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A rack and pinion is a type of linear actuator that comprises a circular gear (the pinion) engaging a linear gear (the rack). Together, they convert rotational motion into linear motion. Rotating the pinion causes the rack to be driven in a line. Conversely, moving the rack linearly will cause the pinion to rotate. A rack and pinion drive can use both straight and helical gears. Though some suggest helical gears are quieter in operation, no hard evidence supports this theory. Helical racks, while being more affordable, have proven to increase side torque on the datums, increasing operating temperature leading to premature wear. Straight racks require a lower driving force and offer increased torque and speed per percentage of gear ratio which allows lower operating temperature and lessens viscal friction and energy use. The maximum force that can be transmitted in a rack and pinion mechanism is determined by the tooth pitch and the size of the pinion as well as the gear ratio.
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.