Truck variator

A continuously variable frictionless transmission prototype (proof-of-concept) with high torque was developed and manufactured, based on a client’s  patented invention. The prototype EnCata designed and built then went for static testing and further development.



Project duration:

5 months

Technologies used:

A continuously variable frictionless transmission prototype (proof-of-concept) with high torque was developed and manufactured, based on customer’s patented invention. The prototype went for static testing and further R&D.


An inventor from Academia approached EnCata with his patented idea of a new type of variable frictionless transmission which would enable high torque with “no-clutch” design. The variator prototype did not exist, and there was a preliminary CAD.

Initial customer's concept


We qualified the technology readiness for this “no-clutch variator” as TRL-2 and started to redesign the transmission in an effort to validate the inventor’s research and refine the concept.

Upon preparing the detailed CAD for manufacturing, we realised that the suggested design would not function in a prototype and wouldn’t demonstrate the intended principle. Since the motivation behind the project was to produce a real scale working proof-of-principle prototype, we suggested redesigning the variator.

We thus scrapped the customer’s initial 3D model and started from scratch to redesign the transmission. The project followed the standard ‘EnCata project flow‘, whereby we developed  a new technical concept and ran a series of kinematic simulations and calculations to create the new CAD 3D model.

During the concept phase, some of the critical variable transmission parts were considered  “risky” in terms of momentums/forces vs tolerances (even despite the fact we conducted s large sets of numerical simulations). In order to conduct a large set of numerical simulations, we chose to print some gears with the SLA 3D printer.

When finished with the technical concept and the new preliminary CAD, the engineering team produced the documentation for prototype manufacturing.

Manufacturing precision gears of the variator required much of CNC milling, EDM erosion and annealing. The entire manufacturing process took EnCata 4 weeks, including assembly.

Upon completing the manufactured prototype, we conducted tests and updated the 2D drawing and the BOM. This brought the variator project to the TRL-4 level and proved the initial concept of the frictionless transmission design.

Prototype parts waiting assembly


During this project, EnCata invented a number of patentable features which were all transferred to the customer.  (This is standard EnCata  policy: all the intellectual work created during the project belongs to our clients). The client then raised funds within the automotive industry, which is seeking new reliable variable transmission types.

Overall, the customer enjoyed the full service with EnCata, which included:

  • new technical concept development
  • computer simulations
  • CAD model development with a set of drawings
  • prototype manufacturing and tests
final prototype

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