What Are Sprockets?

Posted on February 10, 2022 Anthony Cordle What Are Sprockets?

Sprockets have long been employed in machinery both large and small to help transmit power or move materials. These chain-driven devices are ubiquitous in cars, bicycles, specialized tools, and industrial machinery. In this blog, we will discuss how sprockets work as well as the different types that may be found.

Sprockets are mechanical wheels designed with several teeth that allow a chain or belt to rotate them. They are usually made from steel or aluminum, making them durable, lightweight, and resistant to corrosion. Each sprocket contains a certain amount of teeth, which are the functional units of the component that make contact with the chain. Sprockets vary in several metrics, including pitch diameter, outside diameter, and pitch measurement, with each of these variables altering the functional capacity. Pitch diameter refers to the measurement between the two opposing ends of an imaginary circle that transects the teeth. Outside diameter is similar to pitch diameter, but it instead measures the distance between two opposite teeth ends. Finally, pitch measurement refers to the space between two adjacent teeth.

There are several unique sprocket designs on the market, most of which are different sizes and contain a varying amount of teeth. Some of the most common are thus listed:

Multiple Strand: Featuring two or more rows of teeth, these sprockets can be used in heavy-duty applications, where more torque is needed to move the central shaft.

Quick Disconnect: These sprockets feature flanges and anchor bolts that are easy to install and disconnect. As such, this option is common for temporary applications or in places where the device should be frequently cleaned.

Hunting Tooth: When customers want to get the longest lifespan out of their sprocket, they will usually choose hunting tooth sprockets. These unique components are designed with teeth that are exactly half the chain's pitch, thus forcing the chain to engage with the sprocket half as many times as the conventional design.

Segmental Rim: Segmental rim sprockets are popular in applications where downtime for repair can be costly. They are uniquely designed to allow for repair and replacement of worn parts without having to remove any bearings, enabling quick restoration.

Idlers: These specialty sprockets are used to help prevent sag or slack when a long length of chain runs between two terminals.

Sprockets may be fitted to a shaft using one of two methods, pilot-boring or taper-bush. The pilot-bore design is most popular in industrial machinery, while taper bush sprockets are found in a variety of vehicles. Pilot-bores must be bored to the exact shaft size of the intended application and are usually secured with bushings. Conversely, taper bush sprockets have a small split to which a taper-lock bushing may be attached. They provide a very tight fit and are appropriate for high-torque applications. When choosing a sprocket for any application, it is important to ensure that the chain number is compatible with the sprocket in question. It is also necessary to evaluate the torque and leverage requirements of the application in order to choose a sprocket that will not fail under the demands.

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