Commercialization of the Circular Wave Drive (CWD)


What We Aimed To Do

Work with Dr. Yuan Zheng to expand and commercialize his design for the Circular Wave Drive. This requires further experimentation with the design in order to increase functionality and identify key markets for the device to be used. We would like to thank the State of Ohio and the Ohio Development Services Agency for making this project possible.

Identified Markets



Food Production

The CWD’s design is rugged and does not suffer from water intrusion and corrosion. Therefore it is able to withstand long outdoor exposure. The CWD features more holding torque than other speed reducers making them ideal for robotic applications that move heavy loads. Because the CWD does not require any lubricant it can be used in sterile environments such as food production as well as medical robots.

What We Did

To start we created an additive manufactured prototype to confirm functionality. This revealed an issue with off-axis loading and tooth geometries resulting in CDME making several design changes and improvements increasing both the range and specificity of potential reduction rations and increased manufacturability. Prototypes were machined out of aluminum and tested in different applications. This illustrated the versatility of the design as well as its viability. Mathematical models were created to quickly generate CWD gear profiles for applications such as gear boxes.

CWD as a Replacement for Harmonic Drives

Current harmonic drives are expensive to machine due to their many small teeth. They have low load bearing capabilities and can be worn down quickly. The CWD is less expensive to machine as it has larger teeth. It also features a higher load bearing capability and does not wear out as fast because of its design.

Next Steps

The startup company Circular Wave Drive Inc. will continue to develop the gearing system and characterize its performance. Local manufacturers will be sought out to produce the device. They will also continue to expand its adoption in the fields of precision robotics, food processing, and agricultural/construction machinery.


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