Friday 6th February 2009

Towards the carbon neutral factory

So how can a simple item like a flexible shaft coupling reduce energy consumption for manufacturers?

In essence it is all down to how efficiently they transmit the required torque through a desired misalignment. Energy is lost in numerous ways as they absorb the three main shaft misalignment's of angular, parallel or skewed.

In most shaft coupling designs the misalignment is taken up by a series of pins or sliding surfaces which transfer the load and torque as they rotate. These couplings normally comprise of many parts, all of which absorb energy as they rotate.  However insignificant this energy loss may be when looked at singularly, when a factory has thousands of shaft couplings within its machinery, the total energy loss due to inefficiency can be quite substantial.

The helical beam coupling is an advanced and unique solution that generally exceeds the capabilities of common flexible shaft coupling designs.  Since it is manufactured from one piece of material, there are no moving parts that slide or require movement as the shaft misalignment's are simultaneously absorbed. The Helical coupling by the nature of its design is constant in its torque delivery and has low rail loads during rotation. It does not require lubrication and is silent during operation (noise being a indication of energy loss in other coupling designs).
The performance capability of each helical beam coupling is determined by six major characteristics: flexure outside diameter, inside diameter, coil thickness, material, number of coils, and number of starts. By altering these characteristics, torque capacity, angular and parallel misalignment capabilities and , torsional stiffness rates can be modified to suit specific specifications. Uniquely, flexible shaft couplings can then be tailored to the application saving energy in manufacturing and ensuring that the correct part for the  application is supplied each time. For example, why use a larger than required shaft coupling which will require a large motor to drive or indeed stop. The fact that the helical beam coupling is extensively used in space programs is a testament to its low energy requirements.