Selection Factors for Industrial Clutches and Brakes

With so many clutches and brakes products in the market today, knowing the best is hard unless in cases of personal experiences. Fortunately, by using a few factors as guidelines, users can choose clutches and brakes depending on their performances and designs. Along with several interfaces and structures, clutches and brakes possess varied actuation forces that control their interface action. In fact, these are the quantifiers or measures people use to select the best product.

The general agreement is that industrial clutches and brakes span a categorization technique involving their engagement and actuation methods. These rely on more expansive characteristics such as torque, response time, envelope size, configuration, control medium, repeatability, cyclic requirements, and thermal capacity. These factors can fall into two categories like mode of engagement and actuation. This article addresses the engagement aspect at large.


Above any other factor, friction is the favored means for general clutching or braking. Generally, friction facings are of several types of materials that depend on the application requirements. Metal chips often, brass, and aluminum on the facing material work to extend life and improve heat dissipation. It is also good to note that different industrial clutches and brakes have varied facing designs. They include drum clutches and brakes, band or strap brakes that are most reliable, and the simple disk-type clutches and brakes.


Industrial clutches and brakes that are not the friction types use electromagnetic attraction to transfer torque. They are widely applicable where positive contact is not an issue, such as on variable slip drives and soft starts and stops. One shortcoming to note is that they are not as rapid as the friction clutches and brakes. They also have varied designs and techniques of operation for different applications. Some of them include magnetic particles, Eddy current, and hysteresis clutches and brakes. All of them come with varied shortcomings and advantages; for example, the hysteresis is prone to wear and tear with short service life, while the Eddy current tends to run hotter than other designs.


The direct mechanical connection between input and output shafts is the most basic clutching method. They engage by metal-to-metal contact that does not rely on any friction surfaces. They also come in varied designs that span jaw-type, multiple-tooth, wrap-spring, Sprag, and oil-shear designs. Majorities of these industrial mechanical clutches come in one or more designs altogether, with many other advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, this plenty of choices gives users the option to use a clutch that satisfies their industrial needs.

The Bottom Line

Just like the mode of engagement, actuation works to realize the same end goal. Based on these two factors, users will have the pleasure to decide on the industrial clutches and brakes that fit their preferred application needs. Despite the many factors, friction is arguably the widely attribute that defines people’s choices, and most industrial devices and applications conform to this. Also key is to choose them based on speed need, maximum torque, response time, and the service life.

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