There are many industrial processes in which the transmission of power between two pieces of machinery is necessary. The use of power transmission belts dates back the advent of modern process machinery; threshing machines, early manufacturing drives and a wide variety of other equipment all depended on power transmission belts.
Mining equipment, manufacturing machinery, automobiles and even small utilities like sewing machines require the use of power transmission belts. Because there is such a wide range of machinery in which power transmission belts are used, there exists an equally wide variety of power transmission belts to accommodate them. That variety includes very large endless belts for use in large equipment as well as small round belts for use in smaller equipment.
Transmission belts are manufactured to varying specifications. Heavy duty industrial belts are usually made of strong materials and can often be temperature and chemical-resistant. Lighter-duty belts can be made of less resistant materials, which can be less expensive and more appropriate for less demanding applications.
As technology continues to advance, the lifespan and performance of power transmission belts has increased greatly. The advent of synthetic rubber materials like neoprene, silicone, polyurethane (sometimes erroneously referred to as urethane) and others has expanded the horizons of industrial process equipment. The temperature, chemical and pressure-resistant properties of some synthetic rubber materials has allowed for the use of power transmission belting in applications that were once too demanding and inhospitable.
Improved belting technology has also contributed to the improved safety of the equipment in which belts are used. Reducing the likelihood of belt breakage reduces the chances of the cascading damage to other equipment parts that can be caused by belt failure during a machine’s operation. While it is still important to carefully pair a power transmission belt with its application, the combination of careful maintenance and proper operation will help to ensure the long term and efficient operation of the belt and the equipment with which it is used.