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Mar 15, 2019 - Power Transmission 2019: Choosing the Right Clutches and Brakes

In the 21st century, power transmission is a vital part of any manufacturing, industrial, construction, and mining enterprise. Before we get started, let’s address a common question;



What is meant by power transmission? This is as intricate as it is indispensable and involves the transfer of energy from a rotating device to a non-rotating device using a brake or a clutch. As such, the transfer of torque occurs and mechanical overload is prevented.


Power transmission is essentially utilized to transfer energy from the location where it’s generated to the location where it can be put to good use. In our electrical age, the biggest challenge is enabling long-distance power transmission in an efficient, safe and cost-effective manner. Quality, highly durable power transmission clutches and brakes are hard to come by. This is why it’s integral that you do your research and approach trusted manufacturers like Eaton Airflex or Twiflex.


Clutch vs Brake Power Transmission Systems



A clutch device is one that deals with the engagement or disengagement of power transmission from the driving shaft to the driven shaft. That is to say, clutches bridge two rotating shafts.

The second non-rotating gadget is synched up to match the same rotational speed as the main gadget. The outcome is that both devices eventually function at the same speed.



In a brake power transmission system, the mechanics are slightly different. A transmission brake is one that is applied to the drivetrain instead of the wheels.

The second non-rotating device remains fixed, while the primary device gradually reaches a stop. The outcome is that both devices reach a stationary position, one after the other.

Are disc brakes better than caliper? It really depends on the application. Disc brakes have phenomenal stopping power. Caliper brakes integrate stopping power and modulation.

There are two modes of engagement; friction and jaw (or tooth).


Friction Clutches and Brakes

These utilize discs to transmit energy from the first rotating section to the second. The friction caused by the discs allows the brake or clutch to then generate torque. The discs are smooth flat surfaces that are connected to rotating and non-rotating members alternately. To arrive at the number of friction surfaces for your application, you will have to consider the load requirements on the clutch or brake.

When the discs exceed the torque capacity, the device will automatically slip. Another factor that causes it to slip is when the friction discs are squeezed by actuation, resulting in engagement or disengagement. The bottom line is that you will have a seamless transfer of torque from one rotating device to the other.


Jaw (Tooth) Clutches and Brakes

With these systems, a serrated tooth layout is used to absorb and transmit energy from one device to the next. Insteach of discs, the friction occurs because of the teeth, and this permits the clutch to transmit torque or the brake to keep the device static.


What is an E-Stop?

In high-traffic high-intensity industrial settings, safety is key. An e-stop is an emergency stop or kill switch that employs an emergency power off feature to turn off the machinery when it cannot be shut down the regular way.


How to Choose Between a Clutch or Brake

As seen above, brakes and clutches are mainstays in motion mechanics. To choose between a clutch or brake power transmission, you have to understand the mode of motion among other factors. We compiled a list to help make your decision easier:


Transfer vs Stop Applications

Clutch systems transfer torque, brake systems stop a rotating load.

Brakes are ideal for applications where the load has to be precisely stopped, thus stalling the motor in tandem.

Clutches are ideal for applications where the engagement or disengagement of a load is needed, while still keeping the motor running. The load eventually coasts to a stop.


Time Requirements

Does your application have time limits? If so, these must be compared with brake or clutch capabilities. For instance, a certain minimum time is required to get the clutch output speed to match the input speed.

Likewise, for a brake system, one must ascertain the time needed to get the shaft speed and the torsional load to zero RPM.


Motor Frame Size Must Be Matched

Certain horsepowers come with several frame sizes. For example, one-HP motors could have frame motors of either 6C or 143C.



Study the unit mounting. Both clutches and brakes can be mounted to a motor shaft or on the base. Their input will be through a belt drive, coupling or chain system.  


Number of Cycles

How many cycles will the transmission system be exposed to? You will have to measure the nature in which the heat dissipates to ascertain whether they are ideal for a certain application. If the cycle rates exceed 5 and are evenly spaced out over an hour, look into this as well when making a decision.


Coil Voltage

The final parameter is the coil voltage. The standard solutions are 6-V , 24-V and 90-V. The demand for these varies based on the market. For instance, in North America, 90-V is popular, whereas European circles opt for 24-V.

Irrespective of these, your manufacturer will be able to convert AC to DC should you request it.


Quality Operations Need Quality Products

Gordon Russell offers high-performing power transmission clutches and brakes from industry-leading suppliers; Eaton Airflex and Twiflex. We serve clients across Canada and always happy to include a complimentary consultation on choosing the right product for your machinery.

Caliper disc brakes, combination clutch/brake, spring applied drums - we stock it all! Contact us for a quote today!

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