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How to Select the Best Material for Your Conveyor Belt Application

Conveyors are a crucial part of many processes in industries and shipping facilities throughout the world. The type of material chosen for your conveyor belt is important for it to run smoothly with minimal maintenance and maximum efficiency and longevity. You don’t want the product to be damaged by the conveyor, nor do you want the product damaging your conveyor belt.

What to Consider When Choosing a Conveyor Belt Material

When choosing the right conveyor belt material, it is important to consider what conditions the conveyor belt will be under, what kind of product is being conveyed, and how the conveyor will be cleaned or maintained.

Product Characteristics

The first consideration when choosing a conveyor belt material is what kind of products or material it will be conveying. 

Consider these product questions:

  • Is the load heavy?
  • Does the product have sharp edges?
  • Is the product delicate?
  • Is it susceptible to contamination?
  • Is the product packaged or loose?

Consider all the characteristics of the product to be conveyed, and consider what impact those characteristics will have on the conveyor belt. Heavy products may cause heavy impacts on the belt, denting or damaging it. Sharp-edged products could abrade, cut, or otherwise damage the belt. Delicate products need to be handled carefully. 

When handling consumable products, the surfaces they touch need to be sanitary. Loose products or materials will need different types of conveyor belts to properly transport them. Conveyor belts can be flat or have ridges, buckets, or other conveyance methods to move a product along. 

Environmental & Processing Conditions

The next important factor when choosing a conveyor belt material is what conditions it will be under. 

Consider these conveyor environment questions:

  • What processes do the products need to undergo?
  • What environments will the belt be under?
  • Does the belt need to withstand high or low temperatures?
  • Will the belt be submerged?
  • Do conveying processes involve abrasive materials like dirt or salt? 

The chosen belt material needs to be able to withstand both the product and the processes it goes through. 

If the belt is going through drying or heating processes, it needs to be heat resistant. If there are low temperatures, the belt shouldn’t become brittle and lose flexibility. If there is excessive moisture, the belt material should be non-absorbent to avoid corrosion, belt loosening, and additional lingering weight.

Dirt and rocks obviously have a wear and tear factor to them. For example, when processing raw potatoes, there is going to be some loose dirt and rocks in the beginning processes, which can cause major wear and tear on some conveyor belt systems. 

While dirt and rocks are obvious, many fail to consider that even finer-grained things like food seasonings and salt can affect conveyors. Seasonings and salt can be abrasive, wearing down conveyors. Salt, with a little moisture or humidity, encourages corrosion.

Suppose the potatoes go from a submersive cleaning process, to a drying process, to a boiling oil process, to a salting and seasoning process. Each of those processes can affect the longevity and efficiency of a conveyor system depending on the material used.

Cleaning Considerations

Consider how the belt will be cleaned by asking the following questions:

  • Does the conveyor belt need to be sanitized?
  • What kind of sanitization process is used?
  • Does the cleaning process involve water?
  • Are there chemicals involved?
  • Does it need to withstand a power washer?
  • Does the product leave behind sticky residue or abrasive particles?

A power washer will expose the belt to water. If the belt is transferring meat like poultry, the belt will need to be thoroughly sanitized. Chemical cleaners may cause corrosion or deformation. 

Some conveyor materials can be very sensitive to even small changes in chemical interactions. Even something as small as a cleaning team using too high of a concentration of cleaner or switching to a new cleaner can cause problems with a conveyor belt.

Conveyor Belt Materials & Their Characteristics

Picking the right conveyor belt material will maximize your efficiency while minimizing the labor to upkeep it. Different industries have various needs when it comes to conveyor belts.

Now that you’ve considered your product, environments, processes, and cleaning requirements, consider what kind of characteristics a conveyor belt material needs to possess to accommodate your needs. 

Here are some common conveyor belt materials:

Rubber & Composites

Rubber is the most iconic and perhaps prevalent conveyor belt material. Rubber can create a sturdy band with excellent retention that can transport a wide variety of products. 

These conveyor belts can be made out of a range of different materials, such as leather, urethane, PVC, wire mesh, and nylon. These belts can be made with a number of additives to create a variety of distinct modifications to their properties. Many businesses extensively use rubber belts due to their durability and ability to handle heavy impacts. 


Polyurethanes and polymers come in hundreds, if not thousands, of distinct varieties. With innovative chemistry, the mechanical properties of polyurethane can be modified to adjust to a number of different environments and requirements. 

Polyurethane excels with high-load capacities while in tension and compression. Polyurethane may deform when subjected to a heavy load but will quickly regain its original shape when the load is removed. Polyurethane shines in conditions that require high flex fatigue. It also has high ratings in tensile strength and tear resistance. 

When exposed to water, oil, and grease, polyurethane remains constant with limited swelling. It is commonly featured in underwater applications and has excellent electrical insulating properties. 


Metal conveyor belts are extremely durable, wear-resistant, and strong. They are especially useful for dealing with raw materials like food or unpackaged goods. 

Metal conveyor belts resist impact damage, scrapes, and abrasions. However, they are more complex to shape and bend for the same reason, which can limit the potential of conveyor pathways. Metal conveyor belts are also the most heat-resistant of the various belt materials. 

Metal conveyor belts are usually made of stainless steel, carbon steel, or aluminum. Metals can be susceptible to corrosion damage from chemicals, moisture, and salt. 

There are also many surface treatments available for metal belts, which can modify their properties. You can increase wear resistance, friction, temperature resistance, lubrication, abrasion resistance, hardness, and even increase their stain and corrosion resistance. 


Fabric conveyor belts can handle medium impact and are relatively inexpensive. They are common choices for transporting gravel, sand, and other bulk materials. They are often used in grocery stores’ checkout lanes to move groceries towards the register. 

Nylon fabric is strong, durable, heat-resistant, and impact-resistant. If combined with rubber for a hybrid conveyor, it can adhere to rubber. It is also less susceptible to mildew and mold. 

Polyester conveyor belts are similar to nylon in characteristics. The material itself is less expensive than nylon and operates more quietly, though it isn’t as tough or robust. 

Get Expert Conveyor Belt Guidance

Whether your application is simple or complex, the engineering experts at Vaughn Belting can help you find the right conveyor belt material. Our experts will help you consider all important factors and match them with the right properties in a belt material. 

We have years of experience to guide you through the decision-making process so that once everything is installed and ready, you have peace of mind that you’re using the right conveyor belt material. 

Contact us today to learn more about the various conveyor belt materials we have available and to discuss the best options for your project or application.