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A universal joint, (universal coupling, U-joint, Cardan joint, Hardy-Spicer joint, or Hooke's joint) is a joint or coupling in a rigid rod that allows the rod to 'bend' in any direction, and is commonly used in shafts that transmit rotary motion. It consists of a pair of hinges located close together, oriented at 90° to each other, connected by a cross shaft. The universal joint is not a constant-velocity joint .
The main concept of the universal joint is based on the design of gimbals, which have been in use since antiquity. One anticipation of the universal joint was its use by the ancient Greeks on ballistae . In Europe the universal joint is often called the Cardano joint or Cardan shaft, after the Italian mathematician Gerolamo Cardano; however, in his writings, he mentioned only gimbal mountings, not universal joints