MRO Magazine

Gear bearing technology developed by NASA can be licensed

Greenbelt, MD -- NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has made a revolutionary gear bearing technology patente...


February 1, 2008
By MRO Magazine

Greenbelt, MD — NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has made a revolutionary gear bearing technology patented in 2003 available for licensing. This technology represents a mechanical architecture breakthrough by combining gear and bearing functions into a single unit that significantly improves gear drives across the board for electrical, internal combustion, and turbine motors.

The gear bearing design incorporates rifle-true anti-backlash, improved thrust bearing performance, and phase-tuning techniques for superior low-speed reduction. Because it combines gear and bearing functions, it reduces weight, number of parts, size, and cost, while also increasing load capacity and performance.


According to NASA, wherever gears and/or bearings are used, the gear bearing technology can perform better, while also creating a more compact package that is simpler and stronger. Benefits include:


* Precise control: Rifle-true anti-backlash produces a planetary transmission with zero backlash, resulting in smoother operation and superior control.

* Improved thrust bearing: Gear teeth design give superior thrust bearing performance.

* Unprecedented speed reduction: Through phase tuning, a one-tooth difference between ground and output rings is possible, creating opportunities for significant reduction ratios at both low and high speeds (from 0.5:1 to >2,000:1).

* Less noise and vibration: More evenly distributed planet loading reduces cyclic loading and rough spots, reducing noise and vibration.

* Fewer fatigue failures: Reduced cyclic loading decreases susceptibility to fatigue failures.

* Low cost, simple design: Gear bearings combine gear and bearing functions to reduce materials and cost, while also reducing weight and simplifying the design.

* High strength: Gear bearings are more structurally rigid and provide higher overall load capacity compared to fixed planetary designs.

* Versatile: Gear bearings can be applied to many types of motions, including linear, rotary or motion hybrids.

* Enables all-electric actuator systems: By providing all-electric actuators that would replace their hydraulic counterparts and the hydraulic support systems, gear bearings can eliminate hydraulics in cars, airplanes, missiles, ships, shop machinery, manufacturing facilities, etc.


Gear bearings can be used as fixed mechanical advantage speed reducers in many applications.

* Transportation (including automotive, aircraft, marine, and rail): Transmissions, electric windows, windshield wipers, steering mechanisms, alternators/generators, engines and propellers, control systems, landing gear, door openers, rudders/steering/leveling controls, winches, rail switching systems

* Power tools: Chain saws, log splitters, power drills, car jacks, screwdrivers, powered winches, etc.

* Industrial machinery: Power presses, lathes and grinders, slitting and rolling equipment, construction equipment, lifting and handling equipment.

* Farm equipment: Tractors, harvesters, hay rollers.

For more information, e-mail E-mail:; for details on how the technology works, see the full article at