The mechanical drive train comprises individual units such as motor, gear unit and driven machine. The coupling connects these component assemblies.
As well as the transmission of rotary motion and torque, other requirements may be made of the coupling.
Couplings are frequently chosen after the machines to be connected have already been selected. Thanks to a large number of different coupling assembly options, specified marginal conditions for clearance and connection geometry can be met from the standard range. The coupling also performs secondary functions, e.g. providing a brake disk or brake drum for operating or blocking brakes, devices to record speed or the attachment of sprockets or pulleys.
Couplings are divided into two main groups, couplings and clutches.
Clutches interrupt or limited the transmissible torque. The engaging and disengaging forces on externally operated clutches are introduced via a mechanically, electrically, hydraulically or pneumatically operating mechanism. Overload, centrifugal or freewheel clutches draw their engaging energy from the transmitted output.
Rigid couplings, designed as clamp, flanged or mechanism couplings, connect machines which must not undergo any shaft misalignment. Hydrodynamic couplings, often also called fluid or Föttinger couplings, are used as starting couplings in drives with high mass moments of inertia of the driven machine. In drive technology very often flexible, positive couplings, which may be designed to be torsionally rigid, torsionally flexible or highly flexible, are used.
Torsionally rigid couplings are designed to be rigid in a peripheral direction and flexible in radial and axial directions. The angle of rotation and torque are conducted through the coupling without a phase shift.
Torsionally flexible couplings have resilient elements usually manufactured from elastomer materials. Using an elastomer material with a suitable ShoreA hardness provides the most advantageous torsional stiffness and damping for the application. Shaft misalignment causes the resilient elements to deform.
Highly flexible couplings have large-volume (elastomer) resilient elements of low stiffness. The angle of rotation and torque are conducted through the coupling with a considerable phase shift.