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Rack and pinion animation

A rack and pinion is a pair of gears which convert rotational motion into linear motion. The circular pinion engages teeth on a flat bar – the rack. Rotational motion applied to the pinion will cause the rack to move to the side, up to the limit of its travel. For example, in a rack railway, the rotation of a pinion mounted on a locomotive or a railcar engages a rack between the rails and pulls a train along a steep slope.

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 E Bishop,[1] 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.

Enclosed steering rack in an automobile

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.[2]

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.[2]

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