Tips and Tricks for Designing with Cable Carriers

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Learn more at www.igus.com/echain Cable carriers are the lifeline of modern machinery. Industrial cables and hoses transmit energy, data, and fluids from their source throughout moving machinery, and are subject to external stresses that are commonplace in environments of an industrial nature. Cable carriers are able to guide and protect cables and hoses in moving equipment and machinery. Cable carriers are structures that surround the cable package while facilitating controlled travel and maximizing the life of these energy sources. Cable carriers are available as extremely lightweight, open-style models, to fully-enclosed heavy-duty tubes for extreme environments and applications, and they are also available in a variety of materials, and known by a variety of names including cable track, energy chains ® , or e-chains ® . Whatever the name, cable carriers are an ideal way to protect electric and data cables, hydraulic and pneumatic hoses, and all other lines in the correct position throughout their movement, while also protecting them from abrasion, tangling, and over-bending. For applications such as welding or CNC machining, closed carriers are able to provide protection against weld spatter, hot chips, chemicals, and other abrasive material. Cable carriers are used in other industries, as well, ranging from printers and sliding doors to offshore rigs and agricultural equipment. By protecting and guiding cables, they enhance machine safety and reliability, reduce system downtime and maintenance, and lower operating costs. Despite this, cable carriers are often an afterthought for equipment designers, and are tacked on late in project development. Many times, carriers are selected on delivery time and lowest price alone, but an inappropriate carrier can quickly cost you more in repairs than the initial savings. Here are a few tips on selecting the best cable carrier system to reduce operating costs over the lifetime of an application. Cable Carrier Options Cable carrier design and construction varies, but the basic structure almost always consists of parallel side links joined by perpendicular crossbars. Additional components, including external rollers, hose extenders, and internal separators, are usually available from the carrier's manufacturer. While enclosed, tube-like carriers are available for heavy-duty applications, other, lighter-weight styles are available for less harsh environments, and others still are easy-open styles with quick cable access. Most carriers on the market today are made completely out of plastic or metal, or a hybrid of the two (typically plastic side links with metal crossbars. A major argument for using all-plastic carriers is weight: heavier systems require more power to move, increasing power needed to run the entire application. There are relatively low-cost plastic carriers on the market made of nylon, which are suitable for moderate loads and speeds, but can become problematic with temperature changes and increased forces. Many of these carriers also absorb water, swelling and becoming useless in wet or high humidity environments. Introduction to cable carriers 2

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