Plastic gears can also be used industrially; they are found in processes within automotive manufacturing, marine manufacturing, aerospace components manufacturing and many other industries. These gears are generally very cost effective and lightweight. Common plastic industrial gears are made of Delrin, nylon and polycarbonate plastics. Composite metal-plastic gears that are mainly composed of plastic are still generally considered plastic gears, especially if the teeth are made of plastic.
Metals are often used as grommets and other durability-enhancing inserts in order to extend the operating life of the gear. A plastic gear’s performance is influenced by its design, power transmission requirements, heat generation during operation and the presence of corrosive elements to which the gear will be exposed during operation. Some plastic materials are more corrosion and heat resistant than others, and choosing these materials carefully lengthens a plastic gear’s lifespan.
The costs associated with gear machining and raw materials acquisition is a major consideration for professionals who seek to employ gears. Metals can be much more expensive than plastics to purchase in their raw form, and machining can also be an expensive process. Raw plastic materials, depending on the material, can be quite inexpensive and are easily processed into usable products in large quantities by plastic fabrication processes like molding and extrusion. Thermoforming processes like molding can produce complex shapes quickly and efficiently.
The process imparts qualities of strength and durability upon the shapes it creates, and it is a highly repeatable process. Plastic gears can be designed in almost every gear configuration. Bevel gears, which are characterized by the intersection of working axes, can be made out of plastic just as easily as they can be made out of metal. The same is true for spur gears, sprockets, worm gears and most other gear configurations. Successful gear manufacturers have adapted to the wide range of needs within industry, commerce and consumer products contexts for gears; the number of possible gear configurations is only as limited as the imaginations of their users.