Did you know that because of the development of plastic materials and correct molding processes, plastic gears are slowly finding their way into the market and are beginning to replace metal gears? With these new technologies, gears are becoming larger and stronger, and more complex shapes are emerging.

With that comes the debate about whether plastic gears can replace metal gears. Read on to find out more and learn how to select the right gear for your needed application!

Advantages of Plastic Gears

Most people think of plastic as a soft material that would break easily and can’t handle much stress when it’s applied. This is not the case, and many people may find it amazing that plastic has lots of tensile strength, way beyond what you might think. For example, nylon creep time limits far exceed many others.

With new technology and injection-molded plastic, plastic gears are slowly replacing metal gears in everyday items such as food processes and medical equipment. If you are inclined to go the way of the plastic, then you would find the following advantages:

  1. Reduced noise
  2. Lightweight
  3. Corrosion-resistant
  4. Lower cost
  5. Good shock absorption

The benefits of plastic gears are immense, particularly when it comes to analyzing the costs versus other expensive materials.

Advantages of Metal Gears

Known for its strength and durability, metal has stood the test of time and is the go-to material for larger hard-working gear systems. The advantages are there for everybody to see, and they are as follows:

  1. Robust
  2. Can handle loads of tensile strength
  3. Durable
  4. Can be lubricated effectively

Which Material to Use?

The answer to that question will all depend on what you want to use the gearing system for. Plastic, for instance, will be better served for smaller applications and more intricate gearing systems that you want to be silent.

However, you would use a metal gearing system for larger applications that will be working hard and continuously. Each gearing system does come with varied limitations, and you will need to know them in order to make the correct decision.

Plastic gears are limited by the following:

  • Lower load carrying capacity
  • Dimensional stability
  • Mould is costly to develop
  • Can be affected by some chemicals

Metal also has a number of limitations, such as the following:

  • Not suitable for larger velocities
  • Not suitable for transmitting motion over long distances
  • Can be noisy
  • Little flexibility

Plastic Is the Future

Some people would say that metal has had its day and plastic gears are taking over. This may be true to a certain extent, but metal gears still have a future in the gearing industry even if plastic is the future.

Choosing which material to use for your application shouldn’t be done in haste, as the ramifications of making the wrong selection could be huge.

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