Belt Drives: Types, Advantages, Disadvantages

What Is Belt Drive? A belt drive is a looped strip 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.

Materials for belts – Leather, rubber, balata, fabric etc.

Types of Belt Drive:

The belt drives are divided into two types. They are open belt drive and crossed belt drive.

Open belt drives:

If both the driver and driven pulleys are rotating in the same direction then open belt drive is used.

Crossed belt drives:

A crossed belt drive is used to rotate driven pulley in the opposite direction of driving pulley.


  • Belt drives are cheap & simple.
  • They don’t need parallel shafts.
  • Belts drives are provided with overload and jam protection.
  • Machinery life is increased because load fluctuations are shock-absorbed.
  • They are lubrication-free. They require less maintenance cost.
  • Belt drives are highly efficient in use (up to 98%, usually 95%).


  • In Belt drives, angular velocity ratio is not necessarily constant or equal to the ratio of pulley diameters, because of slipping and stretching.
  • Heat buildup occurs. Speed is limited to usually 35 meters per second. Power transmission is limited to 370 kilowatts.
  • Operating temperatures are usually restricted to –35 to 85°C.
  • Some adjustment of center distance or use of an idler pulley is necessary for wearing and stretching of belt drive compensation.

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