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Title: An investigation of oriented polymers for power transmission applications
Author: Vgenopoulos, Dimitrios
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2012
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The feasibility of using oriented polymer technology in the design and manufacture of mechanical power transmission belts has been investigated. Working from an initial selection of polymers a die-drawing technique for orienting the polymers was devised, and the static and dynamic mechanical properties of the oriented polymers were investigated. These results indicated that PP, PBT, PPS and PEEK were suitable for further research. Of these 4 materials PBT was selected as the most appropriate material for belt manufacture based on cost, processability (drawing temperature, natural draw ratio) and limitations of laboratory equipment. A technique based on free-tensile drawing combined with simultaneous rotational motion was designed and used to manufacture oriented PBT flat belts from cylindrical injection moulded preforms. The technique used a tensile machine with two pulley-clamps, a fitted heated chamber and an electric motor to provide rotational motion to the belt during drawing. Two types of oriented PBT flat belts with different cross sections were produced successfully, termed 'thick' and 'thin'. These belts were tested on a purpose-built rig comprising two equal diameter pulleys, one driven by an electric motor and the other connected to a generator to provide load. The belt life and power transmission performance was investigated at various conditions of speed, transmitted torque and tension, and the results indicated that despite their smaller cross section 'thin' flat belts demonstrated up to 3 times longer life. However life was only 100hours, which was very low compared with conventional flat belts that last for many thousands of hours at higher speeds and much greater power transmission capacity. Synchronous belts were then produced through the same manufacturing method used for flat belts. This aspect of the research concentrated on the initial pitch design and size, i.e. the timing. Initially a rectangular tooth profile was selected for its simplicity in terms of manufacture. The produced belts exhibited high pitch length variation as well as deformed teeth and were not usable for synchronous power transmission. An extra timing feature was included to control orientation; reducing the pitch length variation enabling consistent tooth production. It was observed that the areas between the extra timing feature and the tooth edges did not orient completely with some regions remaining undrawn. Finite Element Analysis (FEA) was used to predict the drawing behaviour of different shapes and dimensions of the timing features. The results suggested that a 4mm wide and 7mm long slot provided the highest possible extension and the minimum non-oriented regions on the groove. Whilst, the thickness and width of the drawn belt timing features showed differences to the FEA predictions, manufactured synchronous belts based on that design had much better controlled dimensions and the lowest achieved pitch length variation ( ±1%), compared to initial attempts. It is concluded that oriented polymers have the potential to be used in power transmission belts since they offer higher stiffness, tensile strength and creep resistance compared with isotropic polymers that are currently used in commercially available belts such as thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). The main disadvantages were the lack of dimensional stability and number of cycle to failure.
Supervisor: Caton-Rose, Philip D.; Day, Andrew J. Sponsor: Polymer IRC ; University of Bradford ; Gates Corporation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Oriented polymers ; Solid-phase orientation ; Die-drawing ; Free drawing ; Power transmission belts ; Polybutylene terephthalate