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US Tsubaki's All About Cable Drag Chains Guide

Author: Minnie

Jun. 10, 2024

US Tsubaki's All About Cable Drag Chains Guide

US Tsubaki&#;s All About Cable Drag Chains Guide

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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 Tsubaki-KabelSchlepp® in the s, 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.

High-Performance Plastics

During the early s, 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, Tsubaki-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 Tsubaki-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, Tsubaki-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:

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  • 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 certified company that manufactures high-quality power transmission, motion control, and bulk material handling equipment, including drag chains under the Tsubaki-KabelSchlepp® brand. To learn more about our product offerings, visit our Tsubaki-KabelSchlepp® cable carriers page. Contact us today for assistance choosing one that meets your requirements.

How to Select a Cable Drag Chain?

How to Select a Cable Drag Chain?

Several factors relate to how to choose the best cable track for your application. The material used for the cable track depends on the type required, how you want it to move and the level of durability required. Selecting the correct drag chain will prevent premature failure of the carrier or internal cable.

In order to help you to choose a suitable cable drag chain, ATO industrial automation will introduce some key points when you choosing a cable drag chain.

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  • Cable carrier measurement. Use the sizes of the cables that will travel in the carrier to find the right track. Ensure the track clearances based on the sizes of what is inside These measurements ensure the cables, lines or hoses have adequate space to move in the track without the carrier pinching them or rubbing on them, which leads to premature cable wear. To ensure the cable carrier is wide enough, add the clearances plus the diameters of all the cables, lines or hoses the track will carry. Additionally, when filling the cable carriers, place cables or hoses to evenly distribute the weight. Therefore, larger cables should be on the outer sides of the track with the smaller cables inside. This arrangement can prevent uneven weight distribution that could cause the track to flip over.
  • Type of cable access. The types of carriers include varieties that allow for different access methods to the cables. First, the nonopening type works best for small applications because you cannot access the cable from the middle of the track. The second type uses hinged crossbars to permit access to the cables. Usually, the hinges require a screwdriver or other tool to open them, which prevents accidental opening of the crossbars during use. Open crossbar types also include options that do not require tools for putting cables into the tracks. However, these types work best when used over short distances due to the strain they may put on cables when used for long stretches.
  • Cable movement. Aside from the method of cable access, consider the type of movement required of the drag cable. Two main forms of movement exist: linear and rotary. For movement in a straight line, use linear cable tracks. However, if you need carriers that move around bends, such as machinery that sends the track around one or more turns, you will need a rotary design. Note that some rotary will only move in one direction while others permit multiple turns, ideal for robotics or automated machinery.
  • Cable durability. The durability of the cable track relates to its use. Durability considerations include whether you need temperature-resistant cable tracks made of steel or flame-resistant plastic tracks. Both types of cable drag chains work in environments with high operating temperatures and potential fire hazards. Durability also includes whether the drag chain can continue to perform in situations with loud sounds and vibration. Flexible linked cable tracks are one option that meets these criteria. Their design makes them ideal for situations that require absorption of both sound and vibrations and for use over long distances.





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