Chain Drive: Types Of Chains And Application [PDF]

Chain Drive is one of the best and robust ways of transferring power from one shaft to another. Be it a cycle, a motorcycle, or an automobile, you will find chain drive everywhere. So let’s explore more about chain drive in this article. We will also explore types of chains, their applications, advantages, and disadvantages.

What Is A Chain Drive

The chain drive consists of a chain and a pair of sprockets. Those sprockets are connected to shafts. Chain is connected to those sprockets to transfer power from one shaft to another shaft.

The chain is made up of links connected with the help of pins. Since a chain is composed of multiple links, it is not used for long-distance power transmission. However, for short-distance power transfers, the chain drive is the best.

chain drive

In a chain drive, there is no slippage, and that is why it comes under a positive drive. Constant velocity can be achieved. However, the power transmission is not 100% as there is always some loss of power due to wear and tear.

Unlike the belt drive, you need to use lubricants in the chain drive. Proper care and regular maintenance are required for chain drives to perform at their best.

Working Principle Of Chain Drive

Sprockets have teeth on the periphery that gets engaged with the chain links. When the driver sprocket rotates, it pushes the chain links. Those chain links then rotate the driven shaft, and this is how a chain drive transfer power.

Types Of Chains

Following are the types of chain used in the industries

  • Power Transmission chain
  • Conveyor Chain
  • Hoisting chain

Power Transmission Chain

As the name suggests, this type of chain is used to transfer power. This type of chain is made of steel and goes for heat treatment for better durability.

chain drive

The power transmission chain is known for its better accuracy, and power loss is also negligible. Also, there is hardly any slippage. There are different types of Power transmission chains available in the market. Below are a few of those.

  • Roller Chain
  • Block Chain
  • Inverted Tooth Chain

Conveyor Chain

Conveyor chain is used in conveyors, so this type of chain has good load-bearing capacity. This type of chain is made of malleable iron and often noisy during operation. Due to that, effective lubrication is essential. There are high chances of wear and tear in conveyor chains.

chain drive

Following types of Conveyor chain is popular in the industry.

  • Hollow bearing pin chain
  • Solid bearing pin chain
  • Deep-link chain
  • Drop forged chain

Hoisting Chain

This type of chain is used in Hoist. A hoist is a device for lifting or lowering a load with the help of a rope wrapping around a drum or wheel. You might have seen this kind of mechanism in very old elevators. This type of chain has excellent tensile strength.

chain drive

Following types of hoisting chains are found in the industries

  • Oval link chain
  • Stud link chain

Advantages Of Chain Drive

  • Very robust is design
  • There is no slippage at all
  • No issue of creeping
  • Can transfer high power
  • Excellent load-bearing capacity
  • Does not wear and wear quickly like any belt drive
  • More temperature resistant than belt drive
  • It can be used for reversing drive with external force
  • No fire hazard issue
  • Excellent durability
  • In case of any issue with any link, you just need to change the link, not the whole chain.
  • Occupies less space compare to belt drive
  • Put less stress on pulleys

Disadvantages Of Chain Drive

  • Frequent lubrication is required
  • Too much noisy
  • Vibration is more compared to belt drive
  • Need separate housing to cover the chain drive
  • Not suitable for long-distance power transfer
  • Speed variation using different size sprockets is not as easy as belt drives.
  • The cost is high compare to belt drive.

Application Of Chain Drive

  • The chain drive is extensively used in the elevators
  • Used in motorcycle and bi-cycles
  • Extensively used in heavy agricultural machinery
  • Construction equipment’s use a chain drive to lift materials
  • Automobile industry use chain drive for transferring power


That’s all I have in this article. I hope you got a fair basic idea about chain drive. If you still have any questions or query then don’t hesitate to write them down under the comment section and I will be happy to help.

You may also like to read: What is a belt drive


A 2004 batch Mechanical Engineering graduate From NIT, Agartala. Close to 16 years of experience in the field of consumer electronics and appliances domain as a Sr. Design Engineer and Team Leader in India and the United States. A GD&T practitioner, with expertise in Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma. Crazy about exploring CAD-CAM tools and in his free time love to go for a ride with his champ, Rian.