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Power and precision

21 August 2023

Mike Gulliford looks at the advantages and applications of hypoid gearboxes

Hypoid gearboxes have become increasingly popular, providing exceptional performance in the transfer of power and torque between components. What sets hypoid gearboxes apart from other gearboxes is their unique design and the superior performance characteristics it provides. Widely used in a range of applications, including automotive systems, renewable power generation and heavy machinery, we will look at the key performance advantages that make hypoid gearboxes the preferred choice in a range of different scenarios.

At Apex Dynamics UK, we have recently expanded our range to include hypoid gearboxes. This is a natural progression to enhance our offering to customers, providing a wider range of products and potential performance applications. Our new high efficiency BKM Series of high precision hypoid gearboxes offers high torque, superior accuracy, excellent radial load capacity and low backlash, all in a compact design that is fully compatible with any motor.

What is a hypoid gearbox?

Hypoid gearboxes are a type of spiral bevel gearbox. In contrast to traditional bevel gearboxes, they have non-intersecting axes, meaning they are not parallel, but rather are offset from one another. This provides them with hyperbolic rather than conical geometry.

Due to the tooth design, there is a greater contact area, meaning higher torques and gear ratios are possible, delivering greater precision. Hypoid gearboxes are compact and also offer smoother running properties, have quiet operation and can achieve lower backlash ratings than traditional bevel or worm type gearboxes. They tend to be used where speeds exceed 1000 rpm, or for lower speed applications that demand extreme smoothness or quietness.

Growing demand

Although hypoid gearboxes are currently a relatively small segment of the overall precision gear market, it is likely to grow faster than the general rate as a range of industries continue to see the benefits of the technology. This includes high-growth sectors such as robotics and automation. Recent research by industrial automation market specialist Interact Analysis forecasts the precision gear products market will expand by a compound annual growth rate of 7.7% between 2022 and 2027, climbing from $3.6 billion to $5.2 billion.

Key applications

A range of industry sectors employ hypoid gearboxes in a variety of applications. Some of the key markets for hypoid gears are outlined below, along with the main benefits each industry derives from their use.

1. Automotive industry

Hypoid gearboxes provide unmatched performance to the automotive industry when it comes to power transmission and are often used in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive systems to ensure efficient torque transfer between the engine and the drive wheels. For the automotive industry, hypoid gearboxes deliver:

- Improved mechanical efficiency compared with traditional bevel gearboxes. This means that energy losses during power transfer are reduced and the fuel economy of vehicles is increased

- A compact design, allowing for optimal use of the available chassis, and more versatile, space-efficient designs

- Enhanced noise and vibration control as a result of the unique gear tooth geometry and offset pinion design, which facilitates smooth and quiet operation of hypoid gears. This reduces noise and vibration levels within vehicles and enhances the overall driving experience.

2. Industrial Machinery

Hypoid gearboxes are used extensively in heavy-duty machinery that requires the transmission of high torque loads, with key advantages including:

- High torque capacity and the ability to withstand heavy-shock loads without compromising performance, making hypoid gearboxes ideal for heavy machinery such as mining equipment, backhoe loaders, excavators, cranes and conveyors

- Increased gearbox durability and longer service life, due to the meshing of hypoid gears generating a large contact area to distribute the load evenly. This reduces wear and tear and enhances the ability to endure challenging working conditions

- Versatile mounting options, allowing for greater flexibility in machinery design and adaptation to a variety of space constraints because of multiple mounting options.
Smoother and quieter operation as a result of the unique tooth geometry of hypoid gears, making them suitable for construction environments with noise restrictions.

3. Robotics and automation

Industrial robots present the greatest opportunity for the precision gear products market because of the precise controlled movements required, Interact Analysis research shows. The market analyst forecasts the market value of gearboxes sold into the industrial robots market will leap from $1 billion in 2021 to $1.9 billion in 2027. Hypoid gearboxes offer superior precision and efficiency, making them a good choice for robotic and automation systems, and key benefits include:

- High positional accuracy, as the low backlash provided by hypoid gearboxes ensures precise positioning and makes them suitable for robotics applications requiring precision motor control

- Reduced maintenance due to the improved efficiency and durability of hypoid gearboxes minimizing the need for frequent maintenance and lubrication, delivering cost savings and increased uptime for automated systems

- Enhanced efficient power transmission at various gear ratios, facilitating the dynamic movement and manipulation of robotic arms.

4. Renewable energy systems

Hypoid gearboxes are proving popular with the renewable energy sector because of their efficient energy conversion and reliable power transmission. They are increasingly being used in applications such as wind turbines and solar tracking systems, with key advantages including:

- The ability to handle significant forces generated by rotating blades

- Low noise and vibration characteristics.

5. Power tools

Popular applications for hypoid gearboxes also include power tools such as circular saws, angle grinders and worm drive saws, where gearboxes are needed for the efficient transfer of power from the motor to the grinding or cutting elements. Performance advantages include:

- Increased power output, which enables power tools to handle tough materials and demanding cutting tasks

- Cooling efficiency, providing better lubrication and cooling to reduce maintenance requirements and prolong tool life

- High power-to-weight ratio to assist with the production of more portable and user-friendly tools.

Looking ahead

Hypoid gearboxes have established themselves as a popular choice in a wide range of industries and applications due to their unique design and exceptional performance advantages. They offer efficiency, compact design, enhanced durability, and precise motor control. Hypoid gearboxes are likely to evolve further, finding their way into new applications as the technology develops and companies are won over by the increased productivity, reduced maintenance costs and overall performance improvements they deliver.

For us, introducing our new range of hypoid gearboxes, with a variety of mounting, input and output options, was a natural extension for existing and new customers that allows us to become even more competitive and keep up with market trends. Anyone purchasing a hypoid gearbox from Apex Dynamics UK is able to take full advantage of our five-year warranty, excellent lead times and high levels of customer service.

Mike Gulliford is managing director at Apex Dynamics UK


Key Points

  • Apex Dynamics UK's BKM Series of high precision hypoid gearboxes offers high torque, accuracy and capacity
  • Hypoid gearboxes can achieve lower backlash ratings than traditional bevel or worm type gearboxes
  • They are used extensively in heavy-duty machinery that requires the transmission of high torque loads