Industrially and commercially, they are used in a wide variety settings, including: conveyor belts, commercial printers, automobiles, camshafts, stepper motors, farm equipment, compressors, washing machines, food mixers and more.
There are two main kinds of belt drives: open belt drives and crossed belt drives. Open belt drives rotate the driven pulley in the same direction and the driving pulley. Crossed belt drives rotate the driven pulley in the opposite direction of the driving pulley. In doing so, they create more friction, which allows them to transmit a higher amount of power. However, at the same time, this friction puts them at risk of wearing down more quickly.
Most belts are made from a polymer or rubber material. Examples include polyurethane and fiber embedded rubber. This fiber may be any number of materials, such as: polyester, nylon, steel or Kevlar. Fibers add qualities like strength to the belt.
Some of the different types of belts used in belt drives include: flat belts, round belts, V-belts, ribbed belts, multi-groove belts, timing belts, film belts and speciality belts. Of these, the most common are v belts and the least common are flat belts. V belts, also known as vee belts, v-belts, friction belts or even wedge ropes, are the standard for power transmission. No other belt provides as good a combination of speed, traction, bearing loads and durability.
No matter their type, belt drives offer a wide range of advantages. First, they cost less than chain drives. Likewise, they save you money because they require no lubrication. Third, they offer wide speed ranges. In addition, they are more forgiving and self-protective; they can still function with a limited amount of misalignment, whereas chain belts cannot function at all with misalignment. Another advantage is the fact that they act as a cushion against impact from load fluctuations and shock loads.