Altair Engineering has been awarded a US patent for the design and development of an ultra-short drive shaft for automotive applications.
The new drive shaft, invented by Altair Program Manager Jos Timmermans and colleague Jean Raymond, is designed for applications where the relative movement between the driving and driven shafts is limited. For these types of situations, typical drive shafts are too long and flexible couplings will not allow sufficient radial movement.
The Altair drive shaft is similar to a conventional drive shaft, except the diameter of the rotating tube, which resembles a brake drum more than a tube, is large enough to accommodate a U-joint, reducing the distance between the two U-joints in a drive assembly.
The benefits of the ultra-short drive shaft allow vehicle designers to reduce the drive shaft length by as much as six inches. This enables designers to either increase vehicle cargo loading area or to shorten the vehicle length.
Although the shaft was designed primarily for commercial vehicles such as buses, fire engines, ambulances and military vehicles, Altair says that it could be adapted to other applications such as machinery.