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To connect rotary equipment to shafts and transfer torque, flexible shaft couplings are installed in equipment and machinery. Since shafts are used to provide motion and often operate at high speed, shaft couplings must be secure to keep the shaft rigid and prevent it from moving. This is particularly important in vehicles.

Manufacturers use shaft couplings to connect rotary equipment like driveshafts, line shafts, power transmissions, wheels, and more in aerospace, automotive and construction industries. A rigid shaft coupling connects shafts with a linear alignment. A fluid coupling works by transferring energy through oil by way of a pump. Flexible couplings like bellows or Oldham couplings connect shafts that need more flexibility or are not linear in their alignment. For 90-degree angles, gear couplings are used to transfer rotary motion.

Universal joints work in a similar manner to provide a full range of motion. Flywheel couplings and torque limiters are both types of motor couplings that are flexible enough to be used in car transmissions. For applications where vibration must be limited, jaw couplings are used for maximum dampening.

A common type of rigid shaft is a driveshaft. Driveshafts transfer power in a car, motorcycle or truck. A universal joint allows the shaft to rotate and bend while still providing torque to the wheels. The central hub of the universal joint is where the shaft is joined to the third element. This allows for more bending than in a flexible shaft coupling.

Gear couplings are also used in similar applications. A gear coupling is designed like a sprocket and it connects shafts while providing torque at the same time. If equipment is designed with more than 5 degrees of misalignment, manufacturers use universal joints or gear couplings for maximum flexibility. Read More…Request for Quote

Leading Manufacturers

DieQua Corporation

Bloomingdale, IL | 630-980-1133

TB Wood’s

Chambersburg, PA | 888-829-6637

JWF Technologies

Fairfield, OH | 877-769-9611

Kop-Flex, Inc.

Hanover, MD | 410-768-2000

Gam Enterpries, Inc.

Mount Prospect, IL | 888-426-7117

Shifting during operation can cause the shafts to misalign. To remedy this for certain applications, manufacturers make use of flexible shaft couples so that the function can continue even if the alignment is not perfect. Misalignment can occur during operation when the shaft’s axis of rotation becomes skewed.

This can happen because of movement, vibrations or bumps during motion. Parallel misalignment occurs when the shafts’ rotational axes become parallel to each other. Angular misalignment is when the shafts intersect at an angle, and skewed misalignment occurs when both axial and angular misalignment take place at once.

Besides accommodating misalignment, flexible shaft couplings have other important functions in mechanical equipment. End float, another term for axial displacement, is the result of the shafts moving away from or towards each other on their axes. Flexible shaft couples can help to accommodate this by absorbing shocks and dampening vibrations.

Manufacturers create couplings for many different applications. Some specialize in couplings for automotive use or industry-specific equipment. Flexible shaft couplings can be divided into three primary categories based on their flexibility and intended use: mechanical, elastomeric, and metallic membrane. Besides these, a number of manufacturers also create various types of shafts for custom or specialized applications.

To construct flexible shaft couplings, processes like electroforming, chemical deposition, mechanical forming, and welding can all be used. When electroforming is performed, layers of metal are added to a piece of a mandrel until the couple reaches the perfect thickness. Chemical deposition is a similar process, except the materials are deposited through electro-deposition. Roll-forming and extrusion are both common machining techniques for manufacturers who perform mechanical forming. A welded coupling is created by welding together a series of rings or washer from the outside and the inside for maximum strength.

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