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There are two types of flexibility readily evident with a belt drive, and to a lesser degree with a chain drive. They are

1) Lateral flexibility that allows the pulleys to be slightly out of plane with each others.

2) longitudinal flexibility that allows the belt to stretch and shrink under load variation.

For  a polymer or rubber like material, the existence of both forms of flexibility is readily evident; the material is stretchy.

For a steel chain, the material is also "stretchy" although to a much reduced degree. We tend to think of chain links as rigid, but in fact, they are merely stiff. They deform under load, just like  any other material.

 In addition for the chain, there are small clearances around the pins that opens and close, allowing for both types of flexibility.

All in all, it is simply a matter of degree. The belt material is far more compliant, while the chain material is more stiff. But neither is truly rigid.

DrD

 

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