What Is the Difference Between a Sprocket and a Pulley?

To the casual observer, pulleys and sprockets Farmingdale NY may look very similar. Both resemble wheels and are used to move another object. On more careful, examination, however, a pulley and a sprocket are more different than they are similar, although each can be very useful in certain circumstances.


Chances are that you have seen a sprocket before, even if you did not know what it was called. If you have ever ridden a bicycle, the wheel-like devices that cause the chain to move and the tires to turn when you pump the pedals are sprockets. You can recognize a sprocket by the teeth that protrude from around the outside of the wheel. On a bicycle, these teeth fit into the gaps between the links in the chain. A sprocket can also be used with a perforated band by enmeshing into the holes.

A sprocket more closely resembles a gear than it does a pulley, so much so that some people use the terms gear and sprocket interchangeably. Gears interact with other gears, their teeth interlocking so that when one moves, the other moves. Sprockets do not interact with other sprockets but only with chains or perforated bands.


Like a wheel, and unlike a sprocket, a pulley is a simple machine. It is distinguishable from a wheel by the groove that runs around the circumference of its rim, which can accommodate a rope. Pulleys are useful for lifting heavy objects because, like other simple machines, they multiply forces. When a rope is attached to a heavy object and threaded through a pulley, you can then pull down on the loose end of the rope to lift the object up. Because the pulley changes the direction of the force, you do not need to put in as much effort to lift the object. When the rope is threaded through more than one pulley, you can lift heavier objects without having to exert as much force.