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A clutch is a mechanical device which provides for the transmission of power (and therefore usually motion) from one component (the driving member) to another (the driven member). The opposite component of the clutch is the brake.

Clutches are used whenever the ability to limit the transmission of power or motion needs to be controlled either in amount or over time (e.g. electric screwdrivers limit how much torque is transmitted through use of a clutch; clutches control whether automobiles transmit engine power to the wheels).

Clutches are usually employed in devices which have two rotating shafts so we will use this as in the most basic example. In these devices one shaft is typically attached to a motor or other power unit (the driving member) while the other shaft (the driven member) provides output power for work to be done. In a drill for instance, one shaft is driven by a motor and the other drives a drill chuck. The clutch connects the two shafts so that they may be locked together and spin at the same speed (engaged), locked together but spinning at different speeds (slipping), or unlocked and spinning at different speeds (disengaged).

The rest of this article is dedicated to discussions surrounding types of clutches, their applications, and similarities and differences of such.


Friction Clutches

Friction clutches are by far the most well-known type of clutches.

Various materials have been used for the disc friction facings, including asbestos in the past. Modern clutches typically use an compound organic resin with copper wire facing or a ceramic material. A typical coefficient of friction used on a friction disc surface is 0.35ų for organic and 0.25ų for ceramic. Ceramic materials are typically used in heavy applications such as trucks carrying large loads or racing, though the harder ceramic materials increase flywheel and pressure plate wear.

Friction disk clutches generally are classified as "Push Type" or "Pull Type" depending on the location of the pressure plate fulcrum points. In a pull type clutch, the action of pressing the pedal pulls the release bearing, pulling on the diaphragm spring and disengaging the vehicle drive. The opposite is true with a push type, the release bearing is pushed into the clutch disengaging the vehicle drive. In this instance, the release bearing can be known as a thrust bearing (as per the image above).

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