Applications for Free-Wheel Clutches

GMN Sprag Clutches can be used for a vast variety of applications. From your everyday bicycle to a little known down hole oil drilling application. However, most Clutch applications can be categorized into three main areas, all further explained below: Indexing, Backstop, and Overrunning. Further below are numerous Clutch applications shown to help illustrate the wide number of uses and ideas where Clutches are utilized in various industries and products. If there are any questions on a particular potential use, please contact us for engineering support.


free wheel clutch indexing
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Indexing elements change an oscillating motion into an intermittent rotary motion; or reverse. The most common explanation of this would be an assembly line or automatically fed production line. As seen here a production line that needs to move to the next position but then stop, wait, and then proceed one position and repeat. This motion can be controlled and protected with the use of Sprag Clutches. Many types of conveyers, assembly machines, and production machines can utilize Sprag Clutches for the process or machine/personnel protection in case of motor/electrical failure.

Indexing Applications

  • Copiers: Paper Feeding
  • Furniture Production: Glue Roller
  • Food Production: Bottling Plant
  • Sewing Machines: Material Feeder
  • Automatic Winch: Controlled Raising/Lowering


free wheel clutch applications
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This Clutch application is most commonly used for safety in case of machine failure. This could be an escalator to an elevator, or even the PTO on a tractor. If a machine is lifting a heavy object and the power goes out, a clutch can hold the weight in place protecting all that is involved.

Backstop Applications

  • Conveyers: Stop load
  • Winches: Stop load
  • High Voltage Switching: Safety device
  • Textile Machine: Material feed protection
  • Industrial Fan: Motor Protection


free wheel clutch overrunning
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This type of Clutch application can take a couple of forms. The main one would be a reverse direction preventer to protect the machine it is mounted on. This is where the Clutch is spinning without being engaged, ‘Overrunning’, until failure occurs. At this moment the clutch would engage and hold the process in place. The opposite application would be when the clutch is engaged most of the time, but overrunning is required for successful operation. The most notorious application for this use is the bicycle.

Overrunning Applications

  • Conveyers: Speed Compensation
  • Mixers: Motor Protection
  • Motorcycles: Gear Box or Transmission
  • Packaging Machine: Spins Down Freely
  • Printing Press: Ink Roller Drive

Other Clutch Applications

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