A rack and pinion is a type of linear actuator that comprises a circular gear (the pinion) engaging a linear gear (the rack), which operates to translate rotational motion into linear motion.
Rack-and-pinion drives are often overlooked as past-generation technology with limited positioning accuracy. New-generation rack-and-pinion systems offer high dynamic performance and unlimited travel distance. Some include premium servo gears and actuators with backlash less than 1 arc-min., efficiency to 98.5%, and far more compact sizes than standard servomotor-gear combinations.
Typical rack-and-pinion applications include gantry, transport, and packaging machines that carry from a few pounds up to several tons. Next-generation rack-and-pinion sets are also used in woodworking, high-speed metal cutting, and assembly machines.
Rack and Pinion are basically divided into 2 categories: Straight and Helical. Straight Teeth Racks are used in general applications with regular speeds, while helical racks are used for more precise applications where the speed is also more and the load is also more.
All the racks and pinions are differentiated by the module. “Module” is the unit of size that indicates how big or small a gear is. It is the ratio of the reference diameter of the gear divided by the number of teeth. Higher module accounts for higher forces and rigidity. Refer to the below diagram of forces accounted for in the straight and helical racks.
Racks are also differentiated based in the material, process and quality. Q6, Q7 and Q9, Q6 being the best quality for high end applications, Q7 for standard and Q9 for basic applications. Quality can also be described based on the process i.e. hardened, ground or milled.
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