Mechanical Brake and Clutch Assemblies Information

Bringing a clutch housing or hub together with a shaft or machined hub is second nature to TransForm.Mechanical brake and clutch assemblies are drive components consisting of mechanical brakes for slowing or stopping shafts and mechanical clutches for connecting or disconnecting shafts. Mechanical brake and clutch assemblies use levers or linkages to transmit force from one point to another. Engaging the clutch transfers power from an engine to devices such as a transmission drive wheels. Disengaging the clutch stops the power transfer, but allows the engine to continue turning. Braking slows or stops the movement of the coupled shafts.


Mechanical brake and clutch assemblies are used in conveyors, bottle capping, and in wire, paper, foil, film, and textile processing. They are also used for life testing on motors, gears, pulleys, belts, chains, and other rotating devices.


Clutch specifications for mechanical brake and clutch assemblies include torque rating, power, and rotational speed.

  • Spring-return clutches require power to engage.
  • Spring-actuated clutches require power to disengage. 
  • Non-contact clutches use methods such as magnetic fields and eddy currents.
  • Friction clutches generate friction between contact surfaces.
  • Wrap spring clutches transmit torque from the input to the output through a wrapped spring that uncoils to disengage the clutch.
  • Oil shear clutches achieve drive engagement through the viscous shear of transmission fluid between the clutch plates.
  • Sprags, steel wheels that tip in one direction to wedge between inner and outer races, are clutches that can often transmit more torque than other slip or overrunning devices.
  • Ball detent clutches feature a slip mechanism in which, upon overload, seated balls are dislodged and overcome springs or air pressure engagement.
  • Similarly, pawl clutches overcome spring or air pressure engagement and rotate out of their detent.
  • With roller detent clutches, rollers that are held in place by springs wedged between the inner and outer races to engage the clutch.

A variety of other engagement methods is available.

Brake specifications for mechanical brake and clutch assemblies include torque rating, power, speed, and maximum pressure. A variety of brake engagement methods are available, including friction, wrap spring, oil shear, toothed surface, and non-contact methods.

  • Band brakes, the simplest brake configuration, have a metal band lined with heat and wear resistant friction material.
  • Drum brakes, which are commonly used on automobile rear wheels, work when shoes press against a spinning surface called a drum.
  • Disc brakes are constructed of brake pads, a caliper, and a rotor. During operation, the brake pads are squeezed against the rotor.
  • Cone brakes are made with a cup and a cone that are lined with heat and wear resistant material. During actuation, the cone is pressed against the mating cup surface.


Selecting mechanical brake and clutch assemblies requires an analysis of measurements and mounting configurations. Important measurements include diameter, the cross-sectional width of the assembly; length, the dimension along the axis of rotation; and weight. Shaft configurations can be in-line along the axis of the load, parallel but offset from the axis, or perpendicular (right angle) to the axis. Drive and load connections for mechanical brake and clutch assemblies can use shafts that attach to bores or flanges. With some drive shafts that attach to a bore, the output is a drive component such as a pulley, gear, or sprocket. Often, these types of mechanical brake and clutch assemblies are designed to accept several different drive components. 

Related Information

CR4 Community—Hydraulic Clutch

CR4 Community—Clutch Problems

CR4 Community—It's Not the Clutch

CR4 Community—Recycle Your Brakes

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