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What Is a Gearbelt Pulley?

Jean Marie Asta
Jean Marie Asta

A gearbelt pulley, also referred to as a timing belt, is part of a pulley system that utilizes aspects of gear pulley systems and belt pulley systems. The basic design of the gearbelt pulley system consists of a belt with grooves or edges sticking out from the inner lining. The axle of the pulley system also has these grooves, or "teeth," that interlock with the belt’s inner grooves to rotate around the axle's axis. This type of pulley system is used in many different fields, including manufacturing and industrial fields. The purpose of a gearbelt pulley is to provide a machine with a pulley system that does not rely solely on friction to operate.

In manufacturing, conveyor belts may use the gearbelt pulley as a means of transporting certain kinds of items from one place to another. While one axle — a cylindrically shaped barrel — drives at one end of the conveyor, another similarly shaped axle spins in synchronized motion with the driver axle. Each of these barrel axles has grooves that interlock with the inner grooves of the conveyor’s belt, driving the belt along the entire length of the pulley system. If the belt is long, however, it will have intermediate barrel axles that spin while supporting the weight of the belt.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The gearbelt pulley was once used in power transmissions for motor vehicles. Its belt was made of a strong and durable metal alloy that was resistant to tear and made with fine grooves that would catch and interlock with the axle of a driveshaft. Using this type of pulley system, however, proved to be disadvantageous because the power of the motor could be too strong for the gearbelt. Upon excessive power being applied to the motor, the gearbelt pulley would be destroyed and would need to be replaced. This type of pulley ceased to be used in cars and was replaced by belt pulleys that use friction.

When choosing a gearbelt pulley to use in a pulley system, the dimensions must be checked to ensure a safe and secure operation. One dimension to look for is the ratio between the driving axle and the secondary axle. Another dimension to consider is the length that the gearbelt should be to fit tight and snug around each axle. The last important dimension is the size and shape of the grooves of the axle and belt. These grooves must match each other to properly interlock and drive the entire gearbelt pulley system.

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