Shaft couplings are different from some other types of connectors because instead of just joining two parts, they actually transmit power from one end to the other on rotating shafts— this is their primary function. Several other features that they have are that they accommodate misalignment and create mechanical flexibility, they reduce transmission shock, and they protect against overload. Shaft couplings join two pieces of rotating equipment such as motors, pumps, compressors, and generators. Shaft couplings generally do not disconnect during operation, but there are torque limits; if exceeded, the coupling may slip or disconnect. There are numerous types of couplings styles; they support particular torque or power transmission and afford various misalignments.
Different couplings supply support for different types of misalignment: parallel, angular, etc. Beam couplings are used for applications in which torque does not exceed 100 inch-lbs. Bellows couplings do not accommodate as much parallel and angular alignment as a beam coupling, but they are great for positioning applications because they provide high torsional stiffness. Oldham couplings can handle high levels of parallel misalignment. Schmidt couplings are useful for shafts that are offset. Although clamping couplings aren’t good at handling misalignment, they are inexpensive and are zero-backlash devices. Disc couplings transmit power, have high torque transmitting abilities, and accommodate angular misalignment, but are not useful for managing parallel misalignment.
Chain couplings can transmit hundreds of horsepower and can handle small amounts of misalignment. Diaphragm couplings are used in high power transmission applications, like turbomachinery, and have the capacity to handle high torque transmission and high-speed orientation. Gear couplings have the ability to transmit high levels of torque, but diaphragm couplings have an advantage as they do not require lubrication. Grid couplings are capable of high torque transmission, have shock absorption, torsional vibration dampening, operate without lubricant, and accommodate various misalignments. Jaw couplings are used for motion control and light power transmission.
Particular couplings may be beneficial for different applications. It all depends on the direction of misalignment and its force, torque load, and power transmission requirements. While some couplings may offer benefits to all areas, they are not always necessary. Some applications only have one or two requirements and sometimes the costs associated with each type, or the material they are composed of, needs to be taken into consideration.
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