A rack and pinion is a type of linear actuator that comprises a pair of gears which convert rotational motion into linear motion. A circular gear called "the pinion" engages teeth on a linear "gear" bar called "the rack"; rotational motion applied to the pinion causes the rack to move, thereby translating the rotational motion of the pinion into the linear motion of the rack.
The rack and pinion arrangement is commonly found in the steering mechanism of cars or other wheeled, steered vehicles. This arrangement provides a lesser mechanical advantage than other mechanisms such as recirculating ball, but much less backlash and greater feedback, or steering "feel". The use of a variable rack (still using a normal pinion) was invented by Arthur Ernest Bishop, so as to improve vehicle response and steering "feel" especially at high speeds, and that has been fitted to many new vehicles, after he created a specialised version of a net-shape warm press forging process to manufacture the racks to their final form, thus eliminating any subsequent need to machine the gear teeth.
For every pair of conjugate involute profile, there is a basic rack. This basic rack is the profile of the conjugate gear of infinite pitch radius. (I.e. a toothed straight edge.)
A generating rack is a rack outline used to indicate tooth details and dimensions for the design of a generating tool, such as a hob or a gear shaper cutter.
- List of gear nomenclature
- Another animation of the rack and pinion mechanism.
- Kinematic Models for Design Digital Library (KMODDL)
Movies and photos of hundreds of working mechanical-systems models at Cornell University. Also includes an e-book library of classic texts on mechanical design and engineering.
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