Development of a Novel Cam-based Infinitely Variable Transmission


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Virginia Tech


An infinitely variable transmission (IVT) is a transmission that can smoothly and continuously vary the speed ratio between an input and output from zero to some other positive or negative ratio; they are a subset of continuously variable transmissions (CVTs), which themselves do not have the ability to produce a zero gear ratio. In this thesis, the operation, analysis, and development of a novel, highly configurable, Cam-based Infinitely Variable Transmission of the ratcheting drive type is presented.

There are several categories of CVTs in existence today, including traction, belt, and ratcheting types. Drives of these types, their attributes, and associated design challenges are discussed to frame the development of the Cam-based IVT. The operation of this transmission is kinematically similar to a planetary gearset, and therefore, its operation is described with that in mind including a description of the six major components of the transmission, those being the cam, followers, carriers, planet gears, sun gears, and one way clutches. The kinematic equation describing its motion is derived based on the similarities it shares with a planetary gearset. Additionally, the equations for the cam design are developed here as the operation of the CVT is highly dependent on the shape of the cam. There are six simple inversions of this device and each inversion has special characteristics and limitations, for example, the available gear range. A method was developed to select the most suitable inversion, gearing, and follower velocity for a given application.

The contact stress between the rollers and cam is the limiting stress within the transmission. A parametric study is used to quantify the relationship between this stress and the transmission parameters. Based off those results, two optimization strategies and their results are discussed. The first is an iterative brute force type numerical search and the second is a genetic algorithm. The optimization results are shown to be similar and successfully reduced the contact stress by 40%. To further improve the transmission performance, several mechanisms were developed for this unique transmission. These include a compact and lightweight differential mechanism based on a cord and pulley system to reduce the contact force on the rollers. In addition, a unique external/inverted cam topology was developed to improve the contact geometry between the rollers and said cam. A prototype was built based on both the optimization strategies and these mechanisms and is described within. Finally, a Prony brake dynamometer with cradled motor was constructed to test the transmission; the results of those tests show the Cam-based IVT to be 93% efficient at low input torque levels.



Ratcheting Drive, Cammoid, CVT, IVT, Infinitely Variable Transmission