Definition: A mechanical device that can transmit torque and/or rotary motion from one shaft to another at fixed or varying angles of intersection of the shaft’s axis.
The need for a robust automotive universal joint arose in 1903 when the common practice of using sprockets, chains and propeller shafts proved unsuccessful for a driveline system. Designs taken from inventors, Cardono and Hooke were developed into a universal joint system that could transfer torque effectively. Over the course of the evolution of the automobile small changes have taken place but the concept remains the same. General Bearing produces a variety of
universal joint (u-joint) bearing cups and bearing assemblies for use by our automotive customers. The cups and washers of the bearings are manufactured in General Bearing’s Ningbo China plant. Assembly and inspection are handled by the New York facility with the use of Kingsbury machines. These bearings utilize the most advanced materials and processes available to provide minimal backlash and precise positioning.
Loading, size, environment and sealing requirements are taken into account in the design of every u-joint bearing, and the design varies according to the specific requirements of the customer. General Bearing uses only the highest bearing grade steel in the components of the u-joint bearing. Bearing surfaces are precision ground to maximize bearing life, minimize backlash and reduce the noise in the vehicle. Excessive backlash will decrease bearing life as well as create noise that could be detrimental to the vehicle performance. The bearing cup acts as the outer race, transferring loads, while maintaining a clean environment for the needles and grease. Seals are designed to maintain a sealed environment for the life of the vehicle based on the customer requirements. They can be designed to have a double or triple lip depending on the requirements of the joints’ sealing characteristics. The seals can be designed to have a retention feature to aid in assembly.
General Bearing customers use our bearings in propeller/drive-shafts on every size vehicle from small automobiles to large heavy-duty trucks. A typical all wheel drive vehicle can have six universal joints in the driveline. Each universal joint utilizes four bearings. The number of u-joints on the shaft depends on the vehicle and the customer requirements. Universal joints are under development to be reliable at speeds of 8000 rpm and temperatures ranging from -40°F to 300°F. General Bearing supplies universal joint bearings to most automotive driveline OEM suppliers, and has developed many specialized bearings to meet customer needs.