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BACKLASH IN GEARS

    In general, backlash in gears is play between mating teeth. For purpose of measurement and calculation, backlash is defined as the amount by which a tooth space exceeds the thickness of an engaging tooth. It does not include the effect of center-distance changes of the mountings and variations in bearings. When not otherwise specified, numerical values of backlash are understood to be given on the pitch circles.

    The general purpose of backlash is to prevent gears from jamming together and making contact on both sides  of their teeth simultaneously. Lack of backlash may cause noise, overloading, overheating of the gears and bearings, and even seizing and failure.

    Excessive backlash is objectionable, particularly if the drive is frequently reversing, or if there is an overrunning load as in can drives. On the other hand, specification of an unnecessarily small amount of backlash allowance will increase the cost of gears because errors in run-out, pitch, profile, and mounting must be held correspondingly smaller. Backlash in no way affects involute action and usually is not detrimental to proper gear action.

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Last modified: October 02, 2001