You want to join two shafts. What do you need? A coupler, of course. If the shafts don’t line up, you might consider an Oldham coupler. But what if the shafts are at a 90-degree angle to each other? Then you need a Hobson’s coupler. [Robert Murray-Smith] has the 3D printed hookup for you and a video that you can see below.
The part isn’t all 3D printed, though. You do need some bearings and steel rods. [Robert] proposes using this to couple a windmill’s blades to a generator, although we assume some loss is involved compared to a standard shaft. However, we’ve heard that the coupler, also called a Hobson’s joint or a stirrup joint, is actually pretty efficient. However, you rarely see these in practice because most applications will use a gear train employing a bevel gear.
While it may not be practical, the second video below shows an elbow engine that would look undeniably cool on your desk. By making some changes, you can create a Cardan joint which happens to be half of what you think of as a universal joint. The Hobson coupler and the Cardan joint seem to be made for each other, as you’ll see in the video.
We aren’t sure what we want to make with all these mechanisms, but as [Robert] points out, with new materials and techniques, these mechanisms might have a role to play in future designs, even though they have been mostly discarded.
There are, of course, many kinds of couplings. Then again, not all useful joints have to move.