In my previous article, I explained knuckle joint with its potential uses. A knuckle joint is suitable for connecting two intersecting cylindrical rods, whose axes lie on the same plane. In many cases, you might be required to connect shafts, whose axes (on different planes) are inclined at an angle to each other. In such cases, universal joint comes to your rescue.
This article explains universal joint with its advantages, disadvantages and applications. The sections of this article can be found below:
Important Note: The images of universal coupling shown in this article are for illustrative purposes. Depending on the type of application, the shapes of the parts of universal joint may vary
Universal joint is a positive mechanical joint used for connecting shafts, whose axes are inclined at an angle to each other. It is also known as universal coupling, U-joint, Cardan Joint and Hooke’s Joint. It compensates angular misalignment between the shafts in any direction.
Generally, in order to use universal joint, the inclination between the shafts should be less than 30°.
You can understand the parts of a universal coupling clearly by taking a look at the exploded view shown below. To know more about the parts, refer this article.
Exploded view of a Universal Joint
The two fork ends are assembled co-axially with respect to the centre block. The pins are assembled into the holes provided in the fork end. They are held in position by means of a collar and a collar pin. The assembled view of a universal joint is shown below. For a detailed understanding of the assembly of a typical universal joint, refer this article.
- Universal coupling is more flexible than knuckle joint.
- It facilitates torque transmission between shafts which have angular misalignment.
- It is cheap and cost effective.
- It is simple to be assembled and dismantled.
- Torque transmission efficiency is high.
- The joint permits angular displacements.
- Wear may occur if the joint is not properly lubricated.
- Maintenance is often necessary to avoid wear.
- Universal joint produces fluctuating motion.
- It does not support axial misalignment.
Universal joint has a wide range of applications. It is used in:
- Automobile propeller shafts
- Stone crushers
- Tapping machinery
- Centrifugal blowers
- Centrifugal fans and centrifugal pumps
- Belt conveyors
- Control mechanisms
- Marine equipments
- Metal forming machinery
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