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Wear-resistant 3D printed gears

Switch gears now: up to 80% more wear-resistant than conventional plastics


► No downtime: calculate gear service life online
► Fast manufacturing: ready to ship in three days
► No minimum order quantity: from 1 to 10,000 pieces


Gear CAD configurator

Configure gear CAD online

No CAD model at hand? With our gear configurator, you can create a gear model with individual dimensions in less than 60 seconds.

Configure gear CAD

Free gear sample

Order gear sample

Still not convinced? See for yourself: we will gladly send you a free gear sample.
 

Request sample part now

Gear service life calculator

Calculate gear service life

How long does a 3D printed gear last? Simply enter the parameters of the application and then calculate the foreseeable service life with just a few clicks of the mouse.

To the service life calculator

Plastic gears on the test rig

Tested and proven: iglidur gears have five times the service life of machined gears made of standard plastics.

All polymer gear performance numbers come from the test rigs in our test laboratory. Here you can find the test results for iglidur 3D printing materials based on various components.
 
What material is better for what type of gear? 

  • iglidur I3  is characterised by higher strength, is especially well-suited for spur gears and helical-bevel gears, and can be used  for all other kinds of wear-resistant gears.
  • iglidur I6  has optimised sliding properties and is therefore ideal for worm gears or other gears where conformity with food standards is required.
  • iglidur I8-ESD is suited to gears that require ESD properties, such as those used in ATEX machines

 
Gear test: cycles until gear breakage
iglidur I3 (laser sintered) vs. POM (machined)

In this test, a gear drives a rack, and the number of cycles completed before the gear breaks is recorded. Gears 3D printed or laser sintered from iglidur lasted five times as long as gears milled from POM.
 
Pivoting 1440°: n = 64rpm, M = 2.25Nm, z = 30, m = 1, b = 6.5mm
 
  • POM (machined)
  • iglidur I3 (laser sintering) 

Plastic gear comparison test Y-axis: cycles to breakage

Very high efficiency for 3D printed gears made of high-performance polymer

Planetary gearbox efficiency testing showed that gears laser sintered from iglidur I3 had efficiency in dry operation comparable to that of oil-lubricated metallic planetary gearboxes. How can that be? The solid lubricants contained in iglidur polymers greatly reduce the coefficient of friction so that dry-operating 3D printed iglidur gears achieve an efficiency that is only slightly lower than that of lubricated metal gears. Integrated lubrication greatly reduces maintenance effort.
 
Test procedure: the gearboxes are tested on a dynamometer. The gearbox is driven by a stepper motor and an electromagnetic brake. Measuring systems in the power train continuously measure the angular position at the gearbox input and output. This allows us to gather efficiency, torque fluctuation, and backlash performance data in practical torque and speed ranges.

Planetary gearbox efficiency of a 3D printed gear made of iglidur® I3 laser sintering polymer X-axis: torque in Nm, Y-axis: efficiency in %. Installation size 17, suitable for NEMA17 stepper motors

Planetary gearbox transmission 4:1 with iglidur I3 gears in dry operation

Extremely long service life of worm gears with optimised sliding properties

Test parameters:

  • Torque: 4.9Nm
  • Speed: 12rpm
  • Counter partner: hard anodised aluminium
  • Duration: two months
Evaluation
► POM (machined): complete failure after 621,000 cycles
► iglidur I6 (sintered): low wear after one million cycles

Customer application examples

3D printed polymer gears in use

3D printing service design guide

Design tips for 3D printed threads

Guidelines for 3D printed gears

Gear brochure download

New: injection-moulded iglidur gears

Gears that are cost-effectively injection moulded from xirodur B180 require no additional lubricant.  
 
Advantages at a glance 

  • Cost-effective thanks to injection moulding
  • Maintenance-free thanks to the iglidur® materials used
  • Long service life
  • Very low coefficient of friction

iglidur B180 gear

Types of gears

With the igus 3D printing service, every type of wear-resistant and self-lubricating gear drive can be produced quickly and independently of mechanical tools. In addition to conventional models such as spur gears, worm wheels and bevel gears, the laser sintering procedure with iglidur materials works very well for elliptical gears, crown gears, racks, worm gears and much more.  

Spur gear

3D printed spur gear

Recommended material: iglidur I3

Worm wheel

3D printed worm wheel

Recommended material: iglidur I6

Bevel gear

3D printed bevel gear

Recommended material: iglidur I3


Information about 3D printing at igus

About 3D printing at igus

  • Materials
  • Additive procedures
  • Service and support

3D printed polymers put to the test

Other wear tests

3D printing with iglidur compared to PLA, ABS and other materials and manufacturing processes
 

FAQ: 3D printed gears made of iglidur polymers

What type of lubricant should be used for 3D printed gears?
► You do not need a lubricant for 3D printed gears made of iglidur polymers. The gear already contains lubricant.

Does wear have an effect on the estimated service life displayed in the online service life calculator?
► Unlike the situation for bearings, wear is not the biggest problem for gears. For gears, the question is when the teeth will break off. That determines a gear's service life.

What tolerance does the laser sintering process achieve? How great is the precision of these 3D printed parts?
► Tolerance depends on part dimensions. Parts up to 50mm have a tolerance of ± 0.1mm. Parts larger than 50mm have a tolerance of ± 0.2%. These values apply to non-reworked parts.

To ensure a good fit, should the hole be made smaller and the gear pressed on?
► For the dimensioning of the fit on your shaft, it is necessary to know how torque is transmitted and what mechanism is used. If the shaft is 10x10mm, for example, a tolerance limit of 10.1mm would work for your gear.

Does the gear service life calculator work with small gears (with 12 teeth, for example)?
► Our calculation tool works only for gears with at least 17 teeth. Less than 17 teeth would require undercut information for the calculation, and our calculator has no option for adding or using it. If you need a gear with fewer than 17 teeth, contact your igus representative.

Can threads be cut into a part printed from iglidur?
► Yes, you can machine the parts if you need to.

How much abrasion is there? Do you account for any type of lubrication in your service life calculation?
► Our gear service life calculation assumes that there is no additional lubrication.

Can small worms and worm wheels be 3D printed?
► Our minimum wall thickness is about 0.7mm. If necessary, we can go as low as 0.5mm. We can manufacture small worms and worm gears. If you have high loads, you will need metallic worm shafts.

Can teeth be adjusted (profile adjustment)?
► We can print parts for which the teeth have been adjusted. This is not currently reflected in our configurator. If you need such gears and have no capability for designing them, don't hesitate to contact us.

Are the 5Nm applied to the tooth tangentially?
► The 5Nm are applied to the entire gear, not to the teeth.

Is there a tool for generating the gear/tooth geometry (input module, number of teeth)?
► You can use our gear configurator to create your gear

Is there a price advantage for reduced 3D printing volumes?
► There is a small advantage if you do not consider the printing volume.

Are iglidur 3D printing materials for FDM suited only to prototypes, or do they perform well enough to be used as functional parts?
► iglidur FDM materials are good for bearings and other wear-resistant parts. Gears made of our laser sintering materials have a much longer service life.

Are machine tapers an option, or do the solid lubricants pose a problem?
► The finished product can be machined like any conventional plastic.

Can I buy iglidur filaments to use in my own printer?
► Yes, you can buy the filament online. Pay attention to the processing instructions, since many of our filaments require closed and/or high-temperature printers

Is there a lower size limit?
► Our minimum wall thickness is 0.7mm. If we need to, we can go as low as 0.5mm, but we normally recommend a minimum of 0.7mm.

Is there test data about wear that compares 3D printed igus gears to other machined plastic gears?
► We have tested many gears made of various POMs and other machined gears such as PPT, but the results were not better than those for POM in any respect.

Is there an optimum shaft-hub connection for parts printed in 3D? I can imagine that a feather key would not be ideal due to the stress concentration.
► The general rule for 3D-printed or polymer bearings is: if the application and load are not very great, the parts can be made of polymer. This rule also works very well for parts printed in 3D. But if the load or surface speed is very high, there comes a point at which the application will work only with a metal part running against a polymer part. At a certain point, it is better to have a metallic shaft because it conducts the heat from the tribological system better. Then the smaller gear should be made of metal because it is always the one with the greater load. The larger gear can be made of polymer, so the system remains without lubrication.

How can gear materials be best combined?
► Both gears can be made of polymer and our service life calculator used to determine the point at which the system stops functioning well. There will be a point at which polymer gears no longer function well because the load is too high.

Doesn't the laser sintering/FDM heat affect the self-lubrication?
► No, it doesn't. The solid lubricants are not affected by the heat. The same is true for injection moulding and bar stock materials, which also experience intense heat briefly during the manufacturing process without losing their self-lubricating properties.

Can metal gears be replaced by 3D printed iglidur gears?
► Metallic gears can handle higher loads that polymer ones can. If you have a metal gear that is reaching the limits of what a metal gear can do, you cannot replace it with a polymer gear. That would require a gear three or four times the current size. But if the metallic gear is not at the limit of what metallic material can do, you can, of course, replace it with a polymer gear, and then you have a system that requires no external lubrication and for which you can receive any type of gear very quickly. You can use our service life calculator to determine whether this is the case for your application or not.

Are printed gears solid?
► All parts printed at igus are solid, so they are 100% polymer and can be reworked. We produce solid parts because they are used as gears, bearings and whatever else in machines, and must therefore have the highest possible stability. You can, of course, also design lightweight components to reduce weight. If that is what you want, let us know, and then we won't print solid gears.

What roughness does 3D printing achieve?
► Sintered material is fairly rough, but smooths quickly during use, and the roughness does not impair the printed part's performance.


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