Rotary Unions vs. Swivel Joints: Understanding the Difference

In rotating systems that require the transfer of fluids or gases, two common components used are rotary unions and swivel joints. While they serve similar purposes, there are distinct differences between the two. In this article, we will explore the differences between rotary unions and swivel joints to help you understand which component is best suited for your application.

Function: The primary function of a rotary union is to provide a sealed connection between a stationary supply and a rotating component, allowing for the transfer of fluids or gases. It typically consists of a rotating and stationary element with channels or passages for the flow of the media. On the other hand, a swivel joint is designed to allow rotation between two stationary parts while maintaining a continuous flow of fluids or gases. It enables the transfer of media without the need for a rotating component.

Rotational Range: Rotary unions are specifically designed for applications that involve the rotation of a component, such as rotating cylinders, drums, or spindles. They can accommodate continuous rotation in either a single or multiple axes, depending on the design. Swivel joints, on the other hand, offer rotational freedom between two stationary parts, allowing for a limited range of rotation.

Sealing Mechanism: Rotary unions rely on various sealing mechanisms to maintain a leak-free connection between the rotating and stationary parts. These sealing mechanisms may include O-rings, gaskets, or mechanical seals, depending on the specific application requirements. Swivel joints, on the other hand, typically use ball bearings or other specialized sealing mechanisms to enable rotation while maintaining a seal.

Complexity: Rotary unions tend to be more complex in design compared to swivel joints. They often incorporate multiple channels or passages to accommodate different media or flow paths. The complexity of rotary unions is driven by the need to provide a reliable seal while allowing rotation. Swivel joints, on the other hand, are relatively simpler in design since their primary function is to enable rotation.

Size and Configuration: Rotary unions are available in various sizes and configurations to accommodate different application requirements. They can be customized with specific connection types, such as threaded, flanged, or quick connect, to match the existing equipment. Swivel joints, on the other hand, are typically more standardized in terms of size and configuration, as they are designed to fit between two stationary parts.

Applications: Rotary unions are commonly used in applications where a rotating component requires a continuous supply of fluid or gas. These applications can include rotary machinery, printing presses, machine tool spindles, and rotary index tables, among others. Swivel joints, on the other hand, find application in systems where rotation between stationary parts is required, such as loading arms, hose reels, hydraulic systems, and certain piping systems.

Maintenance: Both rotary unions and swivel joints require regular maintenance to ensure optimal performance. However, the maintenance requirements may vary. Rotary unions may require seal replacement, lubrication, and periodic inspection for wear or leaks. Swivel joints may need lubrication, inspection of the ball bearings or seals, and occasional cleaning to remove any debris or contaminants. Must visit: Nybpost

When choosing between a rotary union and a swivel joint, consider the specific requirements of your application. If you have a rotating component that requires a continuous supply of fluid or gas, a rotary union is the appropriate choice. If your system requires rotation between stationary parts while maintaining a flow of media, a swivel joint is more suitable. Consulting with a knowledgeable supplier or manufacturer can help you determine the best option for your specific needs.

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