Universal Joints: How They Work


Universal joints are a mechanism for transmitting power or rotational movement through two misaligned shafts. They compensate for misalignment between the shafts to keep the rotations of the shafts smooth instead of jerky. They are used in many industrial applications and there is a wide variety available through universal joints suppliers YB Components.

Here we explain the common universal joint designs and their applications, as well as take a brief look at their development throughout history.

Typical Universal Joints Manufacture

The centrepiece of a typical universal joint will have four points like a cross which then connect to two special connectors called yokes positioned at right angles to each other.

The most common type is called the Cardan or Hooke joint which features a yoke on each shaft connected by the cross-shaped ‘spider’ centrepiece. The double Cardan joint drive shaft reduces jerky actions even more efficiently by using two U-shaped joints connected to the centrepiece, with the second U-joint phased in relation to the first U-joint which helps minimise the changes in angular velocity.

Universal Joints Applications

Popular applications of universal joints include a variety of appliances, control mechanisms and electronics, as well as instrumentation, medical devices and ordnance machinery. They are also used in aircraft, sewing machines and textile machinery.

Universal joints distributors will offer different types, including some designs that are made of steel and others made with special thermoplastic components. Steel universal joints will have a greater maximum load capacity, while universal joints with thermoplastic components are lighter and produce less backlash, making them ideal for high-speed operation. The thermoplastic components are also more corrosion resistant and are often designed with a self-lubricating capacity.

History of Universal Joints

The idea behind universal joints has been around for possibly thousands of years. One of the first known uses was by the Ancient Greeks who used a version of the joint on their bolt throwing ballistae.

The name of the Cardan joint comes from 16th century Italian mathematician Gerolamo Cardano, who wrote about gimbal mountings which were the forerunners to universal joints. The alternative name Hooke joint comes from English scientist Robert Hooke, who was also the first person to visualise a micro-organism with a microscope.

The term ‘universal joint’ seems to have originated in the 18th century and was definitely in common use by the 19th century.

Universal Joints Distributors

As couplings, clutches and universal joints suppliers, YB Components can ship many such products fast and free all over the UK and the rest of the world. Local stocks are kept ready to go, and businesses in the local Yorkshire area can even benefit from same day delivery in urgent cases.

Universal joints manufacture brands available include Desch, Enemac, Falk, Jaure and Kauermann, among many others.

If you require any universal joints or want to know more about the universal joints manufacture process, then contact YB Components who are the UK’s leading universal joints suppliers.