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sprocket is a simple mechanical wheel with teeth or small notches which are designed to rotate and engage with the links of a chain or belt. 

What is a sprocket?

They look very similar to gears, however they aren’t designed to be meshed together. Sprockets are used for various different applications including bicycles, cars, motorcycles, tools and other machinery.

They’re often made from steel, which is hardwearing so it increases longevity. Sometimes they’re made from aluminium as it’s lighter, making it ideal for motorbikes or push bikes, however it does wear quicker than steel.

How do sprockets work?

A chain or belt is used to connect two sprockets, with one being the ‘driver’ and the other being ‘driven’. Motion or force then drives them, which transmits power or changes the torque or speed of a mechanical system.

Sprockets with more teeth are able to move heavier amounts of weight, however they produce more friction, which reduces operating speed.

Common uses of sprockets

They’re regularly used on bicycles to pull a linked chain to turn the movement of the rider’s feet into rotation of the bike’s wheels.

Sprockets are also used on tracked vehicles such as tanks and farming machinery. They line up with the links of a track and pull them as it rotates, allowing the vehicle to move. 

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Implementation of Chain and Sprocket Drives in Industrial Applications

VChain and sprocket drives are used in many types of industries to move, slide, carry, push and pull a variety of materials. These drives can be used to move objects directly by attaching pockets, buckets, frames, or meshes to the chains. They can also be used indirectly, such as turning rollers, which in turn, move a conveyor belt.

  • Rigging and moving heavy materials
  • Hydraulic lift truck fork operation
  • Increasing or decreasing a driver’s output speed by altering gear ratios between the driver and the sprocket being driven
  • Overhead hoists
  • Operating conveyer belts
  • Conveying materials

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This means sprockets are designed to directly move something such as a chain or belt, so they work more independently, whereas gears create a network to increase strength and cause movement.

The differences can also be seen when inspecting the grooves of both devices. As gears mesh directly together, the notches could be on the outside of the wheel as well as the inside circumference.

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What’s the difference between a gear and a sprocket?

They’re both used to transmit power in machines or move other items by interlocking with them, but the main difference between a sprocket and a gear is how they work on a practical level. Both tend to be wheels with notches for use in machinery, meaning they look very similar, but the way they operate and what they do is different.

Usually gears are designed to link together to transmit movement to them, which then causes movement elsewhere. So sprockets normally work directly with some part of the machinery, and gears often push against each other and use their collective movement to cause larger mechanical movement.

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Providing the Highest Quality Sprockers 

There are several advantages to using chain and sprocket drives over other types of mechanical transmission systems. They:

  • Do not slip or creep, and so are more efficient than belt drives
  • Are more compact than belt drives
  • Operate effectively at high temperatures
  • Are easier to install than belt drives
  • Do not deteriorate due to oil, grease, sunlight, or age
  • Can withstand abrasive conditions
  • Can operate in wet conditions
  • Can be used on reversing drives

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Idler – These are used where long lengths of chain can slack, to help avoid whipping, or where it’s been guided around an obstruction. It also helps prevent uneven load distribution.

Hunting tooth – These have an uneven number of teeth, meaning they tend to last longer than other types because every time it turns, the links engage a new set of teeth. This means each tooth makes contact only half as many times as other types of sprocket, helping it last longer.

Segmental rim – These have bolt-on rims in either three, four or more pieces. The rim can be replaced without removing the chain from the sprocket or the sprocket from the shaft. This makes them useful for elevators or other industrial settings because they help reduce costly shutdown during installation and adjustment.

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