Flexible Couplings

A flexible coupling's function is to transfer torque from one rotating piece of equipment to another (connecting two rotating shafts) while simultaneously accommodating misalignment, movement, or deflection.

Misalignment is stated in degrees, and although flexible couplings and miniature flexible couplings are made to tolerate misalignment, severe misalignment between linked shafts can lead to a coupling and ultimately application failure.

A flexible coupling must meet all necessary requirements in order to operate at its highest level of efficiency. Requirements include performance, environmental conditions, service considerations, operation, torque (under estimations), misalignment (under estimations), torsional rigidity, inertia (angular velocity), shaft speed, backlash (positional accuracy), mounting, electrically isolating materials, and size envelope. If even one of these conditions is not met, there is the potential for anything from a minor inconvenience to a substantial financial loss or serious damage. 

Considerations When Picking Couplings for Servo Applications

Choose a coupling at the beginning of the design process to ensure you meet all the aforementioned requirements. Proper servo-machine function relies on having a suitable coupling. Couplings shouldn't be the last motion component considered. SDP/SI carries antivibration couplings, specifically designed to reduce shock and vibration in servomotor technologies found in the medical, automation, robotics, and semiconductor industries. For more information regarding considerations when picking couplings for servo applications, click here.

Backlash in a motion control application can be damaging to the operation, potentially resulting in a loss of positional accuracy. Flexible couplings with zero backlash should be utilized in these scenarios.

Consider the types of misalignments that are present in your application; for instance, Oldham couplings can sustain significant quantities of parallel offset but cannot accommodate any axial motion or angular misalignment. Helical couplings allow for axial motion, angular misalignment, parallel offset, and moderate torque capabilities. Flexible couplings transfer less torque than rigid couplings due to rigid couplings being manufactured from a solid piece of metal. However, various torque ranges can be achieved with the right flexible couplings.

Lastly, couplings can be constructed to break as a safeguard against a machine crash or hazardous overload; others continue to operate even if the element fails; for example, a jaw coupling continues to transmit power even if the rubber spider breaks down because of the interlocking hubs.

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