You are on page 1of 28


ME 147P
Machine Design I
A key is a piece of mild steel inserted
between the shaft and hub of the pulley,
gear, sprocket, etc. to connect these
together in order to prevent relative
motion between them.
It is always inserted parallel to the axis of
the shaft.
Keys are used as temporary fastenings
and are subjected to considerable
crushing and shearing stresses.
A keyway is a slot or recess in a shaft and
hub of the pulley to accommodate a key.
Types of Keys
1. Sunk keys, 2. Saddle keys, 3. Tangent keys,
4. Round keys, and 5. Splines.
Sunk Keys: The sunk keys are provided half in
the keyway of the shaft and half in the
keyway of the hub.
Rectangular sunk key.
Square sunk key. The only difference
between a rectangular sunk key and a
square sunk key is that its width and
thickness are equal, i.e.
wt d
Parallel sunk key. The parallel sunk keys
may be of rectangular or square section
uniform in width and thickness throughout.
It may be noted that a parallel key is
taperless and is used where the pulley,
gear or other mating piece is required to
slide along the shaft.
Gib-head key. It is a rectangular sunk key
with a head at one end known as gib
head. It is usually provided to facilitate the
removal of key.
Feather key. A key attached to one member of a pair which
permits relative axial movement is known as feather key.
It is a special type of parallel key which transmits a turning
moment and also permits axial movement.
It is fastened either to the shaft or hub, the key being a sliding
fit in the key way of the moving piece.
The various proportions of a feather key are same as that of
rectangular sunk key and gib head key.
Woodruff key. The woodruff key is an easily adjustable key. It
is a piece from a cylindrical disc having segmental cross-
section in front view as shown in the figure.
This key is largely used in machine tool and automobile
The main advantages of a woodruff key are as follows :
1. It accommodates itself to any taper in the hub of the
mating piece.
2. It is useful on tapering shaft ends. Its extra depth in the shaft
prevents any tendency to turn over in its keyway.
The disadvantages are :
1. The depth of the keyway weakens the shaft.
2. It can not be used as a feather.
Saddle Keys
1. Flat saddle key, and 2. Hollow saddle key
A flat saddle key is a taper key which fits in a keyway in
the hub and is flat on the shaft as shown. It is likely to slip
round the shaft under load. Therefore it is used for
comparatively light loads.
A hollow saddle key is a taper key which fits in a keyway in
the hub and the bottom of the key is shaped to fit the
curved surface of the shaft. Since hollow saddle keys hold
on by friction, therefore these are suitable for light loads. It
is usually used as a temporary fastening in fixing and
setting eccentrics, cams etc.
Tangent Keys
The tangent keys are fitted in pair at right angles as
shown. Each key is to withstand torsion in one
direction only. These are used in large heavy duty
Round Keys
The round keys, as shown in the figure are circular in
section and fit into holes drilled partly in the shaft and
partly in the hub.
They have the advantage that their keyways may be
drilled and reamed after the mating parts have been
Round keys are usually considered to be most
appropriate for low power drives.
Sometimes the tapered pin is held in place by the friction
between the pin and the reamed tapered holes.
Sometimes, keys are
made integral with the
shaft which fits in the
keyways broached in the
hub. Such shafts are
known as splined shafts.
These shafts usually have
four, six, ten or sixteen
The splined shafts are
relatively stronger than
shafts having a single
The splined shafts are
used when the force to
be transmitted is large in
proportion to the size of
the shaft as in
automobile transmission
and sliding gear
Forces acting on a Sunk Key
1. Force due to fit of the key in its keyway, as in a tight fitting straight
key or in a tapered key driven in place. These forces produce
compressive stresses in the key which are difficult to determine in
2. Force (F) due to the torque transmitted by the shaft. These forces
produce shearing and compressive (or crushing) stresses in the key.

In designing a key, forces due to fit of the key are neglected and it is
assumed that the distribution of forces along the length of key is
Strength of a Sunk Key
Let :
T Torque transmitted by the shaft,
F Tangential force acting at
the circumference of the shaft, Due to power transmitted by the shaft,
d Diameter of shaft, the key may fail by
L Length of key, crushing or shearing.
w Width of key. F
S s ; Ar resisting area
t Thickness of key, and Ar
S s , SC Shear and crushing F S s Ar S s Lw
stresses for the material of key. d
T torque trasmitted by shaft F
T S s Lw
SC ; Ar resisting area
T torque trasmitted by shaft F
t d
2 2
For the key to be equally strong in shearing and crushing,
d t d
S s L w SC L
2 2 2
w SC The permissible crushing stress for the usual key

t 2S s material is at least twice the permissible shearing
stress. In other words, a square key is equally
strong in shearing and crushing.
In order to find the length of the key to transmit full power of the
shaft, the shearing strength of the key is equal to the torsional shear
strength of the shaft.
From shear stress for key : T S S Lw
From torsional shear stress for the shaft :
16T S s1d 3
S s1 3 T
d 16
d S s1d

S S Lw
2 16
S s1 d
d When the key material is
L ; for sunk key, w
8 wS s 4 same as that of the shaft,
d S s1 S s1 then S s S s1 .
L 1.571d
2 Ss Ss L 1.571 d
Sample Problem 1
Designthe rectangular key for a shaft of 50 mm
diameter. The shearing and crushing stresses for
the key material are 42 MPa and 70 MPa.

Given :
d 50mm
S s 42 N 2 ; S C 70
mm mm 2
From Table, for d 50mm :
w width of key 16mm
t thickness of key 10mm
Considering shearing of the key :
T S s Lw
The torsional shearing strength of the shaft :
S sd 3
d S sd
S s Lw
2 16
d 2 502
L 61.36mm
8w 8 16
Considering crushing of the key :
t d

2 2
The torsional shearing strength of the shaft :
S sd 3
t d S sd
2 2 16
d 2 S s 502 42
L 117.81mm 120mm
4t SC 410 70
Sample Problem 2
A 45 mm diameter shaft is made of steel with a yield
strength of 400 MPa. A parallel key of size 14 mm wide and
9 mm thick made of steel with a yield strength of 340 MPa
is to be used. Find the required length of key, if the shaft is
loaded to transmit the maximum permissible torque.
Assume a factor of safety of 2.

Given :
d 45mm
S yshaft 400 N 2 ; S ykey 340 N
mm mm 2
w width of key 14mm
t thickness of key 9mm
N factor of safety 2
0.6 S y
S sallow
0.6400 N
For shaft : S sallow 120
2 mm 2
0.6340 N
For key : S sallow 102
2 mm 2
S y 340 N
SCallow 170
N 2 mm 2
Consider failure due shearing of the key :
T S s Lw
The torsional shearing strength of the shaft :
S sd 3
d S s shaft d 3
S s key Lw
2 16
d 2 S s shaft 452 120
L 102 66.82mm
8w S s key 814
Consider failure due to crushing of the key :
t d
2 2
The torsional shearing strength of the shaft :
S sd 3
t d S s shaft d 3
SC key L
2 2 16
d 2 S s shaft 452 120
L 124.74mm
4t SC key 49 170
Use the larger value, L 124.74 125mm
Design of Key

In design, the stress equation to be used should

be based on the strength of the weakest of the
three parts namely: the shaft, key, or the hub.
Sample Problem 3
A cast iron pulley is to be keyed to a 2 -in shaft, made of
wrought steel 1040, cold drawn and it is to transmit 100hp
at 200 rpm. A flat key of cold-finished C1020 is to be used.
The drive is expected to be subjected to quite minor
vibrations, so that a design factor of 1.75 appears
reasonable. Specify a suitable length of key.

From AT 10 : for wrought steel 1040, S y 85000 psi

From AT 7 : AISI C1020, cold - drawn S y 66000 psi
Since, we know that compressive strength of the cast iron is greater
than that of the key material, the design stresses are :
0.6 S y 0.666000 S y 66000
Ss ; SC
N 1.75 N 1.75
Torque transmitted :
63025 31512.5in lbs
N 200rpm
From AT 19 (Key Dimensions, English Units) :
For d 2 1 2 " shaft diameter , w 5 8 " and t 7 16 "
Consider failure of key by shearing :
S s Lw T
231512.5in lbs
L 1.78in
0.666000 psi 5

8 in 2
1 in

Consider failure of key by crushing or compression :
t d
2 2
22 31512.5in lbs
L 3.06in
1.75 16
66000 psi 7
in 2 1 in

Use larger value of L 3.06 3 1 ".
Use L 3 1 4 " with 5 8 x 7 16 in. cross - section.
More Problems
A 2-in. shaft, of cold-drawn AISI 1137, has a
pulley keyed to it. Compute the length of square
key and length of flat key such that the key has
the same yield strength as the shaft does in pure
torsion. Would you discard either of these keys?
What would you recommend?
A cast-iron pulley transmits 65.5 hp at 1750 rpm.
The 1045 as-rolled shaft to which it is to be keyed
is 1 -in. in diameter; key material is cold-drawn
1020. Compute the length of the flat key and of
square key needed. Assume factor of safety of