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Industrial equipment is commonly powered by belt drives because they are flexible, relatively inexpensive, simple to install and maintain, and require a minimal amount of space. In addition, belt-driven equipment parts are easy to obtain and replace, a fact that helps reduce downtime spent on repairs.

Industrial belt drives are used to transfer torque and aid in speed changes from one shaft to a another shaft. In all applications, the drive consists of one or more belts and a sheave/pulley relationship. Changing the diameter of the driven sheave/pulley alters the ratio and causes a change in the speed.

Drive belts are grouped into three basic classifications according to their cross-sectional design: v (vee) or wedge, flat, and synchronous (toothed or timing). Each type of belt requires a different type of pulley system. V-style belts match with a grooved pulley or sheave, flat style belts use a drum style pulley, and toothed belts match with a toothed pulley or sprocket.

Belt drives have following advantages over other drive types such as close-coupled, roller chain, and gear drives:

  • Economical to install and maintain
  • Reliable and trouble-free
  • Simple to design
  • Easy to install
  • No lubrication is required
  • Work in a variety of applications
  • Can be adjusted for any speed requirement
  • Quiet and operate smoothly
  • Pulleys are less expensive than chain sprockets
  • Long sheave/pulley life
  • Can act like a clutch and prevent catastrophic failure

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Content on this page was created using excerpts from the Power Transmission Handbook (5th Edition), which is written and sold by the Power Transmission Distributor’s Association (PTDA). The Power Transmission Handbook is just under 400 pages and is a valuable resource for anyone involved or interested in the power transmission industry.

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