Belt Drives – Types, Working, Selection, Advantages, Power Transmission

Belt drives are described along with different types, working procedures, selection, advantages, disadvantages, power transmission, etc.

Let’s explore belt drives!

What are Belt Drives?

Let’s understand the basics of belt drives!

Best Drives Basics

We are in the time zone where engineering innovations are on top priority. Every day there is a substantial increase in automation as well as effective advancement in the field of technology.

When it comes to core machine knowledge, the theory of machines holds massive importance in gaining knowledge about all the different aspects of power transmission effectively.

belt drives types working
Belt drives types working
  • Power transmission has its own fair share of history as it is being used for more than 250 years in one way or another.
  • In the initial stage of power transmission through belts, the use of flat belts which run on flat pulleys is quite popular.
  • The continuous growth of belt drives helped us in the best possible ways.
  • Later in the stage, V-groove pulleys are used for reducing belt tension. The advancement towards other types of belt drives keeps on regularly.

Requirements of Belt Drives

This article will provide holistic information about belt drives which are widely used in power transmission.

  • It is important to get an understanding of this kind of power transmission approach as it is among those which can be attained with low cost, simple installation, minimal space, and effective flexibility.
  • Belt-driven equipment is commonly used for all purposes.
  • These are also effective for usage as it can easily be obtained through any local distributors.
  • As compared to other options of drives these are less expensive and minimal maintenance.

We will discuss the core definition, kinds, materials, use, advantages and disadvantages of belt drive.

Belt Drive Definition

The belt drive is a component that is made up of flexible elements which help in power transmission.

  • It is specifically used to nurture or transfer the power from one system to another system.
  • This helps in transmitting power with the help of pulleys that rotate at different or same speeds.

How Does Belt Drives Work?

Basically, belt drives are equipped with two pulleys on which the belt is attached. The rotary motion or mechanical power is transmitted from the driving pulley to the driven one.

This occurs due to the frictional grip present in between the pulley surface and the belt.

  • The core working of the belt drives depends on both belts as well as pulleys.
  • The part of the belt which has less tension is known as the slack side while the higher one is called the tight side.
  • The pulling power of the belt generates the rotation of the driven pulley.
  • The generated tensions in the slack and tight sides of the belt mainly based upon the contact angle.
  • The belts should be arranged in a way so the slack side comes at the top while the right side comes below the pulley.
  • This kind of arrangement helps to increase the angle of contact of the driven side belt.
  • Though there are possibilities of slippage in the belt drives but this occurs only when there is lesser rotational speed.
  • This effectively reduces the power transmission.

The overall process doesn’t make it suitable for wide application as desired component of the power transmission system.

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Types of Belt Drives

When it comes to different kinds of belt drives we have mainly five prominent types that can be found.

While understanding the types we have to understand that these belt drives are made up of two critical parts, one is pulleys and the other is belts.

Here we are providing all the details regarding the types of pulleys as well as belts. The following are the types of belt drives:

  • Open belt drive
  • Closed or crossed belt drive
  • Fast and loose cone pulley
  • Stepped cone pulley
  • Jockey pulley drive

Open belt-drive

Open belt drives are the most popular kind of belt drives that are being used widely. In this the direction of rotation remains the same as the direction of driven and driving pulley.

  • In this kind of belt drive, the rotation of shafts remains in the same direction.
  • These shafts are arranged in a parallel direction.
  • The distance between the driven and driving pulley is high and the below side is known as the tight side whereas the upper side is known as the slack side.
open crossed belt drives
Open crossed belt drives

Crossed belt-drive

When there is a need of transmitting more power then these crossed belt drives are used. Though there is a limitation as it cannot run faster.

  • If ruins at a higher speed, then there is a possibility of wear and tear of belts.
  • In this, the shafts rotate in the opposite direction.
  • Wear and tear generated when there is rubbing action of the belt at the junction side.
  • To prevent wear and tear it must run at low speed and there should be more distance between pulley.

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Fast and Loose Cone Pulley

This arrangement of belt drives is equipped with two pulleys; one is known as fast while the other is loose.

fast and loose pulley belt drives
Fast and loose pulley belt drives
  • The fast pulley is attached with the help of keyed joint while the loose pulley has a free-running motion on the shaft.
  • The loose pulley is incapable of transmitting power.
  • Where there is a need of attaching numerous machines with one power source then this kind of arrangement is used.

Stepped Cone Pulley

In this kind of belt, there are numerous pulleys attached to each other in an adjacent arrangement.

  • These pulleys are of different diameters.
  • Stepped cone pulley belt drives are effectively used in those machines where there is a need of changing speed or gear patterns.
  • The same belt can be functional and we can shift to different pulley arrangements as per our need.
stepped cone pulley
Stepped cone pulley

Jockey Pulley

Jockey pulley is one of the arrangements in the belt drive that helps us to get an increased angle of contact in open belt drive.

  • These are basically used at the steering section of the systems.
  • The increase in the angle of contact makes it useful to obtain increased power transmission.
  • With this kind of pulley arrangement, one can get an increased and high-velocity ratio.
jockey pulley
Jockey pulley

After getting a holistic idea of pulleys on which belt drives are mounted now it is the time to get an understanding of different kinds of belt.

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Types of Belt

Mainly there are four kinds of belts which are widely used in belt drives. Following are some of them:

  • Flat belt
  • V belt
  • Circular belt
  • Timing belt

Flat Belt

Flat belts are equipped with rectangular cross sections.


Where there is a need for low power and high speed, these kinds of belts are used.


It has maximum efficiency and helps in the core working process. In addition to that it is somehow noiseless.


Improper alignment is the basic disadvantage. It needs proper alignment to produce effective efficiency.


V-belts are those belts that are manufactured in a way that it provides fast movement on a pulley. This flat belt is equipped with a shape that holds the low tensioning force which effectively increases the pulley sidewalls.


These kinds of belts are widely used for industrial purposes due to their low cost, minimal installation problems and numerous sizes.


It comes in different sizes which is one of the most important benefits of this kind of belt. These belts are best suited for serious loads as well as high starting can also run at high speeds.


One of the major disadvantages of this belt is the banned ones which may get turnover.

Synchronous belts

These kinds of belts are mainly equipped with a toothed profile that has an alignment with the adjacent grooves in the pulleys. These are essential to provide positive engagement that helps in power transmission.


These are used in those places where there is a need for positioning, indexing, or a constant speed. 


This kind of belt is capable of providing distributed load that helps in greater shear strength. This also helps in increased load capacity.


Alignment is one of the core issues. If these are misaligned in any way, then it may cause performance problems. Tension is also an effective parameter that helps in getting the maximum out of this kind of belt.

Link belts

These kinds of belts are equipped with removable links. These links are attached by a shape that has been twisted to another consecutive one.


These kinds of belts are used basically in the textile industry.


The basic advantages of link belts is its fast installation and vibration dampening attributes which makes it quite effective.


The cost of attaining and maintenance is quite high. While using it in high dust applications it should be covered.

Manufacturing Materials Used for Belt

It is very important to get an idea about the materials that are used for the manufacturing of belts. The following are the attributes that should be available in the materials:

  • Flexibility
  • Reliability
  • Durability
  • High tensile stress
  • High temperature resistant
  • Lesser weight
  • Resistant to wear and fatigue

The above attributes can be found in different materials. Here we are also providing an idea of different materials that are used for making these belts. There are different kinds of materials that are used for the manufacturing of these belts:

  • Leather belt: These are the most common types of belts used for different purposes. As the name suggests it is made up of leather. One of the limitations of leather belts is periodic cleaning and maintenance.
  • Rubber belt: The rubber belts are also made of fabric that is covered with rubber that provides effective layering. These are basically used in paper mills, sawmills, etc.
  • Cotton or Fabric belt: Fabric belts are effective and made up of folding fabrics. As per the thickness, it can be obtained by stitching.
  • Plastic belt: Plastic belts are cost-effective but these are prone to deformation under high load.
  • Balata belt: these belts are as same as the rubber belts but it has some of the attributes that make it quite effective. It can withstand acid also. The water-resistant nature if this material makes it suitable for wide usage.

How to Select an Effective Belt Drive?

After getting a holistic idea about the v-belts, there is a question that occurs in the mind of the user about how to choose an effective belt drive. For that the following attributes should be given preference:

  • Positive drive should be considered while choosing the effective belt drive.
  • The distance between the driven and driver pulley.
  • The transmission power between the system.
  • The design of shafts and other effective parts.

Advantages of Belt Drives

Belt drives are quite efficient as there are numerous advantages related to these. Here we are providing some of the basic advantages of these belt drives:

  • The installation of belt drives is quite easy. Apart from that it can easily be removed.
  • Cost associated with the implementation or installation of belt drives is quite low.
  • The simplistic construction of belt drives makes it quite suitable than other kinds.
  • The maintenance cost associated with this is also quite low.
  • In belt drives the need of lubricant is negligible, you don’t have to use any kind of lubricant in these.
  • It can drive power in any condition whether it is inclined, horizontal or vertical.
  • The power consumption factor makes it suitable and provides an edge over other methods.

Disadvantages of Belt Drives

Though the advantages are quite efficient, but these belt drives are equipped with some of the disadvantages that should be considerate before using them:

  • If you are using belt drives for power transmission, then there is more chance of power less due to slippage. Once in a while creep also happens which is quite a backdrop.
  • It cannot be used for short distances.
  • While using these you have to be ready for a preferred speed as it cannot go beyond a specific speed.
  • The life of these belts are low.
  • The chances of accidents due to breaking is more.
  • These belt drives work below a specific temperature. If it exceeds then the chances of breakage or wearing up are more.
  • The angular velocity doesn’t remain constant throughout the process.

Applications of Belt Drives

The belt drives are used basically for transferring power. It has effective usage in the mill industry as conveyors are the most popular usage of these kinds of belts.

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Those who want to get a holistic idea about power transmission through belt drives can get an effective idea with the help of this article. This article covers all the essential information about the bet drives.

The belt drives are preferred in most of industries and mills which have effective material shifting or load carrying works.  With this, it is quite easy to understand the holistic working as well as the advantages of this type of drive system.

While using belt drives alignment carries a very important part. Though there is lots of information about these belt drives which we can cover in further articles.

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