How Sprag Clutches Work

Heavy industry parts are complicated. There are many different types of parts that are used on many different types of machines and equipment. But knowing the role of each one is the difference between carelessness and safety.

The sprag clutch plays an important role in heavy machinery. They have very specific use cases and can seem difficult to understand.

Understanding these clutches and nurturing an interest in this sort of subject matter may prove to be wise in the coming years, as manufacturing jobs are back on the rise in the United States.

After this quick read, we assure you that you will have a better understanding of exactly how sprag clutches work.

What Is A Sprag Clutch?

A sprag clutch consists of an inner and outer ring. Unlike other types of clutches, however, sprag clutches are perfectly smooth inside. There are no rims or ridges in this specific clutch.

The inner and outer rings are connected by small parts like steel wedges, which are referred to as sprags or sprag elements. Sprag elements are permanently in contact with both the inner and outer ring of a sprag clutch. They are placed at a specific angle that helps to create torque.

Sprag clutches are an important part of the smooth flow of heavy machinery. They are used across many different industries. However, this equipment isn’t just used for heavy labor, parts like this are also used in the creation of fun things like roller coasters!

How Does a Sprag Clutch Work?

The inner and outer parts in a sprag clutch are held together by individual elements called sprags, as mentioned above. When the inner part rotates in one direction, the sprags flow along with the spinning, and the part turns freely.

When the direction of rotation changes to rotate the other way, however, the sprag elements shift and hold the inner and outer parts together. This seems to lock into place and turn the entire sprag, once the sprag clutch rotates in that specific direction.

This works because the sprag elements are arranged in such a way that when the sprag clutch turns in one direction, rotation goes smoothly. In the other direction, because of their angle, they create a force that stops the rotation and holds the wheel of the sprag clutch in place. This force is called backstopping.

Want to Know More About Sprag Clutches?

Though a sprag clutch is different from other types of clutches used in industry, the result is the same as other types of clutches. The inner and outer parts are forced to hold, drive, or freewheel (or spin), depending on the direction the sprag clutch is rotating.

If you are more of a visual learner, check out this short video animation to see a sprag clutch in action.

Of course, for the safety of everything affected by heavy machinery, parts like sprag clutches must be engineered with the utmost care given to precision and quality. Contact us for help sourcing clutches and other parts when you need reliable quality.

Posted in Industrial Brakes and Clutches.