Cable drag chains—also referred to as cable chains, cable carriers, cable track, and energy chains—are flexible hollow structures used to guide, support, and protect cables, hoses, and hydraulic lines when in motion. Industry professionals use them to prevent cables & hoses from tangling up or incurring damage during machine motion, both of which can cause accidents and contribute to downtime.
Materials Used in Cable Drag Chains
Depending on the requirements and restrictions of the application, manufacturers use steel or plastic to make cable drag chains. Both materials offer different advantageous characteristics that make them suitable for different applications.
Steel & Metallic Components
Since their introduction by KabelSchlepp® in the 1950s, cable drag chains have employed steel as a primary construction material. To this day, it continues to be the material of choice for industrial applications due to its high tensile strength and temperature resistance.
Types of steel commonly used in cable drag chains include:
- Stainless steel for increased environmental resistance along with heavy load carrying capacity.
- Zinc-plated steel for traditional applications requiring heavy load carrying capacity.
- Hybrid (metallic & nylon) for applications requiring design flexibility along with higher speeds and acceleration.
During the early 1970s, manufacturers began using plastic—specifically polypropylene (PP)—for cable drag chains. Nowadays, plastic drag chains are as prevalent as steel ones and offer unique advantages for certain applications. Unlike many of the competitors, KabelSchlepp knows that every cable track application is different and the only way to properly provide the best possible protection for the cables and hose that the KabelSchlepp drag chain is carrying is to offer a full selection of materials, no one material is perfect for every application. In additional to offer the widest selection of drag chain materials, KabelSchlepp is also capable of manufacturing custom tracks when the application dictates this to be the best course of action.
Some of the specialized plastics employed in cable drag chains include:
- Chip repellent materials that protect against flying metal chips as hot as 1,500° F
- Cleanroom materials that do not create any dust or debris, making them suitable for use in applications that need super clean environments (e.g., semiconductor manufacturing)
- Electrostatic discharging materials for sensitive electronic device manufacturing
- Flame retardant materials for environments with combustible materials
- Magnetically detectable materials whose fragments can be detected by metal sensors, making them suitable for operations requiring minimal product contamination (e.g., food processing)
Types of Cables Used in Drag Chains
Drag chains are used to guide, support, and protect a variety of constant flex cables and hoses, such as:
- Bio-oil and microbial-resistant cables are resistant to abrasion and biofuels. They are environmentally friendly since they are made of recyclable materials.
- Data cables are good for operating between -40° to 70° C.
- PUR (polyurethane) cables have an operating temperature range of -20° to 80° C for flexing cables or -40° to 80° C for fixed cables.
- PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) cables operate between -10° to 80° C. They are flexible, number coded drag chains with good oil resistance and meter marking.
Applications of Cable Drag Chains
Drag chains are available in a wide range of designs to suit different applications. Functionally, they can be grouped into two categories:
- Linear: moving in a straight line for distances less than one meter to more than 100 meters
- Circular (or rotary): moving in circular arcs
Additionally, they can be classified by application:
- Standard carriers have a simple design that allows quick installation of cables.
- Advanced carriers have variable chain widths and more separation options than standard ones.
- Extreme carriers are typically made from steel or stainless steel to suit harsh environments.
- Carriers for 3D applications use rotational or swivel type movements in multiple dimensions.
Typical applications for cable drag chains include use in the following:
- Port Cranes
- Green energy systems
- Machine tools
- Process and automation equipment
- Vehicle transporters and washing systems
Quality Drag Chains: Tsubaki KabelSchlepp
U.S. Tsubaki, a subsidiary of Tsubakimoto Chain Company, is an ISO 9001 certified company that manufactures high-quality power transmission, motion control, and bulk material handling equipment, including drag chains under the KabelSchlepp brand. To learn more about our product offerings, visit our KabelSchlepp cable carriers page. Contact us today for assistance choosing one that meets your requirements.
Critical drive components can fail or fracture from just a single moment or action. This incidence, called mechanical overload, is when a rotating component experiences torques beyond what the system is designed to handle. Any rotating operation can develop a lot of torque and, if there is any kind of malfunction, all of that force can break affected components including, but not limited to, the couplings, the drive or motor shafts, and/or the gearing.
Mechanical overload protection devices like the Tsubaki Torque Limiter can help reduce the risk of critical component failure.
Simply put, these devices protect rotating components from the risk of mechanical overload. Clutches, brakes, and Torque Limiters all fall under this classification. Torque Limiters, specifically, work by slipping during torque overload to prevent driven components from experiencing excessive torque loads. If a torque overload occurs, the Torque Limiter is able to protect critical equipment by disconnecting the driving shaft from the driven components.
How Does a Torque Limiter Work?
Torque Limiters ensure that torque-based forces never exceed the set point. By limiting torque forces to what the rotational components can safely handle, these parts reduce mechanical overload and failures. They can work independently or in congruence with electronic sensors. Sometimes, mechanical torque limiters are called overload clutches.
During normal operation, when no torque overload is occurring, the Torque Limiter transmits torque from the driven shaft to the driven member (sprocket, gear, pulley, etc.) via friction disks. The friction disks are compressed against the face of the driven member by disk spring and the frictional force is high enough to transmit the torque from the shaft to the member. The Torque Limiter spring force is manually variable via adjusting nut.
When a torque overload occurs, the transmitted torque will exceed the set torque point of the Torque Limiter. When this occurs, the frictional force is no longer strong enough to transmit the torque from the driving shaft to the driven member, and the driven member slips between the friction disks. When the torque overload is removed, the Torque Limiter automatically resets and resumes transmitting torque.
Torque Limiter Applications
Torque Limiters can be used to protect any machinery with rotating components. If there is any risk of a drive shaft transmitting too much torque to the driven shaft or tangential parts, a Torque Limiter can ensure torque never reaches critical levels. The components couple the two rotating bodies and introduce a disconnect method.
Industries that commonly use Torque Limiters to protect their machinery include:
- General machining and manufacturing
- Packaging and assembly services
- Printing and converting industries
- Textile manufacturing
- Forest products
Specific applications for Torque Limiters include:
- Conveyors: If the conveying system jams, the Torque Limiter will disconnect the driving motor from the conveyor to protect critical components.
- Gearboxes: This additional safety mechanism prevents excess torque from reaching vulnerable components in the driven system.
- Generators: Power outages can cause sporadic moments of excess torque. A Torque Limiter can prevent that force from damaging the equipment.
- Motors: The Torque Limiter can disengage the motor shaft from the driven system in the event it generates too much torque for the machinery to handle.
Torque Limiter Sprockets by U.S. Tsubaki
Our Torque Limiters offer excellent protection from excessive torque and the risks of mechanical overload. U.S. Tsubaki now offers a factory pre-assembled Torque Limiter Sprocket to help further improve our customer experience.
Tsubaki also produces the following overload protectors:
- Shock Guard®
- Mini Keeper
- Torque Keeper
- Shock Relay
- Shock Monitor