Gates Belts & Applications - Tips and guidelines written by Gates Industrial Engineers

Self-Generated Tension

Monday, November 12, 2012

posted by Phil at 1:32 PM


All synchronous belt drives exhibit a self-generating or self-tightening characteristic when transmitting a load. Laboratory testing has shown this characteristic to be similar with all tooth profiles. The designer/user should be aware that self-tensioning can result in increased bearing and shaft loads and reduced drive performance; i.e., short belt life. This can be avoided by following proper tensioning procedures.

While belt overtensioning can impose higher bearing and shaft loads and lead to reduced belt life, undertensioning can result in self-tensioning. Properly designed and tensioned drives will not be significantly affected by self-generated tension.

When a belt is too loose for the design load, the self-tensioning characteristic results in the belt teeth climbing out of the sprocket grooves, leading to increased stresses on the belt teeth, accelerated tooth wear and reduced belt life. When a belt is severely undertensioned, this self-tensioning characteristic can result in the belt ratcheting (jumping teeth). When this occurs, significant shaft separation forces are instantaneously developed in the drive, resulting in damage to bearings, shafts, and other drive components including the belt.

NOTE: This is true for all synchronous belts.

Maximum drive performance and belt life are achieved when the belt is properly tensioned for the design load and maintained.

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