What Is a Machine Pulley?

Jean Marie Asta

A machine pulley is any type of pulley that is used in an industrial, automotive, commercial, or manufacturing machine. Any type of pulley, whether used in an engine crankshaft, a conveyor belt, or bicycle gears, is derived from the simplest forms of pulley systems. A pulley is comprised of one free spinning wheel on an axle with a belt, chain, cable or rope running over that wheel. One purpose of a pulley is for easing the total amount of work it takes for lifting loads, which is known by the term “mechanical advantage.” An array of different pulley types are used to operate a variety of machines.

A metal pulley and rope. Any pulley used in an industrial setting can be considered a machine pulley.
A metal pulley and rope. Any pulley used in an industrial setting can be considered a machine pulley.

One type of machine pulley is found in exercise machines. An inclined rail system exercise machine uses pulleys, where a person lies on an inclined sliding board and uses two handles to lift his own mass. The machine pulley is situated such that the machine’s handles are connected to cables that extend over and around two fixed wheels on axles. These cables are also connected to the board which is free to slide up and down on the rail system of the machine. Upon pulling the handles, the sliding board lifts and is pulled up, and drops lower when the handles are let go.

Washing machines use a machine pulley.
Washing machines use a machine pulley.

Washing machines also use a machine pulley to operate. This system employs a pulley that is integrally formed and a fluid ring to balance loads that are unbalanced during operation. It is also comprised of a rotating mounted conventional drum and a shaft that extends from it. This axially extended shaft defines the drum’s rotational axis. In addition, this type of machine pulley has a drive shaft in the motor that rotates and is mounted to the cabinet.

Bicycle gears are derived from pulley systems.
Bicycle gears are derived from pulley systems.

Another common type of machine pulley is an industrial pulley, which can be used in machines ranging from cutting saws to conveyor belts. In a circular saw, a machine pulley is employed because it offers advantages for the saw's speed, efficiency and clean cutting. Circular saws can be used to cut wood or metal and work by means of an electric motor that is connected to a pulley and gear system. This system is connected to one main shaft, which connects to the saw that protrudes from a certain gear box. The machine reduces the rotation of the electric motor because its main shaft operates at low speeds with high torque, giving the saw the necessary power and speed to cut wood or metal materials.

Pulleys often have a groove around their circumference that guides a chain, cable, belt or rope.
Pulleys often have a groove around their circumference that guides a chain, cable, belt or rope.
Automobile engines typically use pulley systems, such as those that work with the alternator, fans, water pumps, and timing gears.
Automobile engines typically use pulley systems, such as those that work with the alternator, fans, water pumps, and timing gears.

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