What is the Difference Between A Gear Drive, A Gear Reducer and A Speed Reducer Gearbox?

Gear drives, gear motors, and gear reducers are all mechanical devices that use gears to transmit power and change speed and torque. However, there are some important differences between these three types of devices.

Distinguishing Gear Drives, Gearmotors, Gear Reducers, and Transmissions

Gearboxes (or gear drives): A gearbox or gear drive is a set, or sets of gears contained in a housing. An automotive transmission is one kind of gear box and a speed reducer is another. All Speed/Gear reducers are gearboxes, but not all gearboxes are speed reducers.

Gearmotor: A gearmotor is the pairing of a motor and a gearbox which is usually in the form of a gear reducer. They can also be manufactured as one piece. If a manufacturer includes “gearmotors” in their line cards or catalogs, they’re selling you a preassembled piece of equipment that includes both a motor and a gearbox.

Gear Reducers (or Speed Reducers): A kind of gearbox that is designed to use a set of gears, shafts, and arrangements to decrease rotational speed and increase torque. For example, pairing a 1750 RPM motor to a speed reducer with the ratio of 20:1 will give you an output speed of 87.5 RPM.

This table summarizes the key differences between gear drives, gear motors, and gear reducers:

GearboxAny device that uses a set of gears in a housing to transmit power.To transmit power and/or change speed and torque. 
GearmotorA unit that combines an electric motor with a gearbox.To provide a convenient way to transmit power and change speed and torque in a single package.
Gear reducerA type of gearbox that is specifically designed to reduce speed and increase torque.To reduce speed and increase torque.

Understanding the interchangeable nature of these terms can significantly aid engineers when conducting research and exploring available options. Whether they seek a gearmotor or a speed reducer, knowing that different companies may label their products differently empowers engineers to confidently make informed selections.