Basic Guide in Choosing Timing Belts/Pulleys

September 27, 2017

Thanks to decades of engineering advances, even the most unexceptional machine is loaded with intricate inner workings. They operate independently or work in concert. How do these discrete parts work synchronously? Timing belts are the answer. Timing belts bring order to what would otherwise be a chaotic system, a mass of contradicting gears, camshafts, and pulleys, all trying to operate at once. Here’s a basic guide in choosing these system synchronizing belts and pulleys.

Timing Belts: System Syncing Fundamentals 

Unlike a standard drive belt, this elastomeric loop has additional geometry. Take a closer look. The teeth run along the inner surface of the flexible material. In pulley driven systems, one or more of these timing belts travels through the gearing assemblies where the pulleys are mounted. If we were to unseal one of these bearing mountings, we’d likely see the timing belt, a friction-mitigating bearing, and the pulley shaft, plus some kind of lubricating agent. In effect, the forces driving that pulley are meshing with the power transmission train that drives every other segment of the pulley-driven system. If the timing teeth are working according to their design specs, the movement of the pulley drums can be quite compelling, almost hypnotic, even. One pulley pushes, it stops, the next pulley swings around and picks up the slack. The entire mechanism, as we said before, operates like clockwork.

A Guide to Selecting Timing Belts 

How does that perfectly synchronized array of independently moving parts retain its meshing edge? First off, we need to know the factors that undermine this concerted action. Belt materials are the first potential culprit. If that material doesn’t suit its application, then the material loop won’t hold the load, nor will it sustain any of the initial/running tension that’s been decreed by the system’s spaced pulleys. That’s a drawback that introduces belt slippage during the pulley startup sequence. Next, tooth characteristics come under the selection microscope. The pitch and shape of the teeth, plus the number of teeth distributed across the flexible material strip all affect timing performance. Keep that tip in mind when a large pulley and its equally large timing pulley requires a new timing belt, for the pitch and tooth profile of the new belt must mirror the toothed layout on those pulleys.

Power optimized mechanical meshing comes readily when the correct timing belt is selected. A neoprene-based material loop, equipped with the properly configured peaks and furrows, is a likely candidate. The material resists the oily lubricants that grease the pulley drive shafts and bearing mount. Alternatively, there are also timing belts fabricated from metal chains. Employed in pulley equipment, these noisy metal loops require a potent lubricating solution to deter friction and mitigate sound propagation.

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