A closer look at Harmonic Drive's WavePlus technology

Sometimes, you only need one small innovation to make something revolutionary. Sliced bread, for example, simply took a stroke of inspiration for Otto Rohwedder to combine automatic bread wrapping equipment with cutting functionality. Here, Graham Mackrell, managing director of precision gearing expert Harmonic Drive UK, explains WavePlus technology, an innovative development in strain wave gearing.

The strain wave gear has been the pinnacle of precision gearing since the technology was first developed in 1957 by renowned inventor and founder of Harmonic Drive, Walton Musser. Consisting of just three crucial components - the wave generator, flexspline and the circular spline - and ensuring zero backlash as well as a high gear reduction ratio, strain wave gears have long been the standard for critical applications.

However, the changing face of industry in recent years has driven increasing demand for highly precise large hollow shaft gears. Here, the bore of the gear can be used for running power cables or data lines through.

This kind of innovation is absolutely critical for many complex applications that require digital functionality. For example, surgical robots require a constant power supply to operate. Due to the location of the precision gears in the axis of the robot, it is essential that power lines can pass through easily and safely.

Making designs and processes more convenient is a powerful catalyst for innovation. After all, sliced bread was conceived purely to address the minute irritation of manual slicing. Similarly, the lack of hollow shaft in strain wave gears prompted the development of WavePlus technology.

Traditionally, the wave generator of a strain wave gear is made up of a specially designed ball bearing. This bearing is necessary for the wave generator to rotate precisely, but due to its shape, it is impossible to include a large hollow shaft in the design.

WavePlus addresses this issue by redesigning the strain wave gear to use a specially designed needle bearing. This needle bearing uses cylindrical rollers with very small diameters, capable of providing the same precise motion but with a significantly reduced footprint that allows for a wider central shaft diameter.

Something as straightforward as this adjustment revolutionises the way that high-precision gearing is delivered to the aerospace, medical and military sectors. It is a design that has worked well for Harmonic Drive's recently launched IridiumLine component sets, which have shaft diameters of up to 60 per cent of the gear size. The technology also enhances the company's ability to offer bespoke designs for customers.

WavePlus technology is an advancement that reinvents the strain wave gear principle for increasingly technical demands of today's modern applications. While it is only a small change, for modern engineers this may be the greatest development since sliced bread. Go to harmonicdrive.de/en/home for more information.

Harmonic Drive

Unit 36, Wolseley Court
Staffordshire Technology Park
Stafford
ST18 0GA
UNITED KINGDOM

+44 (0)1785 245190

info@harmonicdrive.co.uk

www.harmonicdrive.co.uk

More from Harmonic Drive

High-precision strain wave gearing suits handling systems

Posted 3 years ago

Three things industry can learn from new robotic standards

Posted 4 years ago

Cobots, high precision and the Internet of Robot Things (IoRT)

Posted 5 years ago

Gears for packaging machines

Posted 5 years ago

Overcoming the challenges of the packaging industry

Posted 5 years ago

Specialised gears for an eye in the sky

Posted 5 years ago

IridiumLine: Extreme gear with large hollow shaft

Posted 5 years ago

Harmonic Drive UK to exhibit at 2016 Engineering Design Show

Posted 5 years ago

New high-torque gears feature extended temperature range

Posted 5 years ago

Collaborative technology is improving how we work with robots

Posted 5 years ago

Compact servo actuator drives down design costs

Posted 5 years ago

The future of robotics: Harmonic Drive at Drives & Controls 2016

Posted 5 years ago

Harmonic Drive to exhibit at Oceanology International 2016

Posted 6 years ago

The gears of exploration from Harmonic Drive

Posted 6 years ago

Robotics key to making the most of our surgeons

Posted 6 years ago

Harmonic Drive establishes specialist teams to support customers

Posted 6 years ago

TorkDrive torque motor range provides high torque at low speeds

Posted 6 years ago

Harmonic Drive to exhibit at Engineering Design Show

Posted 6 years ago

Customisable drives for precision applications

Posted 6 years ago

High accuracy for defence event: Harmonic Drive at DSEI

Posted 6 years ago

Planetary performance increases accuracy

Posted 6 years ago

Harmonic Drive UK embarks on collaboration with academia

Posted 6 years ago

Harmonic Drive at Manufacturing & Engineering North East

Posted 6 years ago

CSD: lightweight and compact gears for semiconductor market

Posted 6 years ago

Servo drives for harsh environmental conditions

Posted 6 years ago

Lifetime precision for new planetary gears

Posted 6 years ago

CSF-Mini series: compact, lightweight and high-capacity gears

Posted 7 years ago

Harmonic Drive to showcase new actuators

Posted 7 years ago

Harmonic Drive UK: celebrating a decade of success

Posted 7 years ago

New hollow shaft actuators from Harmonic Drive

Posted 7 years ago

LynxDrive servo actuators are compact, accurate and reliable

Posted 7 years ago

Harmonic Drive to showcase high-strength precision gears

Posted 8 years ago

Harmonic Drive launches miniature hollow-shaft servo actuator

Posted 15 years ago

Explaining the benefits of harmonic drives

Posted 15 years ago

More technical articles

Login / Sign up