What are Splines and How are They Used?

Splines are grooves or teeth on a drive shaft that correspond with scores or indentations on another component to transmit torque. Splines are optimal in applications that require both linear and rotational motion. Various industrial processes use splines to transfer torque along complex configurations. Some of the applications that need a spline include: heavy machinery, consumer goods, and industrial applications. In this blog, we will be covering the various types of splines, their uses, and their importance.

These tiny components are made of durable materials to reduce the possibility of deflection during application and use. Common materials used include: aluminum, brass, bronze, stainless steel, steel alloys, and titanium. Other durable materials often used to manufacture splines include delrin and nylon. Metal spline shafts are designed through a hot rolling or cold rolling process. These processes use pressure to roll and manipulate the metal into a desired spline design. While hot rolling uses high temperatures to form a malleable and durable spline, cold rolling involves forming the material at room temperature to produce a spline with incredible tensile strength, an improved surface finish, and greater precision.

Beyond the processes used to produce splines, they come in a variety of types, shapes, and lengths fit for a number of applications. For this reason, it is important to consider the torque demand and size requirements of your application. Often called spline torque shafts, such components are designed as one of two types of splines, or alternatively, a combination of both to transfer torque through a system. There are two types of splines: internal and external. The internal splines can be formed by either broaching or through the use of a spline shaper, and external splines can be formed by hobbing or by utilizing a spline shaper. There are seven main types of splines: involute, parallel, crowned, ball screw, serrations, helical, and spline nut.

Involute Splines - Involute splines have short, angular, and evenly spaced teeth that provide more surface contact, which produce a better torque. Additionally, their cut and fit reduce the risk of misalignment with mating segments. Involute splines are commonly used for fixed end connections between shafts and hubs.

Parallel Splines - Parallel splines, as the name suggests, contain short, equally spaced grooves that are radially and axially parallel.

Crowned Splines - Crowned splines are a type of spline that follows similar design specifications to the involute spline except that the male teeth have been modified to allow misalignment between the shaft and mating piece.

Ball Screw Splines - Ball screw splines are composed of equally spaced grooves made to form linear races with ball bearings. This construction allows for free linear motion regardless of the torque value. More than that, ball screw splines can be adjusted to allow longer travel. This can be done by incorporating channels on the outer spline to re-circulate the balls, allowing for torque to be transferred from a long shaft while traveling up or down the entire length.

Serrations - Serrations are a type of spline where the grooves are equally spaced to form a “V” shape, which is optimal for small-diameter shafts.

Helical Splines - Helical splines are a type of spline featuring grooves that form a helix. This is beneficial in applications that operate under a high load. Moreover, this design allows for both rotary and linear motion between the parts.

Spline Nut - Spline nuts are the last main type of spline that is made from a special alloy that has gone through a die casting process. Die casting is a process where the alloy is placed into dies under a high pressure and speed. Additionally, spline nuts are used alongside highly accurate shafts formed by a rolling process for added resistance.

You can find any variation of these splines in a number of applications including automobiles, aircraft, bicycles, as well as in commercial, defense, and industrial markets. If you find yourself in need of any spline type, helical, involute, etc., or a spline nut, spline torque shaft, or other various components, ASAP Aerospace Hub is the one-stop-shop for parts benefiting aerospace and defense industries. ASAP Aerospace Hub is owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, conducting business with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. ASAP Semiconductor is the leading distributor of electronic components with access to an inventory of more than 2 billion units in stock and ready to ship with short lead times and competitive prices. For a quick and competitive quote, email sales@aerospaceorbit.com; we are available 24/7x365.


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