In 1861, German engineer Nikolaus Otto developed the first gas-powered engine, providing an alternative to the steam engine. The world of engines would never be the same. Part of the power of the modern engine comes from the clutch.
Most people associate the engine clutch with manual-transmission cars. However, a clutch is an essential component in all kinds of engines, from cars (even automatic ones) to industrial machinery.
If a clutch isn’t just limited to manual cars, what do they do? You’ll understand every engine a little bit better once you know how a clutch works. Here are some basics to should know about the engine clutch!
What Is a Clutch?
Most mechanical devices that you might use today have a clutch. There are lots of different types of clutches, so everything from chainsaws to motor vehicles uses some sort of engine clutch.
A clutch essentially exists to help control the speed or movement of a motor. A clutch disengages a motor’s driveshaft, allowing you to pause an engine without actually turning it off.
In a car, the clutch lets you stop or change speed without shutting the engine off. It briefly breaks the connection between the engine and wheels to achieve this pause. In industrial equipment, the clutch lets you make necessary pauses while the machine’s still operating, such as by halting the movement of a conveyor belt.
How Does a Clutch Work?
As you can see, the clutch is an essential engine component. But how does it work, exactly?
A clutch operates in engines that use two rotating shafts. These shafts link the motor to the moving parts of the device. The clutch connects the rotating shafts, allowing them to either move together or to separate.
When the clutch separates the shafts, the motor is still moving, but the device’s movement stops. For example, the conveyor belt’s motor will stay on, but the belt itself will stop moving when the clutch is engaged. This allows for more efficient work without starting and stopping the engine each time a pause is needed.
How Many Types of Clutches Are There?
This question is actually impossible to answer with a specific number. There are many different kinds of clutches out there since the word “clutch” has a very broad meaning.
For example, the clutch of a car is very different from the clutch that some power drills have. Industrial clutches are designed to serve certain purposes, but also to handle specific torque requirements and load types. The right kind of clutch for each machine is essential for getting the job done.
How to Use Your Engine Clutch Knowledge
Knowing more about the engine clutch will help you keep your industrial machinery running smoothly. Now that you understand how a clutch works and what it does, you can see why clutch maintenance is so important.
Without a clutch, many machines simply can’t work. To keep your clutches in good working order, check out our full list of brake and clutch accessories!