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Splines are ridges or tooth[1][2][3] on a drive shaft that mesh with grooves in a mating piece and transfer torque to it, maintaining the angular correspondence between them.

For instance, a gear mounted on a shaft might use a man spline on the shaft that fits the female spline on the apparatus. The splines on the pictured drive shaft match with the feminine splines in the center of the clutch plate, as the smooth tip of the axle is certainly supported in the pilot bearing in the flywheel. An alternative solution to splines is a keyway and important, planetary gearbox though splines provide a longer fatigue life.[2]