Advantages & Disadvantages Of Chain Drives

In this article, I will share with you the advantages and disadvantages of chain drives. Chain drives are essential when it comes to power transmission due to their capabilities.


The chain is made of rigid links that are connected to facilitate the ease of it wrapping around a sprocket wheel of the driven and the drive.


The drive wheel is the one providing the power to the driven wheel.


The wheel where the chains are wrapped around has teeth-like structures where the chain links fit perfectly.


The wheels with the teeth-like structures are called sprocket wheels or wheels.


The sprocket wheel aids in the movement of the chain drive transmitting power from one shaft to another.


Now, that you have an idea of what a chain drive is, let me share with you the advantages of using chain drives over a belt drive.


Advantages of using chain drive;

1. The chain drive has no slip.

The chain drive has no slip and this ensures a perfect velocity ratio is obtained.


The chain is perfectly linked to the sprocket wheel no matter the speed of the drive.


This enables the chain to stick on the sprocket wheel thus providing higher power transmission from one shaft to another.


This feature enables chain drives to be used in areas where no slip is needed like in motorcycles, agricultural machinery, bicycles etc.


2. They occupy less space compared to belt drives.

The chains are made of metal and they are smaller in width and this makes them occupy a very space within a machine.


When you compare a chain drive to a belt drive you will find that the chain drive occupies less space.


And this makes it advantageous when the use of the chain drive requires minimal space for the machine.


3. They may be used for a short distance.

With chain drive, you don’t need to worry if the distance between the two shafts is short.


A chain drive can perfectly transmit power at a short distance without any issues.


The short distance from which the chain drive transmits power from doesn’t reduce its efficiency.


4. Higher power transmission efficiency.

The chain drive transmits power with a higher efficiency (about 98%) which is better than the belt drive.


The only factor that enables chain drives to have such a higher efficiency is that the chain drive has no slip at all.


So, every rotation from the drive is utilized to the fullest and this contributes to the higher efficiency of the chain drive.


And this is one of the main reasons why it’s used in machinery equipment that performs frequent operations like material handling e.g the slat conveyor.


5. The chain drive offers less load on the shaft.

This is another unique feature of chain drive. You may think that chain drive offers a heavy load on the shaft since they are made up of metal but that is where you go wrong.


The small size of the chains is one of the factors that contribute to this feature.


Also, since they don’t have a slip when moving around the sprocket it makes them spend less time with the load on the shaft.


If the load spends less time on the shaft this means the load on the shaft is significantly reduced.


When you compared it with the belt drive; the belt drive is heavy due to its size, the speed is lower when you compared it with the chain drive and there is the issue of slip, which makes it offer a heavy load on the shaft.


So, this makes the chain drive a priority over the belt drive.


6. The chain drive can transmit power to different shafts by only one chain.

The structure of the chain and the efficiency it has enables it to transfer power to different shafts.


The chain is usually strong enough to handle a load of any size and this makes it easier for it to transmit power to more than one shaft.


When you compare it with a belt drive; this is impossible to happen.


The belt drive will stretch too much and it might even get cut due to the load on it also, don’t forget the issue of excessive belt wear too.


Disadvantages of chain drive;

Despite the amazing features of the chain drive it also has some limitations that you should know about.


These are the disadvantages of chain drive;


1. The initial cost of production of the chains is relatively higher.

The amount of money you will need to produce a chain will be more compared to the belt drive.


The high cost of the chains comes from their construction and the materials used to produce them.


You won’t be able to use any material when producing a chain, you will have to select a material that is corrosion resistant and very strong.


This will force one to use more money when it comes to the production of the chain.


If you compare it with the belt drive the price is very low.


2. The chain drive needs accurate mounting and maintenance.

This is another disadvantage of using a chain drive. With the chain drive, there is no room for negligence.


The moment you mount the chain wrongly on the sprocket wheel the whole system will not work.


You have to ensure that the chain fits perfectly on the sprocket for the power transmission to happen.


Failure to correct the mounting of the chain can also damage the chain drive system.


The other part is the maintenance of the chain; you have to ensure that the chain and sprocket are sufficiently lubricated if you want to ensure that your chain drive system works efficiently.


Poor maintenance of the chain drive will negatively impact the performance of the chain drive.


3. The chain drives sometimes have velocity fluctuations.

The chain drives have velocity fluctuations when the chain is over-stretched.


This is another disadvantage of using the chain drive.


If the chain drive has velocity fluctuations the power transmission will not be effective.


For this to be avoided the condition of the chain drive should be checked frequently.


If you have any questions leave your comment.


Thanks for stopping by at mechanical nerd. See you in my next article.


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  4. Causes Of Machine Vibrations
  5. Chain Drives Problems And Their Solutions

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