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Sprockets are sturdy wheels with teeth that lock onto a chain. As the sprocket spins, the teeth grab onto the chain and move other parts that interlock with the chain. This sequential series of operations allows for simple and controlled rotational movement of larger equipment and machinery.

Sprockets are often made from metal or reinforced plastics that can withstand the force of moving the chain. These components are often compared to gears, which share a similar wheel-shaped design with teeth. Unlike gears—which interlock together to transfer rotational movement— sprockets only directly interact with different types of chains. Rather than a gear system, most sprocket and chain systems work in a similar manner to bicycle chain assemblies—which is itself a lightweight sprocket and chain assembly.

Sprockets are highly specialized parts that are fabricated to precisely fit with specific chains and handle specific loads. Sprockets need to meet tight specifications regarding factors such as: Size, Dimensions, Diameter, Teeth width and depth

Unless the sprocket is just the right fit for the existing system, it can’t turn the chain correctly and the mechanisms will slip or seize. Incorrectly chosen sprockets can also break down—they will develop wear and teeth will chip or break off. Sprockets that fit their chains, on the other hand, can last a long time without breaking down, even in heavy-duty conveyor system applications.