What Is A Friction Hinge?

A friction hinge, or torque hinge, is a specialty hinge that gives resistance to the pivoting motion. They are typically used to control motion or hold a pivoting object opened or closed. The most common and relatable application is that of a “laptop hinge”. These motion control hinges are also known as:

  • Free position hinge
  • Positioning hinge
  • Torque hinge
  • Constant torque hinge
  • Friction clutch
  • Free-stop hinge
  • Stop hinge … if designed with an added torsion spring they are also called counterbalanced hinges or equilibrated hinges.

Friction hinges achieve their function by engineering the specific tolerances between the mechanical components. Additional material such as springs and lubricant are often employed to achieve the desired degree of resistance or damping to the hinge movement.

In some cases, the goal is for the object on the hinge to close completely at a desired degree of speed. In others, the torque is used to hold one or both objects to which the hinges are secured to in a specific position, not necessarily on a fully opened or closed position. When used to hold one of the pivoting members in place, they are designed to be moved by a force of a specific amount of torque greater than its rated torque.

Friction hinges are often customized or custom designed to meet the exact torque requirements of critical applications. Custom designs can provide one-way hinges, in which all the resistance is only in one direction; two-way hinges that have equal damping in both directions, or a combination of both. Design variables include lubricant viscosity, construction material, and degree of space tolerance between components to meet specific applications, such as medical, rugged, high or low temperature, or hazardous environments.

TorqMaster designs and manufactures Friction Hinges in various sizes and strengths. The majority of our designs are 360-degree hinges, meaning that the hinge components can rotate about themselves all the way around. The motion is usually limited by the mating components to which the hinge is mounted.

Pioneering hinge design in some of the earliest portable computers, TorqMaster has provided standard and custom configurations to many leading manufacturers over many decades.

We manufacture and deliver hinge designs that all feature long and stable cycle life. Our selection includes a wide range of size and styles that are easily mounted and installed.

Many of our hinges can be balanced – having the same resistance to motion in both directions – or unbalanced (asymmetrical) with the force to produce movement 30% less in one direction. We even have “one-way” designs where the torque in one direction is negligible compared to the torque in the other direction.

With plating and painting options to enhance corrosion protection of our varying designs, our hinges are utilized in many applications across a variety of industries.