In marine and shipping industries, joints and couplings are used. A universal joint is a positive, mechanical connection between rotating shafts, which are usually not parallel but intersecting. They are used to transmit motion, power, or both. The most common and simplest type consists of two yokes, one on each shaft, connected by a cross-shaped intermediate member called the spider. The angle between the two shafts is called the operating angle. It is generally, but not necessarily, constant during operation. Good design practice calls for low operating angles, depending on the application. Independent of this guideline, mechanical interference in the construction of universal joints limits the operating angle to a maximum, depending on its proportions.
Apart from marine, they have other application areas in aircraft, appliances, control mechanisms, electronics, Instrumentation, medical and optical devices, ordnance, radio, sewing machines, textile machinery, and tool drives. Universal joints are available in steel or in thermoplastic body members. Universal joints made of steel have the maximum load-carrying capacity for a given size. Universal joints with thermoplastic body members are used in light industrial applications in which their self-lubricating feature, lightweight, negligible backlash, corrosion resistance and capability for high-speed operation are significant advantages.
A basic characteristic of the Cardan joint is the nonuniformity of motion transmission through the joint. The angular-velocity ratio between input and output shafts varies cyclically at two cycles per revolution of the input shaft. This fluctuation, which is accompanied by corresponding angular accelerations, increases with the operating angle and can be as much as 15% of peak angular velocity (in the case of a 30° operating angle). In selecting a joint the effect of these fluctuations on static torque, inertia torque and system performance need to be kept in mind.
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