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Purposes and Common Uses of Rack and Pinion Gearsets
Tue 12th Nov 2019 at 7:05am, 0 comments

At Butler Gear, we're proud to serve as your one-stop custom gear manufacturer, providing a wide range of gear grinding, gear shaping and numerous other related services. We manufacture a variety of gear types, from bevel and spur gears to helical gears and many other types, all customized to fit the precise needs of your project.

One particular gear type we specialize in is our custom pinion gears, which are often used in coordination with racks for what those in the industry would call a rack and pinion gearset. This gearset has many common applications, including a few major public areas that you interact with daily. Let's go over what makes a rack and pinion gearset special, plus some of the common areas where this format is used today.

purposes rack pinion gearsets

Benefits of Rack and Pinion Gearset

Technically speaking, rack and pinion gearsets are a type of linear actuator. Their purpose is to translate rotational motion into linear motion - they take the energy from a gear that's moving in its normal rotation, and convert it into a forward or backward motion.

This requires a strong pinion gear, and we only offer the most durable options at Butler Gear. These systems may not provide the same level of mechanical advantage as a recirculating ball, but they come with less backlash and more feedback and are the best possible option for the translation of motion that's required here.


Here are just a few of the common modern applications that regularly utilize rack and pinion gearsets:

  • Car steering: In many vehicle types, the steering shaft attached to the wheel of the vehicle will be connected to a small pinion gear. When the wheel is turned, the gear spins, and the rack and pinion gearset translates the rotational motion into linear movement. From here, a tie rod at the end of the rack connects to the steering arm, ensuring the linear motion is sent in the proper direction.
  • Railways: When trains and other locomotives need to ascent a steep slope, they often have issues. But a rack and pinion gear can help here - a rack is placed along the hill, and pinion gears allow for the force needed to propel the machine up the hill.
  • Stairlifts: Virtually all stairlifts contain a rack and pinion gear, with the gear allowing for the upward movement in similar ways as above.
  • Actuators: Actuators are machines that move various components, such as a pipeline transport system. In such a system, a rack and pinion gear helps control the valves that the system requires for basic functioning.

For more on rack and pinion gearsets and the purposes they serve, or to learn about our pinion gears or any of our other custom gears, speak to the staff at Butler Gear today.

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