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What Is a Nylon Pulley?

By Sandi Johnson
Updated May 17, 2024
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A nylon pulley is a grooved wheel fabricated from plastic nylon resin. In terms of pulley machines and conveyors, a nylon pulley serves the same function as metal and wooden pulleys, offering counter pressure to make lifting or supporting loads easier. Typically, such pulleys are used where small heat- and corrosion-resistant pulleys are required for moderate loads or high speeds. Some instances where nylon pulleys are common include roller conveyors, belt-driven equipment, dumbwaiters, and certain types of lawn equipment.

Lawn mowers, for example, often use a nylon wheel mounted on metal bearings to serve as pulleys for drive belts. With such a nylon pulley, the groove is wider, with a flat surface to accommodate a belt, rather than a rope or string. Heat generated by lawnmowers due to increased speed and friction requires pulleys constructed of parts other than metal to prevent damage and heat-related injury. The heat-resistant properties of a nylon pulley allow it to withstand increased speeds, without warping like wood or metal pulleys, making it useful in numerous applications. Lighter weight and less expensive replacements further reduce production, shipping, and end user costs for such equipment.

Manufacturing environments and machines also use nylon pulleys where appropriate. Wood bearings are too porous to use near certain chemicals. Metal pulleys are more expensive, not to mention subject to corrosion and metal fatigue in certain environments. Choosing nylon pulleys in such environments allows for less expensive equipment, lower maintenance costs, and better performance in certain machinery. Provided the manufacturing process does not include chemicals known to attack nylon or fiberglass, a nylon pulley has a longer useful life than one of wood, metal, or other composite materials.

Replacing a nylon pulley is also typically easier than replacing other types of pulleys. Machinery and other equipment featuring nylon pulleys do not need time to cool down before replacement, since nylon resin and fiberglass-infused nylon do not conduct heat as readily as other materials. Similarly, most metal bearing nylon pulleys are lubricant- or oil-infused upon manufacturing, further offering protection from heat build up or conductivity. Conveyors and other pulley-driven equipment run smoother due to increased consistency in fabricating nylon pulleys.

Options for nylon pulleys include standard plastic nylon resin, fiberglass reinforced nylon sheave pulleys, as well as various bearing constructions. For example, lawnmower pulleys are typically fashioned of fiberglass reinforced nylon molded around sintered powdered metal. Bronze bearings are also common, with oil-infused bronze bearings capable of withstanding higher loads, speeds, and temperature than standard machined ball bearings.

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