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What is a Slip Joint?

Alexis W.
Alexis W.

A slip joint is a mechanical connection between two elements that allows for motion but not disconnection between the components. This is done to keep the components from becoming separated, even though they maintain their own separate functions. Slip joints are used in a multitude of forms, from items as small as a pair of pliers to the movable components in construction cranes. Even the swing arms in structures as big as retractable stadium roofs use slip joints.

Another function that a slip joint is used for is to allow for a component attached to another by a slip joint to be adjusted from one position where it remains fixed to a different fixed position. Such joints also allow for the automated adjustment being made between two pieces. These simpler types of slip joints are typically used to make a mechanical device easier to transport by keeping the elements of the device from becoming separated while allowing them to decrease in overall size. Devices such as tripod legs or items such as telescopes employ the use of these simple slip joints.


More complicated slip joints are used on a much larger scale, such as those used in civil engineering projects. Structures like retractable stadium roofs require the use of slip joints to allow the roof panels to interact with each other without becoming immovably fixed to each other. In cases where two buildings are required to be conjoined through the use of a structure such as a skyway, a slip joint may be used as the means of connecting the two buildings without rendering them completely tied together.

Slip joints may be used when two buildings are built on foundations in an area where the ground frequently shifts or experiences earthquakes. Slip joints allow for the buildings to experience minute shifting without creating a break in either structure. This is due to the allowance of the “floating” skywalk that has been connected by slip joints to either one or both of the structures. No matter the size of the structure or the elements involved, a slip joint remains pretty basic in its primary function and purpose, permitting the movement of the two elements without allowing separation to occur.

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