One-way roller clutches: one idea, many applications

  • Roller clutches transfer a torque in one direction and move freely in the opposite direction. In neutral, they have a low frictional torque, which prevents drive system losses and saves energy.
  • Drawn cup roller clutches are used in a variety of industrial and automotive applications, including e-bikes, motorcycles, overrunning clutches and speed compensation devices
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Roller clutches transfer a torque in one direction and move freely in the opposite direction. In neutral, they have a low frictional torque, which prevents drive system losses and saves                        energy.

Sutton Coldfield, UK. 4th October 2016. Precision bearing manufacturer Schaeffler has seen an increase in demand for its one-way roller clutches, including applications on e-bikes (electric bikes) and motorcycles, as well as industrial applications in overrunning clutches for packaging machines and speed compensation devices for conveyor systems.

Roller clutches transfer a torque in one direction and move freely in the opposite direction. In neutral, they have a low frictional torque, which prevents drive system losses and saves energy.

Drawn cup roller clutches are high precision machine elements consisting of thin-walled, drawn outer rings (drawn cups) with a series of ramps on the inside diameter, plastic cages, springs and needle rollers. They can be used in a wide range of applications as backstops or overrunning clutches. Drawn cup roller clutches have extremely compact radial dimensions and carry out indexing from the locking direction in the freewheel direction. Roller clutches with bearing supports can also support radial forces.

Due to their low mass and the resulting low moment of inertia of the clamping elements, drawn cup roller clutches from Schaeffler are characterised by their high indexing frequencies. They also have a low overrunning frictional torque. As the needle rollers are individually spring retained, the shaft, needle roller and clamping surface remain in contact with each other at all times, which enables a high indexing accuracy to be achieved.

One-way clutches for e-bikes
Drawn cup roller clutches from Schaeffler are used as reliable one-way clutches for e-bikes, where they transmit high torques from the drive to the output components, for example, from the bottom bracket spindle to the chain ring. In central motor drives for e-bikes, drawn cup roller clutches perform an overrunning or locking function to decouple the central motor from the drive train. This is needed if the cyclist doesn’t require the assistance of the drive system, i.e. on a flat stretch of road or if the drive is deliberately switched off.

The HF, HFL and FRAX series of drawn cup roller clutches are particularly popular in bicycle applications. HF one-way clutches have an extremely compact design but have no bearing supports and so can only transmit torques. HFL series one-way clutches can also support radial forces due to the integral plain or rolling bearings. Both one-way clutch series are suitable for aluminium housings. Roller clutches with a knurled outside surface have the suffix ‘R’ and are suitable for use with plastic housings.

Protecting motorcycles
The FRAX series of roller clutches have a sleeve design with outer rings and integrated clamping ramps manufactured using forming methods, which improves manufacturing process reliability. Compared to drawn cup roller clutches with needle rollers, FRAX series roller clutches are capable of transferring much higher levels of torque. The compact design provides excellent power density, while simplifying assembly and mounting.

The most common application of the FRAX roller clutch is the E-starter one-way clutch for motorcycles. This forms the connection between the electric starter and the crankshaft. The one-way clutch safeguards the starter components from damage when the combustion engine is started and the engine speed exceeds that of the starter.

Roller clutches are also finding applications in automotive passenger cars, where they are used as one-way clutch discs for decoupling from irregularities in the powertrain drive, as well as automatic transmission converters, torque converters and hybrid transmissions.

Design calculation and simulation
In the automotive industry, minimising energy loss during the ‘engine idle’ phase has become increasingly important in reducing vehicle fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The friction torque from the roller clutch can be minimised by optimal spring loading: if the outer ring rotates, the rollers can even lift off from the inner ring, eliminating roller clutch friction.

To meet specific customer requirements, Schaeffler can develop custom designed roller clutches using finite element analysis (FEA) and its in-house developed design calculation and simulation software for rolling bearings, BEARINX®. The roller clutch can be designed to suit the customer’s components and specific torque requirements.

For more information, please contact Schaeffler UK’s Communications & Marketing Department on info.uk@schaeffler.com

About Schaeffler
The Schaeffler Group is a leading global integrated automotive and industrial supplier. The company stands for the highest quality, outstanding technology, and strong innovative ability. The Schaeffler Group makes a key contribution to “Mobility for tomorrow” with high-precision components and systems in engine, transmission, and chassis applications as well as rolling and plain bearing solutions for a large number of industrial applications. The technology company generated sales of approximately EUR 13.2 billion in 2015. With around 85,000 employees, Schaeffler is one of the world’s largest family companies and, with approximately 170 locations in over 50 countries, has a worldwide network of manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies.

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Contact:
Dean Palmer, Director, SilverBullet PR Ltd, Stamford, Lincolnshire, UK.
Tel. 07703 023771, email: dean@silverbulletpr.co.uk