Microblog: What is a Shaft Key?

Sometimes you will come across two Allen Bradley servo motors which seem identical except for one feature: one motor is marked “shaft key” and the other is marked “smooth shaft”. This can be confusing if you are unfamiliar with the terminology. So what is a shaft key?
A Shaft Key is a small element used in a joint to connect the motor more securely to a shaft, preventing the two elements from rotating relative to each other, and allowing torque transmission. The shaft key sits in a small slot cut in each shaft, which is called a keyway or keyseat.


Usually the presence of a shaft key is designated in the Catalog Number by position 8 on the catalog number chart, as shown below.

In the highlighted Position #8: “J” indicates the presence of a shaft key, “K” indicates a smooth shaft.

A Shaft Key is a small element used in a joint to connect the motor more securely to a shaft, preventing the two elements from rotating relative to each other, and allowing torque transmission. The shaft key sits in a small slot cut in each shaft, which is called a keyway or keyseat. It is important to check if your application requires a keyed shaft before deciding which motor to purchase.

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