one tooth on the mesh stiffness. We will not cover the pitting on multiple teeth as the same procedures we illustrate here
for the one pitted tooth can be easily applied to other teeth.
As we stated in the first paragraph of Section 2.1: the position and size of a single pit can be fully expressed by three
variables: (u, r, δ ) where u represents the distance between the tooth root and the circle center of the pit, r is the radius of
the pit circle and δ is the pitting depth. For the gears with parameters listed in Table 1, the distance between the pitch line
and the tooth root is 4 mm. In addition, as stated in the first paragraph of Section 3, we model the pits with diameter of
2 mm and depth of 1mm. Therefore, the pit circles on the pitch line can be expressed by (4 mm, 1 mm, 1 mm) while the pit
circles above the pitch line can be expressed by (6 mm, 1 mm, 1 mm). Fig. 8 illustrates the detailed position and contact
information of the gear tooth for severe pitting. This tooth starts to mesh on line c1 of which the distance to the tooth root is
2.3 mm. Without loss of generality, we define the angular displacement of the driving gear at this moment is 0°(θ = 0°).
With the rotation of the driving gear, the pits on the pitch line come into meshing starting on line c2 of which the distance to
the tooth root is 3.0 (2.3 þ 0.7) mm. At this moment, the angular displacement of the driving gear is 7.4°. The pits on the

2.3 0.7 2.0 2.0 0.27


mm
c1 c2 c3
c4
c5
θ =0o c6

θ =7.4o
θ =19.7 o
θ =28.2o

θ =29.2o
Pitch line

Root Base
circle circle
Fig. 8. Position and contact information of the gear tooth with pits.
10 X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15

Fig. 9. Pitting effect on gear mesh stiffness.

pitch line finish meshing on line c4 of which the distance to the tooth root is 5.0 (2.3 þ0.7 þ2) mm. At this moment, the
angular displacement of the driving gear is 19.7°. Meanwhile, the pits on the addendum come into meshing on line c4. After
a while, the pits on the addendum leave meshing on line c5 of which the distance to the tooth root is 7.0
(2.3þ0.7 þ2 þ2) mm. At this moment, the angular displacement of the driving gear is 28.2. On line c6 of which the distance
to the tooth root is 7.27 (2.3 þ0.7 þ2 þ2þ 0.27) mm, this pitted tooth finish its meshing. At this moment, the angular dis-
placement of the driving gear is 29.2°. The position and contact information for slight pitting and moderate pitting can be
easily obtained based on the information for the severe pitting. We will not repeat the description for slight pitting or
moderate pitting.
For the spur gear pair used in this paper (see parameters in Table 1), θd + θs is equal to 18.95°, 2θd + θs is equal to 29.25°,
and the contact ratio is 1.54. In Fig. 9, the line near 29.2° indicates the angular displacement 2θd + θs .
The equations derived in Section 2 are used here to evaluate the mesh stiffness of the gear pair (see parameters in
Table 1) with tooth pitting. Fig. 9 gives the mesh stiffness results. Between 0° and 7.4° of the driving gear's angular dis-
placement, the gear mesh stiffness is not affected by the tooth pitting since there is no pitting in this tooth surface range
(between line c1 and line c2) for any of the three pitting levels. Between 7.4° and 19.7°, the pitted tooth surface (between line
c2 and line c4) corresponding to the pits on the pitch line is in meshing. The stiffness reduction increases in the beginning
and then decreases because ΔL x and correspondingly ΔAx and ΔIx first increase and then decrease with the increase of gear
rotation angle. This pattern applies to all the pitting levels. However, because the moderate pitting has more pits than the
slight pitting along the pitch line, the moderate pitting has a larger stiffness reduction than the slight pitting at any angle of
the driving gear among the range of 7.4° and 19.7°. The moderate pitting and the severe pitting have the same stiffness
reduction in this range since they have the same number of pits centered on the pitch line. Above 19.7°, there are no pits on
the tooth surface for slight pitting and moderate pitting. Only the severe pitting has 18 pits on the tooth addendum. In the
range of 19.7° and 28.2° of the driving gear, the mesh stiffness of slight pitting and moderate pitting decreases slightly due to
the pits centered on the pitch line, while, the severe pitting has a large stiffness reduction in this range mainly due to the
pitting on the tooth addendum. Between 28.2° and 29.2° of the driving gear, there is no pitting on any of the three pitting
severity levels, the gear mesh stiffness reduce slightly.
To quantify the pitting effect on gear mesh stiffness, the pitted tooth mesh duration is divided into three periods as
shown in Fig. 9. In the period 1, the pitted area has not come into meshing. In the period 2, the pits centered on the pitch line
are in meshing. In the period 3, the pits on the tooth addendum are in meshing. For each period, we calculated the averaged
mesh stiffness under perfect condition and faulty condition, respectively. The averaged mesh stiffness under perfect con-
dition is denoted by kt −perfect while that under faulty condition is represented by kt −faulty . The mesh stiffness reduction Δ− kt
is measured using the following equation:

Table 2
Mesh stiffness reduction cased by tooth pitting.

Pitting level Mesh stiffness reduction (%)

Period 1 Period 2 Period 3

Slight pitting 0 12.7 1.1


Moderate pitting 0 33.9 1.8
Severe pitting 0 33.9 17.8
X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15 11

(a) ht (b) ht

Fig. 10. Two pits on a tooth surface (a) symmetrically distributed along tooth width (b) un-symmetrically distributed along tooth width.

Δ− kt = ((kt −perfect − kt −faulty)/kt −perfect ) × 100%. (3.1)

Table 2 summarized mesh stiffness reduction caused by the tooth pitting. In the period 1, there is no stiffness reduction
since the pits are not involved in meshing yet. In the period 2, the slight pitting has a reduction of 12.7% while the moderate
pitting and the severe pitting both have a reduction of 33.9%. The stiffness reduction amount is the same for the moderate
pitting and the severe pitting because they have the same pitting profile in the period 1 and period 2. In the period 3, the
stiffness reduction of slight pitting and moderate pitting is very small (under 2%) because there are no pits involved in
meshing in this period. The small amount of stiffness reduction is caused by the pits centered on the pitch line. The stiffness
reduction of the severe pitting in the period 3 is 17.8%. In the period 2, a pair of teeth (one is perfect and the other one has
pits) are in meshing. In the period 3, two pairs of teeth (three teeth are perfect and the fourth one has pits) are in meshing.
The period 3 has more perfect teeth involved in meshing than the period 2. This explains the difference of stiffness re-
duction in the period 2 and the period 3 for the severity pitting (33.9% vs. 17.8%) even though both periods have the same
number of pits.
Fig. 10 shows two cases (cases (a) and (b)) of two circular pits on a gear tooth surface. The case (a) has two pits sym-
metrically distributed along tooth width while the case (b) has two pits un-symmetrically distributed along tooth width.
The method proposed in this paper will generate the same mesh stiffness for these two cases. The effect of pitting dis-
tribution along tooth width direction on the mesh stiffness is not covered in this study. This will be our future work.

4. Comparison with a finite element model

To validate the mesh stiffness equations derived in this paper, the mesh stiffness of the same gear pair used in Section 3 is
evaluated in this section using the finite element method (FEM) for comparison. The parameters of the gears are listed in
Table 1. A 3D finite element model is built and shown in Fig. 11. The gear is modeled using the element type SOLID185. The
element shape of the gear body and the perfect gear teeth is mapped hexahedral while that of the pitted tooth is tetrahedral.
The tetrahedral shape is chosen for the pitted tooth as it can model complicated pitting profile. Six teeth are refined when
the middle one or two teeth are in meshing. The gear body is modeled a rigid body to be consistent with the proposed
model in Section 2. In order to model a rigid gear body in ANSYS, Young's modulus for gear body is set to be 1000 times
larger than that for gear teeth. This setting can generate good simulation results without adding computation burden. In our

Fig. 11. A 3D finite element model built in Ansys.


12 X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15

Fig. 12. Pitting damage modeling (slight to severe – from left to right).

finite element model, linear analysis is adopted by assuming gear material is linearly elastic. Linear analysis means [40] “The
displacement response U of a structure is a linear function of the applied load vector R; i.e., if the loads are αR instead of R,
where α is a constant, the corresponding displacements are αU.” To perform linear analysis, mesh nodes of the pinion and
the gear are coupled. In this way, we do not need to use contact elements in our finite element model [41].
The same pitting levels are modeled in the driving gear using the FEM as did in the case study. The three pitting levels
modeled using FEM are given in Fig. 12. The driven gear is assumed to be perfect regardless of the pitting level of the driving
gear. Each pitting level is modeled in the same way as we did in Section 3. Circular pits with diameter of 2mm and depth of
1mm are used to mimic the pits. The exact location of the circular pits is given in Fig. 7.
The driven gear bore is fixed while a torque is applied on the driving gear bore. The gear mesh stiffness is calculated as
follows [42]:
T
kt = ,
θ T Rb2 (4.1)

where T is torque applied on the driving gear bore, Rb is the base circle radius of the gear and θ T is the angular displacement
of the gear base circle. Each node of element Solid185 has three DOFs (ux, uy and uz). All the nodes on the driving gear bore

Fig. 13. Mesh stiffness comparison between the proposed method and FEM.
X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15 13

Table 3
Mesh stiffness comparison.

Pitting level Averaged difference (%)

Single-tooth-pair Double-tooth-pair mesh


mesh period periods

Perfect 0.9 0.4


Slight pitting 6.3 0.6
Moderate pitting 7.8 1.5
Severe pitting 7.9 4.1

are constrained to move only in the uy direction which is in a cylindrical coordinate system and tangential to the gear bore.
u
The angular displacement of each node on the bore is calculated to be y , where r is the radius of the gear bore. The angular
r
displacement of the gear bore is calculated to be the averaged angular displacement of all the nodes on the gear bore. Since
the gear body is rigid, the angular displacement of the gear bore is equal to the angular displacement of the gear base circle
(θ T ).
Fig. 13 gives the mesh stiffness comparison results between the proposed method and the finite element method. In our
finite element model, the meshing lines (along the tooth width) of the pinion and the gear at a mesh position are pre-
defined. For each mesh position, we refine the mesh grid around the meshing lines, then, the nodes on a meshing line of the
pinion are coupled with the nodes on the corresponding meshing line of the gear. In this way, we can reduce the com-
putation error and get a smooth gear mesh stiffness curve in our finite element model. Table 3 summarizes the mesh
stiffness differences. The mesh stiffness difference is measured using the averaged mesh stiffness in the single-tooth-pair
mesh period and the averaged mesh stiffness in the double-tooth-pair mesh period. The averaged mesh stiffness difference
δ−kt is defined as follows:
⎛ L M M ⎞
∑l = 1 kt1l ∑ kt2m ∑m = 1 kt2m ⎟
δ−kt = ⎜ − m=1 / × 100%,
⎜ L M M ⎟
⎝ ⎠ (4.2)

where kt1 and kt2 are the mesh stiffness calculated using the proposed method and FEM, respectively, and L and M represent
the mesh stiffness data points collected during the same angular displacement of a gear using the proposed method and
FEM, respectively.
In the perfect condition, the mesh stiffness results from the potential energy method and the finite element method
match well with an averaged difference of less than 1%. With the growth of pitting, the mesh stiffness difference between
these two methods increases. The severity pitting owns the largest difference among the three pitting levels. For the se-
verity pitting, the averaged difference in the single-tooth-pair mesh period is 7.9% while that in the double-tooth-pair mesh
period is 4.1%. Another aspect is that the averaged mesh stiffness difference in the single-tooth-pair mesh period is larger
than that in the double-tooth-pair mesh period. In the single-tooth-pair mesh period, a pair of teeth (one is perfect and the
other one has pits) are in meshing. In the double-tooth-pair mesh period, two pairs of teeth (three teeth are perfect and the
fourth one has pits) are in meshing. More perfect teeth involved in the gear meshing, the smaller mesh stiffness difference
since the mesh stiffness difference in the perfect condition is the smallest. Overall, the mesh stiffness equations derived in
this paper can be used to estimate the mesh stiffness of gears with tooth pitting if certain uncertainty of the mesh stiffness is
allowed.

5. Summary and conclusion

This study provides an analytical way to evaluate the mesh stiffness of gears with tooth pitting. The pitting is ap-
proximated using circular pits. A single pit is uniquely described by its location, radius and depth. The number of pits is to
mimic the severity of the pitting. Equations are derived to evaluate the mesh stiffness of gears with a single pit or multiple
pits on a gear tooth using the potential energy method. A case study is given to illustrate the relationship between pitting
severity and mesh stiffness. Three pitting levels are considered: slight pitting, moderate pitting and severe pitting. This
proposed method is compared with finite element method. The averaged difference of the mesh stiffness between these
two methods is within 8%. The proposed work has the potential to be used for the investigation of the pitting effects on the
dynamics and vibration properties of gears with tooth pitting.
We have noticed that the fillet foundation deflection has been incorporated in mesh stiffness evaluation of gears in some
published papers, for example, Refs. [1,23,34,35]. In all these papers, the fillet foundation deflection was evaluated using Eq.
(17) of Ref. [43]. However, the fillet foundation deflection is not considered in this study for two reasons. First, Eq. (17) of Ref.
[43] was derived assuming linear and constant stress variations at the root circle. This assumption confined Eq. (17) to be
usable only for large gears [43]. Second, Eq. (17) of Ref. [43] was derived for a gear with a single tooth in meshing. However,
for a pair of spur gears, one pair and two pairs of tooth contact take place alternatively. Eq. (17) was not validated to be
14 X. Liang et al. / Mechanism and Machine Theory 106 (2016) 1–15

accurate for the case of two pairs of teeth meshing simultaneously. The above two problems were not solved in Refs.
[1,23,34,35]. Therefore, we did not consider the fillet foundation deflection in this study since there are no mature equations
to use right now. One of our future research topics is to investigate fillet foundation deflections under more realistic
meshing conditions. The effects of un-symmetric distribution of pits also deserve further investigation.

Acknowledgment

This research is supported by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Canada [Grant no. RGPIN-
2015-04897]; the International S&T Cooperation Program of China, China [Grant no. 2015DFA71400]; the China Scholarship
Council, China [Grant no. 201406125113]; the ConocoPhillips Canada Limited Graduate Scholarship, Canada; and the
American Gear Manufacturers Association Foundation Scholarship, USA.

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