Design and Mechanical Engineers make a series of choices when designing right angle gears into their products. One such choice is whether to incorporate existing off-the-shelf gear reducers (often referred to as COTS for ‘commercial-off-the-shelf’) or – alternatively – to design from scratch. As with most choices, context matters. Thus, the logic behind choosing one over the other will change depending on the design criteria and project requirements.

Below are 5 of the most common reasons for each:

5 reasons to design customized gears or gearboxes

  1. Specific sizing requirements and/or packaging constraints
  2. Desire to optimize toward 1 or 2 performance characteristics (ie, torque or efficiency)
  3. Need to customize surrounding geometry such that the gear set or gear box can integrate with adjacent components
  4. A design or application that calls for a specific reduction ratio
  5. Desire to use specific gear or pinion material – or material treatment – to enable required performance


5 reasons to use COTS gear sets or gearboxes

  1. Cost reduction (need the gear reducer to be as inexpensive as possible)
  2. Delivery / timing (need to order and receive the gear reducer as quickly as possible)
  3. Known performance characteristics
  4. Gear reducer is performing unimportant function or has low/easy requirements
  5. Performance requirements are somewhat ‘open’ and flexible


While Spiroid has always been best known as a custom gearbox designer and manufacturer – and while we’ve made great progress streamlining, simplifying and shortening our required lead time to customize – we have the added advantage of being able to offer a third ‘in-between’ option. For the purposes of this post, we’ll call this Spiroid’s ‘Customized Off-The-Shelf’ capability. This capability is a direct result of our 50+ years of experience with the Spiroid right angle gear technology. Through the years, we’ve designed and manufactured thousands of cutting tools which we retain and keep in inventory. Each cutting tool is capable of producing a specific gearset with pre-defined ratios, torque capacities, efficiencies, etc. With this in mind, the chances are high that a handful of our over 3,000 cutting tools will be capable of producing a gearset that meets most, if not all, of your application’s requirements.

What does this mean for our customers? It means that we can drastically reduce lead times while maintaining our ability to customize Spiroid’s high torque right angle gear technology to your needs. In certain circumstances, depending on your specific application requirements, it also means we can reduce costs. To learn more about this capability and how our processes support it, check out “The Spiroid Process.”