A belt is a loop of flexible material used to mechanically link two or more rotating shafts. Belts may be used as a source of motion, to transmit power efficiently, or to track relative movement. Belts are looped over pulleys. In a two pulley system, the belt can either drive the pulleys in the same direction, or the belt may be crossed, so that the direction of the shafts is opposite. As a source of motion, a conveyor belt is one application where the belt is adapted to continuously carry a load between two points.
Power transmission 
Belts are the cheapest utility for power transmission between shafts that may not be axially aligned. Power transmission is achieved by specially designed belts and pulleys. The demands on a belt drive transmission system are large and this has led to many variations on the theme. They run smoothly and with little noise, and cushion motor and bearings against load changes, albeit with less strength than gears or chains. However, improvements in belt engineering allow use of belts in systems that only formerly allowed chains or gears.
Power transmitted between a belt and a pulley is expressed as the product of difference of tension and belt velocity:
where, T1 and T2 are tensions in the tight side and slack side of the belt respectively. They are related as:
where, μ is the coefficient of friction, and α is the angle subtended by contact surface at the centre of the pulley.
Pros and cons 
Belt drive is simple, inexpensive, and does not require axially aligned shafts. It helps protect the machinery from overload and jam, and damps and isolates noise and vibration. Load fluctuations are shock-absorbed (cushioned). They need no lubrication and minimal maintenance. They have high efficiency (90-98%, usually 95%), high tolerance for misalignment, and are inexpensive if the shafts are far apart. Clutch action is activated by releasing belt tension. Different speeds can be obtained by step or tapered pulleys.
The angular-velocity ratio may not be constant or equal to that of the pulley diameters, due to slip and stretch. However, this problem has been largely solved by the use of toothed belts. Temperatures ranges from −31 °F (−35 °C) to 185 °F (85 °C). Adjustment of center distance or addition of an idler pulley is crucial to compensate for wear and stretch.
Flat belts 
Flat belts were widely used in the 19th and early 20th centuries in line shafting to transmit power in factories. They were also used in countless farming, mining, and logging applications, such as bucksaws, sawmills, threshers, silo blowers, conveyors for filling corn cribs or haylofts, balers, water pumps (for wells, mines, or swampy farm fields), and electrical generators. Flat belts are still used today, although not nearly as much as in the line shaft era. The flat belt is a simple system of power transmission that was well suited for its day. It can deliver high power at high speeds (500 hp at 10,000 ft/min), in cases of wide belts and large pulleys. But these drives are bulky, requiring high tension leading to high loads, and are poorly suited to close-centers applications, so vee belts have mainly replaced flat-belts for short-distance power transmission; and longer-distance power transmission is typically no longer done with belts at all. For example, factory machines now tend to have individual electric motors.
Because flat belts tend to climb towards the higher side of the pulley, pulleys were made with a slightly convex or "crowned" surface (rather than flat) to allow the belt to self-center as it runs. Flat belts also tend to slip on the pulley face when heavy loads are applied, and many proprietary belt dressings were available that could be applied to the belts to increase friction, and so power transmission.
Flat belts were traditionally made of leather or fabric. Today some are made of rubber or polymers. Grip of leather belts is often better if they are assembled with the hair side (outer side) of the leather against the pulley, although some belts are instead given a half-twist before joining the ends (forming a Möbius strip), so that wear can be evenly distributed on both sides of the belt. Belts ends are joined by lacing the ends together with leather thonging, steel comb fasteners, or glued splices (with thonging being the oldest of the methods). Flat belts were traditionally jointed, and still usually are, but they can also be made with endless construction.
Round belts 
Round belts are a circular cross section belt designed to run in a pulley with a 60 degree V-groove. Round grooves are only suitable for idler pulleys that guide the belt, or when (soft) O-ring type belts are used. The V-groove transmits torque through a wedging action, thus increasing friction. Nevertheless, round belts are for use in relatively low torque situations only and may be purchased in various lengths or cut to length and joined, either by a staple, a metallic connector (in the case of hollow plastic), glueing or welding (in the case of polyurethane). Early sewing machines utilized a leather belt, joined either by a metal staple or glued, to great effect.
Vee belts 
Vee belts (also known as V-belt or wedge rope) solved the slippage and alignment problem. It is now the basic belt for power transmission. They provide the best combination of traction, speed of movement, load of the bearings, and long service life. They are generally endless, and their general cross-section shape is trapezoidal (hence the name "V"). The "V" shape of the belt tracks in a mating groove in the pulley (or sheave), with the result that the belt cannot slip off. The belt also tends to wedge into the groove as the load increases—the greater the load, the greater the wedging action—improving torque transmission and making the V-belt an effective solution, needing less width and tension than flat belts. V-belts trump flat belts with their small center distances and high reduction ratios. The preferred center distance is larger than the largest pulley diameter, but less than three times the sum of both pulleys. Optimal speed range is 1000–7000 ft/min. V-belts need larger pulleys for their larger thickness than flat belts.
For high-power requirements, two or more vee belts can be joined side-by-side in an arrangement called a multi-V, running on matching multi-groove sheaves. This is known as a multiple-V-belt drive (or sometimes a "classical V-belt drive").
V-belts may be homogeneously rubber or polymer throughout, or there may be fibers embedded in the rubber or polymer for strength and reinforcement. The fibers may be of textile materials such as cotton or polyester or, for greatest strength, of steel or aramid (such as Twaron or Kevlar).
When an endless belt does not fit the need, jointed and link V-belts may be employed. However they are weaker and only usable at speeds up to 4000 ft/min. A link v-belt is a number of rubberized fabric links held together by metal fasteners. They are length adjustable by disassembling and removing links when needed.
Vee belt history 
Trade journal coverage of V-belts in automobiles from 1916 mentioned leather as the belt material, and mentioned that the V angle was not yet well standardized. The endless rubber V-belt was developed in 1917 by John Gates of the Gates Rubber Company. Multiple-V-belt drive was first arranged a few years later by Walter Geist of the Allis-Chalmers corporation, who was inspired to replace the single rope of multi-groove-sheave rope drives with multiple V-belts running parallel. Geist filed for a patent in 1925 and Allis-Chalmers began marketing the drive under the "Texrope" brand; the patent was granted in 1928 (U.S. Patent 1,662,511). The "Texrope" brand still exists, although it has changed ownership and no longer refers to multiple-V-belt drive alone.
Multi-groove belts 
A multi-groove or polygroove belt is made up of usually 5 or 6 "V" shapes alongside each other. This gives a thinner belt for the same drive surface, thus it is more flexible, although often wider. The added flexibility offers an improved efficiency, as less energy is wasted in the internal friction of continually bending the belt. In practice this gain of efficiency causes a reduced heating effect on the belt and a cooler-running belt lasts longer in service.
A further advantage of the polygroove belt that makes them popular is that they can run over pulleys on the ungrooved back of the belt. Though this is sometimes done with Vee belts with a single idler pulley for tensioning, a polygroove belt may be wrapped around a pulley on its back tightly enough to change its direction, or even to provide a light driving force.
Any Vee belt's ability to drive pulleys depends on wrapping the belt around a sufficient angle of the pulley to provide grip. Where a single-Vee belt is limited to a simple convex shape, it can adequately wrap at most three or possibly four pulleys, so can drive at most three accessories. Where more must be driven, such as for modern cars with power steering and air conditioning, multiple belts are required. As the polygroove belt can be bent into concave paths by external idlers, it can wrap any number of driven pulleys, limited only by the power capacity of the belt.
This ability to bend the belt at the designer's whim allows it to take a complex or "serpentine" path. This can assist the design of a compact engine layout, where the accessories are mounted more closely to the engine block and without the need to provide movable tensioning adjustments. The entire belt may be tensioned by a single idler pulley.
Ribbed belt 
A ribbed belt is a power transmission belt featuring lengthwise grooves. It operates from contact between the ribs of the belt and the grooves in the pulley. Its single-piece structure is reported to offer an even distribution of tension across the width of the pulley where the belt is in contact, a power range up to 600 kW, a high speed ratio, serpentine drives (possibility to drive off the back of the belt), long life, stability and homogeneity of the drive tension, and reduced vibration. The ribbed belt may be fitted on various applications : compressors, fitness bikes, agricultural machinery, food mixers, washing machines, lawn mowers, etc.
Film belts 
Though often grouped with flat belts, they are actually a different kind. They consist of a very thin belt (0.5-15 millimeters or 100-4000 micrometres) strip of plastic and occasionally rubber. They are generally intended for low-power (10 hp or 7 kW), high-speed uses, allowing high efficiency (up to 98%) and long life. These are seen in business machines, printers, tape recorders, and other light-duty operations.
Timing belts 
Timing belts, (also known as toothed, notch, cog, or synchronous belts) are a positive transfer belt and can track relative movement. These belts have teeth that fit into a matching toothed pulley. When correctly tensioned, they have no slippage, run at constant speed, and are often used to transfer direct motion for indexing or timing purposes (hence their name). They are often used in lieu of chains or gears, so there is less noise and a lubrication bath is not necessary. Camshafts of automobiles, miniature timing systems, and stepper motors often utilize these belts. Timing belts need the least tension of all belts, and are among the most efficient. They can bear up to 200 hp (150 kW) at speeds of 16,000 ft/min.
Timing belts with a helical offset tooth design are available. The helical offset tooth design forms a chevron pattern and causes the teeth to engage progressively. The chevron pattern design is self-aligning. The chevron pattern design does not make the noise that some timing belts make at certain speeds, and is more efficient at transferring power (up to 98%).
Disadvantages include a relatively high purchase cost, the need for specially fabricated toothed pulleys, less protection from overloading and jamming, and the lack of clutch action.
Specialty belts 
Belts normally transmit power on the tension side of the loop. However, designs for continuously variable transmissions exist that use belts that are a series of solid metal blocks, linked together as in a chain, transmitting power on the compression side of the loop.
Rolling roads 
Belts used for rolling roads for wind tunnels can be capable of 250 km/h.
Flying rope 
For transmission of mechanical power over distance without electrical energy, a flying rope can be used. A wire or manila rope can be used to transmit mechanical energy from a steam engine or water wheel to a factory or pump located a considerable distance (10 to 100s of meters or more) from the power source. A flying rope way could be supported on poles and pulleys similar to the cable on a chair lift or aerial tramway. Transmission efficiency is generally high.
Standards for use 
The open belt drive has parallel shafts rotating in the same direction, whereas the cross-belt drive also bears parallel shafts but rotate in opposite direction. The former is far more common, and the latter not appropriate for timing and standard V-belts, because the pulleys contact both the inner and outer belt surfaces. Nonparallel shafts can be connected if the belt's center line is aligned with the center plane of the pulley. Industrial belts are usually reinforced rubber but sometimes leather types, non-leather non-reinforced belts, can only be used in light applications.
The pitch line is the line between the inner and outer surfaces that is neither subject to tension (like the outer surface) nor compression (like the inner). It is midway through the surfaces in film and flat belts and dependent on cross-sectional shape and size in timing and V-belts. Calculating pitch diameter is an engineering task and is beyond the scope of this article. The angular speed is inversely proportional to size, so the larger the one wheel, the less angular velocity, and vice versa. Actual pulley speeds tend to be 0.5–1% less than generally calculated because of belt slip and stretch. In timing belts, the inverse ratio teeth of the belt contributes to the exact measurement. The speed of the belt is:
Speed = Circumference based on pitch diameter × angular speed in rpm
Selection criteria 
Belt drives are built under the following required conditions: speeds of and power transmitted between drive and driven unit; suitable distance between shafts; and appropriate operating conditions. The equation for power is:
power (kW) = (torque in newton-meters) × (rpm) × (2π radians)/(60 sec × 1000 W)
Factors of power adjustment include speed ratio; shaft distance (long or short); type of drive unit (electric motor, internal combustion engine); service environment (oily, wet, dusty); driven unit loads (jerky, shock, reversed); and pulley-belt arrangement (open, crossed, turned). These are found in engineering handbooks and manufacturer's literature. When corrected, the horsepower is compared to rated horsepowers of the standard belt cross sections at particular belt speeds to find a number of arrays that perform best. Now the pulley diameters are chosen. It is generally either large diameters or large cross section that are chosen, since, as stated earlier, larger belts transmit this same power at low belt speeds as smaller belts do at high speeds. To keep the driving part at its smallest, minimum-diameter pulleys are desired. Minimum pulley diameters are limited by the elongation of the belt's outer fibers as the belt wraps around the pulleys. Small pulleys increase this elongation, greatly reducing belt life. Minimum pulley diameters are often listed with each cross section and speed, or listed separately by belt cross section. After the cheapest diameters and belt section are chosen, the belt length is computed. If endless belts are used, the desired shaft spacing may need adjusting to accommodate standard length belts. It is often more economical to use two or more juxtaposed V-belts, rather than one larger belt.
In large speed ratios or small central distances, the angle of contact between the belt and pulley may be less than 180°. If this is the case, the drive power must be further increased, according to manufacturer's tables, and the selection process repeated. This is because power capacities are based on the standard of a 180° contact angle. Smaller contact angles mean less area for the belt to obtain traction, and thus the belt carries less power.
Belt friction 
Belt drives depend on friction to operate, but excessive friction wastes energy and rapidly wears the belt. Factors that affect belt friction include belt tension, contact angle, and the materials used to make the belt and pulleys.
Belt tension 
Power transmission is a function of belt tension. However, also increasing with tension is stress (load) on the belt and bearings. The ideal belt is that of the lowest tension that does not slip in high loads. Belt tensions should also be adjusted to belt type, size, speed, and pulley diameters. Belt tension is determined by measuring the force to deflect the belt a given distance per inch of pulley. Timing belts need only adequate tension to keep the belt in contact with the pulley.
Belt wear 
Fatigue, more so than abrasion, is the culprit for most belt problems. This wear is caused by stress from rolling around the pulleys. High belt tension; excessive slippage; adverse environmental conditions; and belt overloads caused by shock, vibration, or belt slapping all contribute to belt fatigue.
To fully specify a belt, the material, length, and cross-section size and shape are required. Timing belts, in addition, require that the size of the teeth be given. The length of the belt is the sum of the central length of the system on both sides, half the circumference of both pulleys, and the square of the sum (if crossed) or the difference (if open) of the radii. Thus, when dividing by the central distance, it can be visualized as the central distance times the height that gives the same squared value of the radius difference on, of course, both sides. When adding to the length of either side, the length of the belt increases, in a similar manner to the Pythagorean theorem. One important concept to remember is that as D1 gets closer to D2 there is less of a distance (and therefore less addition of length) until its approaches zero.
On the other hand, in a crossed belt drive the sum rather than the difference of radii is the basis for computation for length. So the wider the small drive increases, the belt length is higher.
See also 
- belt-drive turntable
- belt-driven bicycle
- Belt track
- Conveyor belt
- Gilmer belt
- Lariat chain - a science exhibit showing the effects when a belt is run 'too fast'
- Poly chain GT carbon belt drive system
- Roller chain
- Timing belt (camshaft)
- "Belt drives, IIT Kharagpur". 1. NPTEL.
- By Rhys Jenkins, Newcomen Society, (1971). Links in the History of Engineering and Technology from Tudor Times, Ayer Publishing. Page 34, ISBN 0-8369-2167-4
- James N. Boblenz. "How to lace a flat belt". Farm Collector. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
- "Belt lacing patterns" (PDF). North Dakota Statue Univ.
- "Flat Belt Pulleys, Belting, Splicing". Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-04. Text " Hit N Miss Enterprises " ignored (help)
- Editorial staff (1916-04-15), "Radiator fans and their design", Horseless Age 37 (8): 324.
- Editorial staff (1916-04-15), "S.A.E. divisions exhibit activity", Horseless Age 37 (8): 322.
- DIN 7867
- Automotive Handbook (3rd ed.). Robert Bosch GmbH. 1993. p. 304. ISBN 0-8376-0330-7.
- "Pininfarina Aerodynamic and Aeroacoustic Research Center". Arc.pininfarina.it. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- John Joseph Flather (1895). Rope-driving: a treatise on the transmission of power by means of fibrous ropes.