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Auto and Industrial Clutches: What is the Difference?

If you have a car or run a manufacturing facility with an assortment of power equipment, one of the most critical components/ parts is the clutch. Although auto and industrial clutches do the same task, coupling and uncoupling two separate bodies of rotation, their operations differ slightly. For example, auto clutches are designed to run in a moving vehicle while industrial models operate in stationary machinery. If you are looking forward to buying a new or changing your car or industrial clutch, keep reading to understand the differences.

Industrial Clutches 

In industrial facilities, clutches are mainly used to help control the transfer of energy between two bodies, consisting of sprockets, gears, motor, sprockets, or their combination. Then, the driven components/equipment might be generators, compressors, fans, and pumps.

How do Industrial Clutches Work?

Industrial clutches can be classified based on how they are actuated. Based on this, we have electric, mechanical, pneumatic, and hydraulic. In most cases, the hydraulic and pneumatic clutches are combined.  

Another common categorization is whether the actuation method is used to get the clutch to engage or disengage. These additional methods yield two broad types of clutches, the energy applied and spring-applied types of clutches. In the case of spring-applied clutch, it implies that when no actuation power is exerted, the clutch transfers power. Therefore, the actuation force is used to disengage the clutch. See the demonstration below:

On the other hand, the energy applied type of clutch remains disengaged until the actuation force is applied. Common industrial clutches you will get in the market today include: 

Auto Clutches 

When driving a car on the road, you need a clutch because its engine spins all the time, but the wheels do not need to. This is why you can start the engine, yet the car is stationary because the driving shaft is not engaged. The clutch comes in handy in stopping a car on the road without killing the engine. Therefore, it is an important safety part that allows you to safely engage a spinning engine to start moving the car, change gear, or stop. A car clutch works because of three things; flywheels, friction, and clutch plates. See the demonstration below:

When you press the clutch pedal, a cable or hydraulic piston pushes the release fork that further presses the clutch release bearing against the center of the diaphragm spring. Then, a series of pins make the spring pull the pressure plate from the clutch disc. This immediately releases the clutch from the spinning engine or shaft from the engine. 

The springs on the clutch plate are used for isolating transmission from shock created when the clutch engages. Although this method works pretty well, the clutch plates tend to wear pretty fast.  Also, cases of sticking, which mean the clutch does not release easily, are also common.  

Now that you know how a car clutch works, the next question might be, "What are the main types?" If you are using a car with automatic transmission, it is likely to have several clutches, which engage and disengage different planetary gears. Other types of clutches you can get in cars in cars include: 

  • Multi-plate clutches
  • Single plate clutches 
  • Semi-centrifugal clutches
  • Dog and spline clutch
  • Cone clutches


As you can see in the post, the clutches used in cars and industries have evolved separately to cater to emerging needs. Although they perform the same tasks of helping to safely engage and disengage a spinning shaft, engine, or motor, it is crucial to ensure that only the model made for your equipment is selected. If you are looking forward to buying industrial clutches, make sure to work with experts and source them from trusted brands. The same case applies to auto clutches. Remember that they should also be installed well and checked regularly to ensure everything is working well.