Couplings: Uses and Applications

December 20, 2016

Scores of essential components facilitate radial motion within a complex gear train. That intricate layout is going to create headaches in our coupling exercise, so let’s remove the clutter. Instead, how’s about looking at a plain relationship, a situation where two rotating shafts require a dependable connecting device? Short and sweet, that’s the function of couplings, to create a binding connection between two shafts, but how is this accomplished?

Designed to Transmit Radial Power 

Challenges quickly make themselves known when an engineer seeks to transfer radial momentum from one drive shaft to another. First of all, the rod of the gearing unit is rotating at great speed, which makes a connecting mechanism tough to design. The solution to this problem takes some skill and much innovation, with the final bridging connection delivering a strong mechanical linkage between the two discrete drive elements.

Couplings: How Do They Work? 

A reliable mechanical joint unites the two drive elements. It’s typically rigid, but many flexible variants are available. The rigid model has limitations, chief amongst which would be its inability to cope with shaft misalignment errors, but it does tend to be stronger than a flexible coupling. If the two shafts are coaxial to each other, then a rigid connector is best suited. The basic profile for this product uses a sleeve and tube configuration, with two keyways and two threaded locking holes providing a secure anti-slippage feature.

Advanced Connection Mechanics 

Rigid couplings excel when a pair of drive shafts are laterally aligned. Beginning with the keyed tube and the locking screws, the rigid variants then advance through several advanced configurations, including the flange and sleeve family. Beyond this point, innovative keyless couplers replace flat keyways and slotted splines with innovative locking assemblies so that the rotating load is evenly distributed. As for flexible couplings, this versatile coupling product is rated according to its torsional stiffness characteristics. Essentially, it should be flexible enough to offset a misalignment problem but have enough holding power to lock the two shafts in sync.

The shape of the shaft will inevitably impact the coupling type, as will the lateral configuration, but we should also mention the relationship between this connection dynamic and any bearings in the system. First of all, misalignment problems do influence bearings. Thrust load and sidereal errors compromise the rolling elements. The solution to this stress factor is to always check for precise shaft alignment when a rigid product connects the two elements. Better yet, opt for the flexible coupling, a product that minimizes vibrations and eliminates lateral positioning errors.


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