What is a Slewing Drive?

July 11, 2016-Slewing drives are commonly used mechanical devices, found today in applications such as construction cranes, solar tracking systems and industrial equipment. The basic technology found in these drive mechanisms, however, is very old dating back to Ancient Greece, and employed by Leonardo da Vinci in many of his Renaissance inventions. Modern slewing drives represent the modern evolutions of an ancient and highly effective basic machine, the worm drive or endless screw.

A quality modern slewing drive includes a sound mounting structure, a slew bearing, rotational movement and power controls to facilitate perfect motion. In operation, the drive converts axial movement (force exerted on an axis) into radial/rotary torque, allowing the rotation of greater loads with more accuracy, while also enabling geared torque amplification.

The slewing drive does this by meshing the grooves of a horizontal screw (the worm) with the teeth of a gear placed perpendicular to the screw. The gear rotates as the screw turns, and the screw’s axial movement force is then transmitted to the radial gear as magnified output torque.

While the basic idea behind the slewing drive is not new, the modern incarnations of this device feature many relatively recent innovations. Kinematics’ patented hourglass screw design, for example, increases the number of gear teeth that can be engaged with the worm grooves at once, greatly improving force transition over standard worm designs by meshing much more efficiently with the radial gear. This, in turn, significantly increases the drive’s survivability load, positioning accuracy and rotational smoothness.

Enclosed in a rugged and tested enclosure to protect the mechanism from water, dust, dirt and other particulate contaminants, the resulting Kinematics slewing drive gearbox delivers a powerful means of creating accurate rotational force in many of the world’s most demanding applications.