Torque Limiter

A torque limiter is a mechanical device that isolates the driving from the driven elements to protect mechanical equipment from damage due to overload. The torque limiter limits the torque applied either through slippage or by uncoupling the load entirely. Torque overloads are commonly caused by material jams or operator error and can cause costly downtime in high automation environments.

Torque Limiter Manufacturers

  • Zero-Max is a manufacturer of torque limiters and other overload safety devices. Zero-Max torque limiters are tamper-proof and once installed, the torque value cannot be changed, ensuring the integrity of the machine design. Zero-Max has created innovative solutions to servo motion control for over 60 years.

Torque Limiter

Torque limiters fall into the category of overload safety devices, and overload safety devices commonly include torque limiters as a component of their overload  protection.

A torque limiter can serve multiple functions within a mechanical design, often serving as a flexible shaft coupling in addition to its role as a mechanical torque limiter. Torque limiters are often made from heat treated steal to offer a longer operational life, and are commonly used in any industry requiring robotic or other automation solutions.

There are two basic types of torque limiters:

  • Decoupling: a decoupling torque limiter actually decouples the drive shaft when the torque limit is exceeded. This instantly relieves the torque entirely with no residual torque reaching the load, but has the disadvantage of requiring manual resets — though automatic decoupling torque limiters are available as well.
  • Torque Limiting: a torque limiting type torque limiter allows the drive shaft to slip, spinning faster than the driven shaft. The excess power is dissipated in the form of heat. Torque limiting types don’t require resetting, making them preferable in many application. The disadvantage of torque limiting types is the heat and wear generated by the friction.

While the mechanical torque limiter is the most common type within the industrial market, torque limiters are made in other types as well depending on the application. These include:

Magnetic: a magnetic torque limiter makes use of magnets mounted to the shaft. Magnetic torque limiters have the advantage of incredibly fast reaction speeds; however, they tend to have more backlash than mechanical limiters.

Ball detent: the ball detent torque limiter is a decoupling limiter, rather than a slippage-type limiter, and transmits force through hardened balls that rest in detents on the shaft and are held in place by springs. Too much torque moves the balls out of the detent and decouples the shaft.


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