tent short belt fabrication and effective use
of product space. Additionally, conveyor
manufacturers need to take into account
the handling and orientation of parts during
movement, as well as the overall environment they’re operating in.
To build a miniature conveyor, end roll-
ers have been reduced to 5/8”. This profile
enables it to fit into tight spaces within a
machine, but also when positioned together
end-to-end, can successful transfer products
as small as 7/8” in diameter. The bearing
housings are fully encapsulated within the
conveyor frame. The advantage this affords
an end user is that two conveyors can be
positioned side-by-side and be nearly flush
with one another with only a 1/4” gap from
belt edge to belt edge.
Another challenge in building a miniature
conveyor with a low profile was developing
a mechanism to drive the belt – and that
mechanism proved to be a pinch drive, a
new engineering trend that allows the conveyor to run with almost no belt tension.
Typical belt conveyors run under high tension, which is needed for the drive roller
to have enough traction to drive the belt.
However, it is this tension that causes bearings and conveyor rollers to be oversized
– and that’s something that wouldn’t be feasible in a miniature conveyor.
The purpose of the pinch drive is to force
the conveyor belt against the drive roller,
giving it driving traction without the use of
tension. Conveyors have two pinch drive
mechanisms, each spring loaded against the
drive roller. This design allows the belt to
be run in either direction and only requires
enough belt tension to lay the conveyor belt
flat. Since over-tensioning the belt is not required, the belt lays flatter, which is needed
for lightweight components.
Miniature conveyors give engineers more
options in designing their applications, such
as allowing them to integrate the right-sized
conveyor into their machine. Miniature conveyors with new technologies are addressing
product handling issues by expanding the
available options to position and orientate
parts as the move through production. Bottom line is that miniature conveyors provide
added flexibility to design engineers in handling small parts for medical and pharmaceutical applications – a small design that’s a
big leap forward.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mike Hosch is the Director of Engineering
at Dorner Mfg. Corp. Since 1985, Hosch
has held many titles at Dorner, including
mechanical engineer, chief engineer and
manager of new product development.
Hosch has a bachelor’s degree in mechani-
cal engineering from Milwaukee School of
Engineering, where he graduated on the
Dean’s List. Hosch holds multiple patents in
conveyor design and is a licensed engineer
in the state of Wisconsin. He can be reached
at firstname.lastname@example.org. ■