A rubber conveyor belt is a stretch of rubber that is tightly bound around metal cylinders called conveyors. These conveyors will move, thereby moving the belt in a single direction. The rubber conveyor belt system is often used in factory settings for transporting items from one location to another. An assembly line may use a conveyor belt system, as will automated packaging systems and other factory applications. The belt itself may be made entirely of rubber, or it may be made from rubber and other materials such as cotton or synthetics for a better grip.
The rubber conveyor belt itself is often made in layers; the top layer is completely rubber to ensure items do not slip as they are transported, and the bottom layer can be a combination of rubber and cotton or synthetic materials for better durability and prevention of excess stretching with use. The belt is cyclical, meaning it is secured upon itself at a seam. The cylinders are located inside the loop of belt, and they are driven by electric or gas-powered motors to drive the belt in a certain direction. The rubber conveyor belt can be multi-directional, allowing the direction of travel to be reversed at any time.
The direction of the rubber conveyor belt system can be changed by running one belt into another belt that runs in a different direction. This allows items to be transported around corners easily. The belts can also be oriented in an upward direction, allowing items to be gradually raised or lowered. Quarries often use rubber conveyor belt systems to transport rock and other solid material up to a higher elevation so it can then be poured onto a pile below. The belt orientation is adjustable to accommodate the pile as it grows.
The cylinders, known as pulleys, come in two varieties: drivers and idlers. A driver pulley is one that is connected to a drive system that propels the belt forward. An idler pulley is unpowered and is used primarily to guide the belt and provide support beneath the pulley when heavy items are placed upon it. A belt system can feature just one driver and one idler, or it can feature several of each type of pulley. Larger belt systems are very likely to feature several drive pulleys and even more idler pulleys, depending on the length of the belt and the purposes for which the system is being used.