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Low-Friction, Compact Joint Has Wide-Ranging Applicability
August 11, 2011

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    › Applications
    › Patent
    › Licensing and Partnering Opportunity
    › Contact Information

Researchers at NASA's Johnson Space Center have patented a small, compact two-axis joint that provides two degrees of freedom motion between connected components. The joint uses linear actuators to provide motion between the driven component and its support base, and pivots with minimal friction to maximize responsiveness. The innovation can be used in tight spaces where a high load capability is required, as well as in applications where penetrating the mounting surface is not an option or where surface mounting is required. Designed for use in spacecraft docking mechanisms, the joint can be used in a wide variety of mechanisms and mechanical systems and is especially effective where precise, smooth, continuous motion is required.


  • Compact: Features surface mounting capability with a flat profile
  • Non-intrusive: Requires no deep penetrations and minimal part thickness
  • Flexible: Allows the diameter of needle bearings to increase to accommodate larger loads without going deeper into an existing structure


  • Industrial robotics
  • Automobile steering and transmission systems
  • Aircraft control surface linkages
  • Assembly line apparatuses
  • Positioning systems
  • Motion-based simulators


Johnson Space Center is seeking patent protection for this technology.

Licensing and Partnering Opportunity

This technology is being made available through JSC's Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office, which seeks to transfer technology into and out of NASA to benefit the space program and U.S. industry. NASA invites companies to consider licensing this technology for commercial applications.

Contact Information

If you would like more information about this technology or about NASA's technology transfer program, please contact:

Technology Transfer and Commercialization Office
NASA's Johnson Space Center
Phone: 281-483-3809
E-mail: jsc-techtran@mail.nasa.gov

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Page Last Updated: January 16th, 2014
Page Editor: NASA Administrator