How to Select the Right Chain Drive for Your Application?

 How to Select the Right Chain Drive for Your Application?

With the amount of variety in the form and function of various chain designs, selecting the right chain drive for an application can become a bit overwhelming. The right way to go about this selection is to eliminate unsuitable options by evaluating the chain’s application and features. This will help to narrow down viable options before the final selection. The most important factors in chain drive selection are as follows:

1.     Loading

2.     Chain speed

3.     Shaft layout

4.     Distance between the shafts

5.     Service environment

6.     Lubrication


When selecting the right chain drive for your application, the most important question to focus on is how much power needs to be transferred. The chain must be able to handle the power produced by the prime mover.

The safety of the crew and the chain drive system depends upon the correctness of the calculations at this stage. It is recommended to work with an adequate factor of safety.

Chain speed

Not all chain drives can handle high-speed applications. Some chain drives are specifically designed for low speeds. The specifications can be obtained by carrying out calculations and ensuring that the speed is within the recommended range. This evaluation will considerably narrow down the number of designs that can be used for the application.

Shaft layout

Most chain drives cannot work with non-parallel shafts. If the shafts aren’t exactly aligned, the designers may have to look towards gear drives as an alternative.

Distance between the shafts

It is recommended that the center distance between shafts be in the range of 30-50 times the chain pitch. The designer must also ensure that a minimum arc of contact of 120 degrees is obtained on the smaller sprocket. If the number of sprocket teeth is small, at least five teeth must be in contact with the chain at any given moment.

Service environment

The service environment will dictate the expected resistance of the chain drive to moisture, dirt, abrasives, corrosion and high temperature. It will also affect other parameters such as vibration, noise levels and fatigue strength. For instance, in areas where noise is a concern, the designers can opt for the use of an inverted tooth chain.


Most chain drives require lubrication for a satisfactory wear life. Chain type, size, loads and operating speed will dictate the need and extent of lubrication. Depending on the application, designers may prefer manual, drip feed, oil bath or forced feed lubrication.

Some chains are self-lubricated and do not require any external lubrication throughout their service life. Such chains use bushings made from oil-infused sintered plastics or metals that provide uninterrupted lubrication during operation.

Post a Comment