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Shaft Couplings

Couplings are mechanical elements that ‘couples’ two drive elements which
enables motion to be transferred from one element to another. The drive elements
are normally shafts. We tend to see lot of applications of the couplings mainly in the
automobiles, for example the drive shaft which connects the engine and the rear
axle in a bus or any automobile is connected by means of a universal joint.
In order to transmit torque between two shafts that either tend to lie in the same
line or slightly misaligned, a coupling is used.

Purpose/Application of Shaft Couplings
• To provide for the connection of shafts of units that are manufactured
separately such as a motor and generator and to provide for disconnection
for repairs or alternations.
• To provide for misalignment of the shafts or to introduce mechanical
• To reduce the transmission of shock loads from one shaft to another.
• To introduce protection against overloads.
Requirements of a Good Shaft Coupling
• It should be easy to connect or disconnect.
• It should transmit the full power from one shaft to the other shaft without
• It should hold the shafts in perfect alignment.

Based on the usage of the coupling a keyway in made in the bore in order to transmit the torque by means of the key. This consists of a pipe whose bore is finished to the required tolerance based on the shaft size. Flexible or Compensating Couplings 3. FLEXIBLE OR COMPENSATING COUPLINGS . The photo shows a type of the rigid sleeve or muf coupling. Flanged Coupling – The coupling basically consists of two flanged end pieces as shown in the figure. There are many types of couplings that fall under the rigid couplings category. They are · Rigid Sleeve or Muff Couplings. The flanges are connected firmly by means of fitted bolts which are tightened accordingly to the torque to be transmitted. Clutches are also a type of Coupling RIGID COUPLINGS Rigid Couplings are mainly used in areas where the two shafts are coaxial to each other. A spigot and recess is provided in the flanges to provide location between them. • If should have no projecting parts Based on the area of applications there are various types of coupling available.This is the basic type of coupling. But they are generally categorized in the following varieties 1.• It should reduce the transmission of shock loads from one shaft to another shaft. Rigid Couplings 2. Two threaded holes are provided in order to lock the coupling in position.

we will have to make the following choices in specifying a shaft coupling: Type of coupling: The engineer will have to select the general type of coupling based on each type's strengths and weaknesses. Flanged Pin Bush Couplings 2. there is an almost bewilderingly large number of factors to consider. but it also impacts misalignment accommodation.Flexible couplings are normally used in areas where the coaxiallity between the connecting shafts is not always assured and in areas where there is a possibility of occurrence of shocks in the transmission is applicable. and may be required to compromise on some or all of these characteristics. Material: This will afect the coupling's torque rating. and couplings with elastomeric elements capable of torsional dampening typically exert large reactive forces on support bearings if forced to accommodate large radial misalignments. For example. and based upon the general requirements of his system as he's prioritized them. 6. and many of these factors interact with one another. Universal Coupling or Hooke’s Coupling 8. and cost. Elastomeric Couplings – This consists of jaw type and S-flex couplings. and cost. but this will inevitably cause the coupling to have a lower torsional stifness. The diferent types of flexible couplings are 1. mass. Bellows Coupling Each of the above couplings are quite unique in their construction and we can deal in detail on their constructional and working aspects in separate articles. an engineer might want the coupling to absorb torsional vibration. Gear Tooth Coupling 4. rotational inertia. further complicating the task. By construction these couplings tend to have a elastic member in between the two connecting entities. . as well as other factors. Tyre couplings 5. They are also called as Elastic Couplings. Bibbly Coupling 3. THE SELECTION AND SPECIFICATION OF SHAFT COUPLINGS When selecting a shaft coupling. Oldhams Coupling 7. The engineer will have to prioritize each of these factors in his application. In general. Size of coupling: This is driven primarily by shaft size and by the torque requirements of the system.

all flexible couplings exert reactive forces on the support bearings in the driving and driven components. Total service factor is the sum of the driven side's service factor and the driving side's service factor. Reactive forces exerted by the coupling: Under misalignment. and axial. and each is a measure of the severity of the application. performance and life cycle of the coupling. then a jaw coupling is the obvious choice. like dynamic balance of the coupling at high rpm. after any possible thermal expansion during operation. But in most situations. . the amount of torque. Coupling performance versus coupling cost: In some situations. the engineer will have a set of system requirements that will require him to balance many diferent factors and make choices that prioritize those that he considers most important. Specific service factors for various applications are listed within OEP Coupling's Part Number Selection Tool. service factors related to the nature of the application should also be considered. it will be obvious what type of coupling is needed. Torsional vibration dampening versus torsional stiffness: As one increases. and attachment options require the engineer to balance cost versus serviceability. and the priorities lent to each performance criteria for his application. If torsional dampening is clearly the primary consideration. However. if there is no significant misalignment. for example. and the type of coupling. the value or fragility of driving or driven components will compel the designer to spec a more expensive coupling that exerts smaller reactive forces. angular. we must balance cost of the coupling. This tool also derates the coupling for temperature and misalignment: Even though a coupling might be rated for 180 deg F. and the coupling should be derated for temperature and misalignment. In each case. while compromising on other factors. Misalignment of the system: Radial. then a rigid coupling will be the least expensive and most reliable choice. Other factors that might be unique to the system. the size of these forces varies with the amount of misalignment. the other decreases. Type of Coupling: In some situations.Bore types and shaft attachment options: Bore selection is typically driven by the shafts involved. These considerations include: Torque requirements of the system: Torque requirements can be calculated from either the torque of the driven component or from the horsepower and rpm of the driving side. this doesn't mean that its performance at 170 deg F will be the same as it will at room temperature. if either approach the operational limits of the coupling.

when downtime of the device is particularly expensive. and is good for harsh or dirty environments. they ofer good peak torque rating and torsional stifness. very low reactive forces. however. Oldham/universal couplings ofer all of the advantages of Oldham couplings. Universal joints are used in applications with very large angular misalignment -up to 45 degrees with a single joint. Radially and axially. The block coupling can include an internal grease reservoir. but can accommodate up to 6 degrees of angular misalignment. or when the design of the assembly makes servicing the coupling difficult. the engineer will select a coupling that's less likely to require replacment or service. when these misalignments are small and these bearings are stout. and serve as a sort of slip clutch. Jaw couplings ofer the advantage of torsional vibration dampening. A block coupling won't break until the hubs themselves fail also. Oldham couplings can accommodate large radial. the use of rigid couplings can result in large reactive forces on support bearings. so the inexpensive midsection can be replaced. an Oldham coupling's midsection will break. that doesn't ofer the Oldham's mechanical-fuse midsection: Under excessive torque. however). Beam or helical couplings are moderate-cost one-piece flexible metallic couplings that have high reactive forces under misalignment and some windup (up . small angular. but the hubs remain intact. Block couplings are an older variation of the Oldham coupling. and high cost. and are a good all-around choice for a flexible coupling in most applications. should some misalignment occur. however. but are rated for very small torques. from assembly inaccuracy or from thermal expansion during operation.Coupling lifetime versus cost of replacement: In some situations. However. have very small torsional stifness. They accommodate large torques and small misalignments with low cost. Different types of couplings offer different advantages and disadvantages: Rigid couplings can accommodate almost no misalignment. They accommodate large misalignments. and moderate axial misalignment. Magnetic couplings are used to transmit rotation across a barrier. they're essentially inflexible. as some windup will occur. (The block's midsection can be replaced after wear. This fail-safe feature might be considered advantageous in some applications. and low cost. They don't have good torsional stifness. homokinetic transmission (the driven side moves at the same speed as the driving side at all times). rigid couplings will be the choice for both lowest cost and longest life.

Gear. and there is no inexpensive replaceable wear element. Alloy steel and brass are worth considering when cost is the primary . while minimizing cost. as does radial misalignment accomodation. and so the strength of the hub is critical. and the hubs of flexible couplings. and rough applications. so increasing the size within a given type is the most natural way to spec a coupling that will meet these two requirements.125 inch diameter shaft. Pin-and-bushing couplings are large-diameter assemblies that accommodate small misalignments and ofer small torsional dampening. As coupling diameter increases. alloy seven degrees). few manufacturers produce a 2 inch diameter coupling that can accommodate a 0. Stainless steel ofers good corrosion resistance and high strength over a wide range of temperatures. In couplings that don't have a sacrificial midsection. and have low torsional stifness when measured at torques that approach the peak torque. the engineer wouldn't want to overcompensate here and select a coupling that's larger than needed. are typically available in aluminum. For most applications. Rigid couplings. When coated appropriately. Each has advantages: Aluminum ofers low cost and low moment of inertia. aluminum is the best default choice for metallic coupling components. brass. a coupling can also be too large for a given shaft size -. Bellows couplings have a thin-walled flexible metallic element. but increases cost. and advanced thermoplastics. very high torques. rated peak torque also increases. but are useful only for low torque. and chain couplings are very robust designs meant for large shafts (over two inches in diameter). good wear characteristics. it also boasts low coefficient of friction. stainless steel. they will eventually fatigue and fail. grid. although they have no sliding moving parts. and good corrosion resistance. the use of proper alloys (like 7075) can make aluminum hubs as strong as alloy steel and almost as strong as stainless steel.for example. Size of Coupling: Coupling size must be large enough to accommodate both shafts. Coupling Materials: Proper selection of materials can ensure that the coupling withstands the required temperature and torque. and can accommodate large misalignments with low reactive forces. these are moderate-cost units that will eventually fatigue. However. as this would needlessly increase rotational inertia and cost. Like the beam coupling.

A keyway is broached into . making them electrically insulating. There is a major diference in performance. Bore Types and Shaft Attachment Options: Bores can be polygonal. they have a big advantage in ease of mounting. because the hub can be slid back over the shaft and out of the way to insert the midsection. which ofer higher static break torque and torsional stifness. but cylindrical bores are the most common. service temperature. to fit polygonal shafts. but usually in torque and stifness as well. It ofers low cost. Ultem© can be used for rigid couplings. High-temperature thermoplastics are sometimes ofered as an alternative to Delrin. with good all-around performance in terms of compression set. compared to cheap molded Delrin midsections. OEP Couplings also ofers their Oldham coupling's midsection in Urethane. although any diference between the two in this regard is negligibly small. High-temperature molded rubbers are sometimes ofered as an alternative to Urethane for jaw coupling midsections. good wear. with good strength at a wide range of temperatures and good dimensional stability. between machined Delrin midsections. and chemical resistance. it's also sometimes billed as having more torsional dampening than Delrin. Urethane is a common choice for the midsections of elastomeric flexible couplings like the jaw coupling. then slid back and locked down.consideration. Blind bores (bores that don't go all the way through the hub) ofer the potential advantage of giving a bottom of the bore for the shaft to push against. they exceed Delrin not only in maximum service temperature. wear. relatively high torque and torsional stifness. but with excellent torsional dampening characteristics. There are also several options available in the midsections of flexible couplings: Delrin© is the most common choice for non-elastomeric flexible couplings like the Oldham coupling. this provides the user with a hybrid coupling with the large radial misalignment accomodation and low reactive forces of an Oldham coupling. so that the coupling can be installed without moving either the driving or driven component. helping to axially locate the hub relative to the shaft. There are three types of cylindrical bores: Through-bores are the most common option. however. Keyed bores can be either through-bores or blind bores. Nylon is sometimes ofered in Oldham couplings as an even-lower-cost alternative to Delrin. coated with a low-friction coating.

so that even without the additional cost of balancing on a balancing machine. with set screws or clamping screws on just one side of a hub. and is a common attachment method with universal joints. Shaft attachment options include: Set screws are the least least expensive and most versatile shaft attachment method. but not impossible. but they can mar the shaft. Other Considerations: A factor that the designer would have to consider in very high rpm applications is the balance of the coupling. a size that will fit his shafts and that has adequate torque. Many couplings are supplied very far out-of-balance. This adds to the cost of the hub. reactive forces or vibration from flexible couplings will amplify other forces within the system. At high rpm. making it easy to replace the midsection. Conclusion: After choosing a type appropriate for his application. OEP Coupling's designs are all at least theoretically symmetrical in weight distribution. preventing shaft slippage. materials appropriate for his application. Pins can be inserted through a cross-drilled hole in the hub and a hole in the shaft. an unbalanced coupling can cause large forces on the support bearings. This makes removal difficult. the designer should . they will be closer to being balanced without this additional step than those of other manufacturers. and the best bore types and shaft-locking features for his application. This is difficult to predict. making removal difficult. and can cause vibration. and experimentation is usually necessary to determine if this will happen. This helps to transmit torque from the shaft to the hub. or create a feedback loop and amplify themselves at certain critical frequencies. and can be supplied balanced at an additional cost. Most couplings are supplied unbalanced. Occasionally. Clamping mechanisms are non-marring. Often this situation can be alleviated by using diferent hub materials with diferent masses. and provide high shaft-locking torque. and no features to provide symmetrical weight distribution. particularly when combined with a keyed bore. and it means that the angular position of the hub relative to the shaft is then predetermined and can't be adjusted. even at very high torques.the bore to accept standard inch or metric keys that also seat in a keyway in the shaft.

and bore depths. and axial). and fits within the physical envelope available. The coupling can physically accommodate both shafts. including coupling length. or based on horsepower and rpm of the motor. torsional dampening. The coupling is rated at or above the rpm of the application. after any thermal growth during operation is factored in. dynamic balance. and after the coupling is derated for temperature and misalignment (if either approaches the operational limits of the coupling). based on torque of the driven component. rotational moment of inertia. The coupling is rated at or above the anticipated shaft misalignment (radial. and harmonic stability at all frequencies that it might encounter. angular.verify that his selection meets any of the following criteria that he considers critical: The torque rating of the coupling exceeds that of the application. after considering service factors. The coupling is rated above the anticipated maximum ambient temperature. coupling outer diameter. The coupling meets all design criteria in terms of torsional stifness. .