January 2015

Belden's expert team of design engineers and technical staff delivers innovative solutions for extreme applications. Our focus on customer needs enable us to meet challenging requirements and exceed expecations.


A customer was having a problem with a standard cross and needle bearing universal joint during the wash-down phase on the automation equipment of his food application. The needle bearing joint would absorb the chemical solution used twice daily to clean and sterilize the equipment. Once the alloy bearings absorbed the chemical compounds, gumming would occur causing the joint to run tight, lock up and fail. After discussing operating conditions and product specifications with the customer, Belden Universal developed a precision engineered hybrid of a pin & block needle bearing joint combination made completely out of stainless steel with composite bushings. The hybrid pin & block needle bearing design employs the higher torque capacity of the friction bearing with the needle bearing's ability to continuously operate at higher speeds with less wear, and even less backlash. The composite bearings can handle harsh abrasives found in the cleaning products used by the customer allowing the joint to operate freely and cycle for a longer duration before any precision is compromised. The Belden Universal solution provided the customer a completely wash-down safe universal joint, eliminating corrosion issues and contamination, burnout, and joint seizure.

Specialty Vehicles / 3D Printing for Prototype

Belden Universal continues to use 3D printing for in-house R&D and customer prototypes. ABS plastic 3D prototypes allow Belden and its customers to verify form, fit and aspects of functionality at a fraction of the time and cost of metal samples:

A Race Team was using a universal joint in the shift mechanism of the transmission and needed to modify the transmission linkages to accommodate the existing universal joint product on the market. The team contacted Belden to modify the length of the universal joint instead in hopes of eliminating some of the unwanted expense of reworking the linkages. After discussing the application in detail, Belden’s technical sales team developed a cost effective custom solution to drop in complete and quickly, saving the customer both money and time. Belden Universal Engineers modified the overall length of the assembly and machined the inside diameter to a tighter tolerance to secure the shaft and reduce unnecessary backlash. Belden printed and delivered a 3D prototype to the Race Team, enabling them to verify fit and form prior to full scale manufacturing from hardened and plated alloys, once again saving valuable time and money.

Ultra-High Vacuum Application

A customer contacted Belden Universal for a custom universal joint to be used in a newly developed ultra-high vacuum application. The universal joint was machined to incorporate a keyless bushing component and needed to be corrosion resistant, easily lubricated with a booted center section to prevent contamination that could withstand the high pressure nature of the application. A rubber boot kept collapsing under the extreme pressure of the application but a protective cover was required to contain the Krytox LVP High Vacuum grease and protect the knuckle of the universal joint, all while operating up to a 22 degree angle. Belden Universal’s R&D team developed a boot-like interlocking steel cover to replace the standard rubber nitrile boot consisting of two pivoting interconnecting pieces of stainless steel sheathing a majority of the universal joint. The boot concept was stringently tested and approved by the customer, and Belden Universal has added another product offering to its extensive list of custom solutions to meet or exceed customers’ application requirements.

Nuclear Energy

Belden Universal offers customized universal joints and complete drive shaft assembles for the Nuclear Power Industry. Nuclear Power has a variety of applications that require a manufacturer to comply with complex regulatory standards.

The Belden universal joint drive shaft assemblies in the reactor are the rotary actuation linkage which connects to valves that control the Recirculation System (RS) and the Circulating System (CS). The RS & CS Systems start when there is a buildup of steam in the containment area. The steam is cooled and the RS & CS System forces the steam to condense and turn back into liquid to reduce the pressure in the containment area. Once in liquid form, it is moved away from the containment area and put back in the system.

Glove boxes are a main component in protective work stations that allow operators to handle radioactive materials safely. Two types of glove boxes exist allowing a person to work with hazardous substances, such as radioactive materials and the other allows manipulation of substances that must be contained within a very high purity inert atmosphere. Remote glove boxes can control rotary actuation for use in plant maintenance functions.

Belden Universal has been successful in supplying custom universal joints and drive shafts for such applications as nuclear reactor safety valves and glove boxes to repurpose material for reactor fuel assemblies. Both projects have led to repeat orders and gaining new customers within the diverse segments of nuclear power.

Food Processing

A customer contacted Belden Universal about replacing an existing drive shaft assembly in a meat slicing system. The customer was currently using a universal joint marketed to be "zero backlash", but were still seeing inconsistency with the thickness and precision of the sliced product. Belden Universal’s goal was to help create a complete drive shaft assembly that would minimize the amount of backlash in the application and provide better slicing consistency because consumers have come to expect every piece in the package to be the same shape and thickness. While in development phase, Belden Universal engineers decided a “re-buildable” part would be best suited for the customer, allowing certain worn components to be replaced thereby increasing the life of the drive shaft and saving the customer time and money. Belden worked directly with the customer researching, designing and testing the drive shaft to ensure that the finished product meets expectations, upholding the quality reputation the customer is known for.

Aerospace – High Lift Actuation

A leading supplier of aerospace products turned to us with an order for torque-tube assemblies for high-lift actuation systems. Belden not only exceeded custom-design expectations of a highly-complex system based on simple envelope information - but satisfied the customer’s unusually stringent manufacturing specifications that go beyond AS9100 requirements such as layered drawings, foreign object damage control, measures of potential process capability of CPU/CPL of 1.33 or higher and many others. To ensure performance through vigorous testing for the required 25,000 flight hours with minimal backlash, Belden custom-built its own internal state-of-the-art testing machine, allowing us to perform our own in-house testing whenever necessary.

We can also custom-design and manufacture universal joints for a variety of applications including high-lift actuation and control mechanisms for aircraft where low deflection rates, high strength-to-weight ratios and long service life are essential.


Belden’s Actuator Connection Shafts, developed for an undersea oil valve actuator, illustrates a deep knowledge of marine applications. This specific installation was located on the sea floor, some 330 feet below sea level where valves were opened and closed by small submarines. To allow the submarines to perform this operation from a safe distance, the valves were fitted with articulated shafts to transfer the actuation movement and force to other parts of the system. The shafts were constructed like telescopes to allow change in length to adapt to small movements and relocation of the equipment’s position. The complete assemblies were also designed for easy disassemble, transportation and reassemble for refitting. Due to the extremely harsh underwater environment, Belden used a higher-grade stainless steel for the universal joints. The yokes of the universal joints were made of extremely corrosion-resistant 316L stainless steel. To prevent galling and to improve the joints’ friction properties, the yokes’ contact surfaces were PTFE-coated. The pins and blocks were also manufactured from 316L stainless steel and protected with grease-packed boots. To provide higher strength and improved wear resistance, Belden’s standard stainless steel joints have AISI 303 stainless steel yokes and AISI 416 steel pins and blocks. Standard single joints can be modified with a variety of stainless steel grades, including 304, 316, 17-4 and 15-5, to meet specific applications’ requirements. Diameters range from 1/2 " (13 mm) to 6" (153 mm) with a standard operating angle of 35°.


Belden has developed a miniaturized universal joint for a company that specializes in surgical instrumentation that needed a solution for a tool used in minimally invasive surgery. The surgical manual manipulator system required a joint to transmit the power from the handle to the connecting shaft. The surgical systems fill in the gap between conventional surgical instruments and surgical robotics. While conventional instrumentation does not meet the requirements of advanced endoscopic surgeons, robotic systems are too complex and costly for daily routine use. The instrumentation company's manual manipulator system represents a new class of surgical devices entirely focused on providing full freedom to operate and optimal ergonomics without the complexity of electromechanical robotic devices. The surgical system has been designed to improve endoscopic suturing and other surgical maneuvers and can be used for a wide variety of surgical procedures in different clinical specialties. The surgical system consists of two hand-guided surgical manipulators. Depending on the surgical task, graspers, scissors, needle holders and other devices can be attached to the tip and changeover only takes a few seconds. The system required a universal joint to transmit the power from the handle, which acts as a natural extension that emulates the movement of the hand, to the connecting shaft. The joint itself has an outside diameter of 8 mm to accommodate the space limitations of the surgical tool. A deflectable and rotatable tip provides all degrees of handling freedom. During design development, the customer requested a specialized hub configuration to ensure a secure connection and precise operation. By means of innovative manufacturing processes, Belden made modifications to the standard universal joint concept and delivered prototypes for testing. The final design now incorporates the universal joint and a component of the internal extension as a single piece, which was originally done as two separate pieces. To adhere to the sterilization regulations required by the medical industry, the universal joint was manufactured in stainless steel.


When it comes to military applications, your product must stand up to the harshest of environments. Recently, the development and manufacture of a complete shaft assembly for an amphibious assault vehicle demonstrated Belden’s commitment to tackle the toughest applications. Designed to withstand both nuclear and biological contamination, the joint yokes and shaft of the vehicle were constructed of 7075-T651 aluminum to provide a lightweight, high-strength, corrosion resistant solution. It was necessary to modify standard pin and block designs in various materials to create a custom assembly. The bushing and pins were made from hardened 416 stainless steel to combat corrosion and prevent galling and premature wear of the yoke components. The pin and block section of the universal joints were covered with neoprene boots to prevent contaminates from invading the assembly. The boots were molded specifically for the shaft assembly to protect the joints and provide maintenance-free operation for extended periods of time. The end result was a solid solution that met the customer’s exact application specifications.






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4100 Madison Street

Hillside, IL 60162