A computer program was developed for designing a low vibration gearbox. The code is based on a finite element shell analysis method, a modal analysis method, and a structural optimization method. In the finite element analysis, a triangular shell element with 18 degrees-of-freedom is used. In the optimization method, the overall vibration energy of the gearbox is used as the objective function and is minimized at the exciting frequency by varying the finite element thickness. Modal analysis is used to derive the sensitivity of the vibration energy with respect to the design variable. The sensitivity is representative of both eigenvalues and eigenvectors. The optimum value is computed by the gradient projection method and a unidimensional search procedure under the constraint condition of constant weight.
The computer code is applied to a design problem derived from an experimental gearbox in use at the NASA Lewis Research Center. The top plate and two side plates of the gearbox are redesigned and the contribution of each surface to the total vibration is determined. Results show that optimization of the top plate alone is effective in reducing total gearbox vibration.