Self-Cleaning Spiral and Winged Pulleys: How Do These Pulleys Work?

June 2, 2019

Just as certain bearings possess self-lubricating features, some pulleys can clean themselves. To demonstrate this feature, we’re going to check out two unique cylindrical pulley profiles. This is a fact-finding mission that begins with spiral pulleys, with their helical outlines providing the necessary self-cleaning structure. From there, our enquiries skip on over to winged pulleys, which use open drum voids to perform their equally impressive material discharging duties. 

Deconstructing Spiral Pulleys

For the purpose of this study, let’s visit a harsh mining complex. The area of study could also be a quarry. A long conveyor belt would be labouring on this hypothetical worksite, and it would be processing streams of gritty material. With the scene set, a closer look at the equipment is made. There are equally spaced plates protruding from the pulleys. They’re angled slightly, so the whole drum looks a little like a screw. The helical construct collects gritty quarry material or extracted mining waste before it can accumulate in a thick band on the underside of the conveyor ribbon. Here’s where the self-cleaning sleight of hand really comes into its own. Because of the screwing motion, which occurs as the conveyor belt moves, the collected grime is tracked towards an awaiting collection mechanism.

Self-Cleaning Wing Pulleys

Just like the drum profile mentioned in the above paragraph, a series of voids are built into the pulley surface of this self-cleaning cylindrical roller. This time around, however, narrow beams radiate outwards from the drum hub. There’s a slim bar mounted on the tip of each beam. It’s those flattened edges that retain the conveyor belt. Basically, with the “wings” rotating, the beam tips carry out two completely different jobs. Primarily responsible for supporting and moving the belt, the metal ridges also act as grime removing scrubbers. They sweep away the grimy build-up that’s accumulated underneath the flexible ribbon, then they collect the loosened dirt between the V-shaped niches formed by the intersecting drum hub and wing roots. Infinitely adaptable, many winged pulleys incorporate dual-tapered drums, which are again used to track dirt away from a pulley’s centre and out towards an awaiting collection mechanism.

According to their manufacturers, self-cleaning spiral pulleys are quieter and more efficient than their winged peers. Whether that’s true or not, there’s no questioning a winged pulley’s self-cleaning credentials. Better still, winged drums are available in countless configurations. Centre gussets increase in diameter to handle heavier payloads. The axially mounted beams, which surround the pulley in a ring, also vary in plated strength to deliver more self-cleaning power and belt supporting strength. All-in-all, although they’re based on two opposing dirt channelling builds, both self-cleaning pulley types exhibit efficient grit rejection mechanisms.

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