What is a drive pulley?

A drive pulley is a pulley that is attached to a power source, that when in use puts force on a belt (or cable or chain). The belt is connected to the object being driven, which will then spin. This is a type of power transmission.If they are used with other components, they’ll sure make the job easier!

What Is A Drive Pulley Made Of?

Drive pulleys can be made of any hard/sturdy material – diecast, steel, and cast iron are the most popular choices.

All drive pulleys must have two components:

A round disk, often with the groove(s) around the circumference. This is the area where a belt or rope will ride. The belt will transfer the power to another pulley in the system.

A way to attach the pulley to a shaft in such a way that the pulley will turn at the same rate as the shaft. This is frequently accomplished with an attached hub, which projects out from the center and often has a keyway and/or set screws.


The drive pulley and the driven pulley are the same sizes

The speed and torque will be the same on both ends. You would only find this kind of system when the goal is just to move the power from one place to another.


The drive pulley is larger than the driven pulley

The driven pulley will be faster but have lower torque.


The drive pulley is smaller than the driven pulley

The driven pulley will be slower but will have higher torque.

How does a belt drive work?

In belt drives, power is transmitted between at least two pulleys by a belt. One pulley drives the belt (driving pulley) and the other pulley is driven by the belt (driven pulley). In belt drives, the speed is often reduced, so that in these cases the smaller of the two pulleys is the driving pulley.

The wrap angle is defined as the angle between the run-up and run-off of the belt on the pulley.

The larger the wrap angle, the more adhesive surface the belt has and the greater the frictional force or the force that can be transmitted. However, it must be noted that the pulleys of a belt drive are wrapped to different degrees by the belt if the pulleys have different diameters!

To increase the wrap angle and thus the transmittable force, idler pulleys can be used.

In order to increase the wrap angle on the drive shaft and thus ensure sufficient power transmission, a idler pulley was used.

In belt drives, the power transmission is generally friction-locked by frictional forces between the belt and the pulley.

In the case of friction-locking power transmission, the belt must be pressed against the pulley with a certain contact force. This is the only way to ensure that the frictional force is large enough to prevent the belt from slipping over the driven pulley or the driving pulley from rotating faster than the belt.

The maximum transmittable force with belt drives corresponds to the static friction force between belt and pulley.
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To ensure that wrapping is not reduced under load, the slack side should be arranged over the tight side.

It should be noted that the deflection of the slack side under load results in different wrap angles compared to the load-free state. The arrangement of the tight side and the slack side also influences the wrap angle. If the slack side is above the tight side, the wrap angle increases due to the deflection, while in the opposite case the wrap angle is reduced.


Some common places to see drive pulleys include:

  • Fans, both Industrial and Commercial
  • Mower blades
  • Snowblower augers
  • Industrial Drills
  • Automotive Alternators
  • HVAC

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Our Drive Belt Pulley

What Does a Drive Belt Pulley Do?

Torque: The amount of force in a system. For our purposes, more torque means a heavier object can be moved than with less torque.

Simple Machine: A tool or method that makes a single task require less work.

Mechanical advantage: When a machine makes the work for a person easier, it has achieved a mechanical advantage. It is very useful to measure how much a machine has, this can be measured by comparing the amount of force put in, to the amount of force achieved.


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