A Clutch is a machine member used to connect the driving shaft to a driven shaft, so that the driven shaft may be started or stopped at will, without stopping the driving shaft. A clutch thus provides an interruptible connection between two rotating shafts. Clutches allow a high inertia load to be stated with a small power.
Clutches are used whenever the ability to limit the transmission of power or motion needs to be controlled either in amount or over time (e.g. electric screwdrivers limit how much torque is transmitted through use of a clutch; clutches control whether automobiles transmit engine power to the wheels).
In the simplest application clutches are employed in devices which have two rotating shafts. In these devices one shaft is typically attached to a motor or other power unit (the driving member) while the other shaft (the driven member) provides output power for work to be done. In a drill for instance, one shaft is driven by a motor and the other drives a drill chuck. The clutch connects the two shafts so that they may be locked together and spin at the same speed (engaged), locked together but spinning at different speeds (slipping), or unlocked and spinning at different speeds (disengaged).
A popularly known application of clutch is in automotive vehicles where it is used to connect the engine and the gear box. Here the clutch enables to crank and start the engine disengaging the transmission Disengage the transmission and change the gear to alter the torque on the wheels. Clutches are also used extensively in production machinery of all types.
When your foot is off the pedal, the springs push the pressure plate against the clutch disc, which in turn presses against the flywheel. This locks the engine to the transmission input shaft, causing them to spin at the same speed.
Clutch for a drive shaft: The clutch disc (center) spins with the flywheel (left). To disengage, the lever is pulled (black arrow), causing a white pressure plate (right) to disengage the green clutch disc from turning the drive shaft, which turns within the thrust-bearing ring of the lever. Never will all 3 rings connect, with no gaps.
In a car's clutch, a flywheel connects to the engine, and a clutch plate connects to the transmission.
The amount of force the clutch can hold depends on the friction between the clutch plate and the flywheel, and how much force the spring puts on the pressure plate. When the clutch pedal is pressed, a cable or hydraulic piston pushes on the release fork, which presses the throw-out bearing against the middle of the diaphragm spring. As the middle of the diaphragm spring is pushed in, a series of pins near the outside of the spring causes the spring to pull the pressure plate away from the clutch disc (see below). This releases the clutch from the spinning engine.