Belt Drives: Types, Advantages, Disadvantages

Belt Drives

A belt is a looped strip of flexible material used to mechanically link two or more rotating shafts. A belt drive offers smooth transmission of power between shafts at a considerable distance. Belt drives are used as the source of motion to transfer to efficiently transmit power or to track relative movement.

Types of Belt Drives:

In a two pulley system, depending upon the direction the belt drives the pulley, the belt drives are divided into two types. They are open belt drive and crossed belt drive. The two types of belt drives are discussed below in brief.

Open belt drives:

open belt drive
An open belt drive is used to rotate the driven pulley in the same direction of driving pulley. In the motion of belt drive, power transmission results make one side of pulley more tightened compared to the other side. In horizontal drives, tightened side is always kept on the lower side of two pulleys because the sag of the upper side slightly increases the angle of folding of the belt on the two pulleys.

Crossed belt drives:

Crossed belt drive

A crossed belt drive is used to rotate driven pulley in the opposite direction of driving pulley. Higher the value of wrap enables more power can be transmitted than an open belt drive. However, bending and wear of the belt are important concerns.

Advantages of belt drives:

  • Belt drives are simple are economical.
  • They don’t need parallel shafts.
  • Belts drives are provided with overload and jam protection.
  • Noise and vibration are damped out. Machinery life is increased because load fluctuations are shock-absorbed.
  • They are lubrication-free. They require less maintenance cost.
  • Belt drives are highly efficient in use (up to 98%, usually 95%).
  • They are very economical when the distance between shafts is very large.

Disadvantages of belt drives:

  • In Belt drives, angular velocity ratio is not necessarily constant or equal to the ratio of pulley diameters, because of slipping and stretching.
  • Heat buildup occurs. Speed is limited to usually 35 meters per second. Power transmission is limited to 370 kilowatts.
  • Operating temperatures are usually restricted to –35 to 85°C.
  • Some adjustment of center distance or use of an idler pulley is necessary for wearing and stretching of belt drive compensation.

Vinodh Reddy is an Editor-in-chief of ME Mechanical. He holds Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) degree in Mechanical Engineering from BITS-Pilani. He also writes for vrcworks.net and EduGeneral.

All Comments

  • Hey Vinodh
    I am chemical engineering graduate from Pakistan. I want to have calculation regarding gear power against a specific motor power for a conveyor. Let assume I have calculated motor power to drive a conveyor i.e 20 KW then what gear power should i recommend to reduce motor rpm from 950 to only 20?
    please help me in this issue.
    thanks and waiting your response.

    Engr.osama aziz Nov 10, 2015 7:41 pm Reply
  • marvellous work
    very useful and understandable

    teddy Jan 6, 2016 12:20 pm Reply
  • hey vinod we are working on motorisesd screw jack for operating load of 4905N , i also calculated the stresses, force & torque required to lift the load main issue is the motor required & will the motor supply power to gear arrangement or will it burn out???

    Nagesh Dhole Dec 18, 2016 12:09 pm Reply
    • Sorry, I am not able to answer your query.

      Vinodh Reddy Chennu Dec 20, 2016 8:03 pm Reply

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