How Do Conveyor Rollers Work? (Find Out Now)

Do you want an easier way to move items around your warehouse or manufacturing facility? If so, then conveyor rollers are the perfect solution. Conveyor rollers are mechanical devices used in various industries to transport items from one place to another quickly and efficiently. They have a long history of reliability, cost-effectiveness, and ease of use.

How Do Conveyor Rollers Work: A General Overview

Conveyor rollers make moving items from one place to another much more accessible. We connect each roller to a conveyor system, which uses an electric motor or other power sources to move the rollers in a continuous loop. As the rollers turn, they move items along the conveyor system in the desired direction.

Each roller comprises an axle, a bearing, and an outer tube. The axle connects the rollers to the conveyor system. The bearing helps the rollers to turn without friction and reduces noise during operation. Finally, the outer tube helps keep items on track as they move.

How do conveyor rollers work?

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Different Conveyor Roller Types

It’s easier to understand how do conveyor rollers work when you know the different types and materials used in their construction. The two types of conveyor rollers are gravity and powered.

Gravity Rollers

The simplest type is the gravity roller. These are the simplest conveyor rollers to understand and are a great option when you need an affordable solution. As the name implies, these rollers rely on gravity to move objects along a conveyor. These date back to the early 19th century and are often used for lighter materials such as cardboard boxes and plastic bags.

They’re typically used in applications requiring minimal effort to move objects down the line. For example, the boxes will roll downhill along a gravity roller conveyor incline. They’re common in distribution, packaging, and assembly centers.

Gravity Rollers Conveyor Roller Types

Powered Rollers

These rollers use an electric motor or belt-drive system to rotate and propel items along the conveyor. These use AC or DC motors. This powered roller type best suits applications requiring a consistent and significant force to move things.

Low-cost AC roller motors can provide an excellent option for many applications. The difference is that AC motors use an alternating current and have a more efficient design when compared to DC motors’ direct current. Typical powered roller applications include goods and product transportation, mining, and assembly line operations.

Different Roller Types

The type of roller also determines how do conveyor rollers work. Common roller types include:

Straight Rollers

Straight rollers are the most common conveyor roller type and are suitable for almost any application. These do not create friction between the item and the roller, so they are ideal for relatively lightweight items. Businesses use these in automotive manufacturing, food processing, and packaging.

Tapered Rollers

Tapered rollers move items from one side of the conveyor to another. These create friction between the roller and the item being conveyed and are ideal for applications requiring quick maneuvers. Industries such as distribution and assembly often use tapered rollers to transport items quickly from one side of the conveyor to another.

O-Ring Rollers

These are also multi-groove rollers or sprockets rollers, often used for heavier loads requiring more power. These rollers are designed for more robust and reliable transportation. They use a series of sprockets or grooves to create friction between the roller and the item being transported. This helps the thing move along the conveyor more reliably and with more power. Businesses commonly use conveyor rollers with sprockets in food processing and material handling industries.

Conveyor Rollers with Sprockets

V-Groove Rollers

V-groove rollers are common in factories, warehouses, and packaging centers. Companies use these rollers for transporting items uphill. The V-grooves create friction between the roller and the transported item, making it easier for the latter to move along an inclined conveyor. The process generates centrifugal force, making it easier to transport heavy items up an incline with minimal effort.

At Conveyor Systems & Engineering, Inc., we have the knowledge and experience to help you figure out what type of conveyor roller works best for your needs. So don’t hesitate to contact us at 847-350-2900 to get your business moving! We have over 30 years of experience in the conveyor industry and look forward to helping you with all your needs.

Roller Materials

Another critical factor to consider when asking how do conveyor rollers work is the material used for manufacturing. The material plays a vital role in how the roller works. Standard materials are stainless steel, aluminum, and plastic.

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel work with both powered and gravity rollers. This material is highly resistant to corrosion and rust, making it suitable for many applications. It’s strong, durable, and can handle large items with ease. We often install these rollers in industrial and food processing environments. They work best for applications requiring a heavy-duty solution.


This lightweight material is perfect for transporting lighter items, such as small boxes or bags. They’re also resistant to extreme temperatures and are less prone to wear and tear. These are more common in low-load environments, such as warehouses or assembly centers. It’s also less expensive than stainless steel. You can use metal rollers with both powered and gravity rollers.


Our plastic conveyor rollers are versatile and work great with gravity and powered systems. This material is used for applications requiring more flexibility. Plastic rollers can be easily shaped or molded to fit specific curves and handle various temperatures. They’re often used for lighter items that require more support or cushioning. Plastic is easier to clean and requires little maintenance.


Many of our clients use PVC conveyor rollers for handling materials in processing facilities. These are more common in powered applications because of their ability to generate more force. This type of plastic is solid and durable, making it an ideal choice for heavy-duty applications. It’s also great for food processing, as its non-porous surface makes it easy to clean and sanitize.

PVC Conveyor Roller Materials


This is another type of plastic material used for conveyor rollers. We often use nylon conveyor rollers in warehouses because it’s tough, lightweight, and resistant to abrasion. Nylon is also great for more flexible applications, such as curved conveyors. These work well with both powered and gravity rollers

Rubber-Coated Rollers

Rubber-coated rollers are also popular in many industrial settings because of their durability and flexibility. The rubber layer helps increase the friction between the roller and the transported object, ensuring a smoother and more reliable movement. This roller type is ideal for cushioning or shock absorption applications, such as those involving fragile items.

Step-By-Step Guide to How Conveyor Rollers Work

Now that you know about the different materials and their characteristics, let’s take a deep dive into how conveyor rollers work:

  1. All conveyors use a roller to move items along their length. The type of roller used depends on the application.
  2. Either a motor or gravity and friction generate the power.
  3. Depending on the material used for manufacturing, each roller type works differently to move items along the conveyor system.
  4. V-groove rollers are commonly used in inclined systems, providing extra power to move items uphill.
  5. Stainless steel rollers are great for heavy-duty applications, while aluminum and plastic rollers are better suited for lighter items.
  6. PVC and nylon rollers can handle temperature changes and have a non-porous surface, making them ideal choices for food processing environments.
  7. Rubber-coated rollers provide extra friction and cushioning for fragile items.
  8. Ultimately, each roller type can be used with gravity or powered systems, depending on the application requirements.
  9. Last, the installation of your conveyor rollers depends on the type of conveyor system you have. It’s best to consult a reliable installation technician who will do the job right the first time.

Contact Conveyor Systems & Engineering Inc. to Keep Your Business Rolling

If you need reliable and efficient conveyor rollers for your business, contact Conveyor Systems & Engineering Inc. We specialize in providing quality custom conveyor rollers that can handle the demands of modern transportation systems. Our superior design ensures your company runs at its full potential while remaining within budget.

As a top provider of conveyor rollers, Conveyor Systems & Engineering Inc. has an extensive selection of products tailored to your needs. We take pride in offering quality solutions that are both cost-effective and durable. With our advanced technology, you know your business will run smoothly for many years. Contact us at 847-350-2900 today!

The information provided in this blog should serve as an overview of how conveyor rollers work and the various materials available for their construction. As always, we recommend contacting our experienced team at Conveyor Systems & Engineering, Inc. to determine which type of conveyor roller is best for your needs.

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1000 Series Conveyor Rollers

1000 Series

The 1000 Series Sleeve Bearings are designed for powered and gravity applications and are designed to be used without external lubrication.
Self-lubricating plastic resin bushings are proven to deliver a longer service life than lubricated rolling element bearings (ball bearings). In many cases sleeve bearings will outperform ball bearings in food handling, abrasive, high temperature, corrosive and wash-down applications.
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2000 Series Conveyor Rollers

2000 Series

The 2000 Series Conveyor Bearings are designed for gravity and slow speed powered applications and are designed to be used without external lubrication.
Self-lubricating plastic resin raceway ball bearings are a cost effective solution in light duty and medium duty conveyor applications. The labyrinth seal prevents solid contaminants from entering into bearing raceways.
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3000 Series Conveyor Rollers

3000 Series

The 3000 series ball bearings are designed with metal raceways and metal balls. These bearings are typically described as rolling element bearings. These deep groove bearings may be supplied either with unground raceways (for gravity applications), semi-precision raceways (gravity or slow speed powered applications) or precision raceways (high speed and high load applications). The balls could either be retained with a ball retainer or full complement (no ball retainer).
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How Do Conveyor Rollers Work?
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How Do Conveyor Rollers Work?
Conveyor rollers make moving items from one place to another much more accessible. We connect each roller to a conveyor system, which uses an electric motor or other power sources to move the rollers in a continuous loop. As the rollers turn, they move items along the conveyor system in the desired direction.
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Conveyor Systems & Engineering, Inc.
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