In the simplest terms, universal joints are used to transmit mechanical power between two shafts when their axes are at an angle to each other.
Since it helps in torque transmission between shafts are varying angles, it's called a positive mechanical joint.
A universal joint cross allows driving torque to be carried through two shafts that are at an angle with each other. It keeps a shaft parts turning through a range of angles. It is a mechanical connection between rotating shafts which are generally not in parallel but intersecting each other.
Universal joints (also called Hookes joints) are used to allow torque (rotational power) to be transmitted through a varying angle. A typical use is in the propshaft of a car or truck, where the torque from the engine is fed to the rear axle. The axle moves with the motion of the suspension, but the engine is fixed to the body, so a universal joint is used to accommodate the movement.
Universal joints normally have to be used in pairs because one of their drawbacks is that they introduce a non-uniform change in rotational speed whenever the angle is not zero. A second UJ will cancel this effect. In some applications, such as a steering shaft, this effect may not be important and a single UJ can be used.
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