RESEARCH PAPERS: Design Automation Papers

The Efficiency Limit of Belt and Cable Drives

[+] Author and Article Information
W. T. Townsend, J. K. Salisbury

Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

J. Mech., Trans., and Automation 110(3), 303-307 (Sep 01, 1988) (5 pages) doi:10.1115/1.3267462 History: Received December 30, 1987; Online November 19, 2009


Compliant belt and cable drives cannot approach perfect efficiency. Some friction loss in the form of belt/pulley slippage must be present. Thermodynamic principles may be applied to a simple control volume drawn around a belt or cable drive to show that there is a limit on efficiency. This maximum efficiency applies to all belt and cable drives. Chain/sprocket drives, though similar to belt and cable drives, may not be limited to this efficiency. Consequences of the analysis relevant to belt and cable transmission design are that: (1) multiple transmission stages degrade the total efficiency, and (2) it is best to maximize the cable or belt speed and stiffness per unit length for a given power transmitted.

Copyright © 1988 by ASME
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