The material used for belts and ropes must be strong, flexible, and durable. It must have a high coefficient of friction. The belts, according to the material used, are classified as follows:
- Leather belts. The most important material for flat belt is leather. The best leather belts are made from 1.2 metres to 1.5 metres long strips cut from either side of the back bone of the top grade steer hides. The hair side of the leather is smoother and harder than the flesh side, but the flesh side is stronger. The fibres on the hair side are perpendicular to the surface, while those on the flesh side are interwoven and parallel to the surface. Therefore for these reasons the hair side of a belt should be in contact with the pulley surface as shown in Fig. 18.2. This gives a more intimate contact between belt and pulley and places the greatest tensile strength of the belt section on the outside, where the tension is maximum as the belt passes over the pulley.
The leather may be either oak-tanned or mineral salt-tanned e.g. chrome-tanned. In order to increase the thickness of belt, the strips are cemented together. The belts are specified according to the number of layers e.g. single, double or triple ply and according to the thickness of hides used e.g. light, medium or heavy.The leather belts must be periodically cleaned and dressed or treated with a compound or dressing containing neats foot or other suitable oils so that the belt will remain soft and flexible.
- Cotton or fabric belts. Most of the fabric belts are made by folding convass or cotton duck to three or more layers (depending upon the thickness desired) and stitching together. These belts are woven also into a strip of the desired width and thickness. They are impregnated with some filler like linseed oil in order to make the belt water-proof and to prevent injury to the fibres. The cotton belts are cheaper and suitable in warm climates, in damp atmospheres and in exposed positions. Since the cotton belts require little attention, therefore these belts are mostly used in farm machinery, belt conveyor etc.
- Rubber belt. The rubber belts are made of layers of fabric impregnated with rubber composition and have a thin layer of rubber on the faces. These belts are very flexible but are quickly destroyed if allowed to come into contact with heat, oil or grease. One of the principle advantage of these belts is that they may be easily made endless. These belts are found suitable for saw mills, paper mills where they are exposed to moisture.
- Balata belts. These belts are similar to rubber belts except that balata gum is used in place of rubber. These belts are acid proof and water proof and it is not effected by animal oils or alkalies. The balata belts should not be at temperatures above 40°C because at this temperature the balata begins to soften and becomes sticky. The strength of balata belts is 25 per cent higher than rubber belts. Reference A Textbook of Machine Design by R.S.Khurmi and J.K.Gupta