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TechTalk Design Advice: Caring-for-cables


A technical introduction to cable carriers.

A technical introduction to cable carriers.

Published in Business , Technology
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  • 1. YOUR CONTACTCARING FOR CABLES Cable carriers guide and protect cables and hoses on moving machinery. They prevent tangling and damage from debris or Joe Ciringione contact with the machine itself. Using cable carriers extends the National Sales Manager, service life of both the cables and Energy Chain Systems® the machine. Any application JCiringione@igus.com involving moving machinery and constant repetitive motion will benefit from a cable carrier >> Subscribe to e-newsletter system. Typical applicationsrange from machine tools, woodworking machinery and palletizers, to >> Contacts in your location (on-site within 24-48 hours)automated robots, cleanrooms and ship-to-shore cranes. >> Request catalogs / freeigus® line of cable carriers - known as Energy Chains® - are all-plastic, samplesmaintenance-free, corrosion-resistant cable carriers. They can replacemetal or steel carriers in almost any application. igus® offers a variety of >> myigusEnergy Chains® such as: micro chains for the smallest applications, E- >> myCatalogZ chain for quick assembly, E6 chains for low noise and low vibration,fully enclosed Energy Tubes for applications with flying debris andmulti-axis cable carriers for robotic applications.>> Cable carrier overview igus Inc. PO Box 14349 East Providence, RI 02914Types of installation P. 1-800-527-2747The cable carrier is an integral part of any machine design and shouldbe considered early-on in the design process. It can be implemented in F. (401) 438-7270a variety of ways depending on the motion of the machine, but the most sales@igus.comcommon is a horizontal, unsupported, short-travel installation. In thistype of application, the upper run of the carrier operates withouttouching the lower run throughout the entire length of travel. The www.igus.com
  • 2. maximum unsupported length is different for every application, but this type of configuration will have the longest service life (top image depicts unsupported short travel). If the length of travel is too long for an unsupported installation, it is considered a gliding, long-travel application in which the cable carrier glides on itself (secondary image depicts gliding long travel). A guide trough and glide bar must be used to support the carrier. Cable carriers also can be installed vertically or horizontally. Side-mounted, rotary, multiple nested carriers are also quite common. >> Solutions with E-Chain Systems®9 Steps for Specifying a Cable Carrier SystemHere is a step-by-step guide to specifying a cable carrier:1. Gather data: The first step in choosing a cable carrier is togather all the necessary technical data prior to contacting a cablecarrier vendor. This includes length of travel, what cables orhoses will be installed, the size of cables and hoses and howmuch they weigh, any environmental factors such as debris, heator chemicals, and speed and acceleration.2. The largest cable or hose: The first question any reputablecable carrier manufacturer will ask is, “What is the largest cable orhose in your system?” This will determine the minimum size of thecable carrier. To this number, add proper clearance - 10% forcables and 20% for hoses - and the resulting dimension is theminimum inner height of the carrier.3. Style, style, style: Next, choose the style of carrier. Alwayschoose a snap-open version whenever possible. This type of carrier allows access to cables withcrossbars that snap open at any point along the carrier.If debris or other external conditions are an issue, the tube-style cable carrier replaces the crossbarswith lids to fully enclose the carrier and provide complete cable protection. This style is especially usefulin applications where woodchips, metal filings and other debris are present.igus® has pioneered various methods of cable access, such as split crossbars, “zippers” or hingedcrossbars. With a split crossbar, simply press the conduit into the carrier to install and pull straight up toremove. For zipper-like removal of crossbars, the carrier has interconnected lids that are pulled backlike a zipper, removing the top section of the carrier. The hinged crossbars are attached to the sidelinks and are made of non-fiber, reinforced nylon to enable the hinge to flex. These designs minimizeassembly and disassembly time. igus Inc. | 1-800-521-2747 | sales@igus.com | www.igus.com
  • 3. There also are modular cable carriers for heavy-duty, longer-travel applications. They are available withhinged crossbars that are opened on either the inner or outer radius, depending on which is preferablefor the application, or with lids to make them into a tube for debris protection. Special cable carriers areavailable to meet a variety of application requirements. Some are: low-vibration or low-noise carriers,multi-axis carriers for robotic applications, “twister” chains for rotational movements, fully enclosedcarriers for protection against metal chips and flying debris, and carriers with integrated wheels forlonger travels and less wear.4. The environment: The environmental conditions of an application typically determine which type orstyle of carrier to use. If debris such as woodchips or metal shards are present, or if the application is ina dirty or contaminated area, an enclosed tube is ideal. An open crossbar carrier is lightweight andfacilitates easy inspection and replacement of cables, whereas tube carriers offer removable lids forcable access. Also consider whether the application is underwater or comes in contact with liquids.igus® cable carriers will not corrode and are resistant to chemicals.Note: Space restrictions Many applications have a space restriction that will affect the design andselection of the cable carrier system. It is imperative that the performance of the system is notcompromised to meet these restrictions. There are ways to overcome these restrictions and igus® canwork directly with you to choose a cable carrier that meets your design constraints. Keep in mind thingssuch as the camber of the carrier when determining how much height is available for the installation.Camber is the curve of the upper portion of the carrier along its unsupported length. Most cable carriersare manufactured with camber, but special, no camber carriers are usually available upon request. Beadvised however, that carriers without camber do not have the same load-bearing capacity as those with camber. 5. Bend Radius: All cable carriers have a predetermined radius stopping point on each link. When a number of links are assembled, these stopping points restrict the carrier from fully pivoting and form a curve loop or minimum bend radius. All cable carriers have multiple bend radii to choose from and all manufacturers suggest a minimum bend radius. If this is unknown, the general rule is 8-10 times the outer diameter of the largest cable or hose. The larger thebend radius, the less stress is placed on the cable and the longer the service life will be. Bend radius ismeasured from the center of the curve loop to the center of the pivot pin on the side link. Do notconfuse this with the dimension of the overall curve height.R = the radius of the carrier.H = the measurement from the top of the curve to the bottom of the curve, or overall curve height.D = the depth of the curve. igus Inc. | 1-800-521-2747 | sales@igus.com | www.igus.com
  • 4. 6. Cable and hose packages: Since the primaryfunction of a cable carrier system is to ensure cablesbend properly, it is imperative to install the conduitscorrectly. To ensure maximum cycle life for yourmachine, the easiest solution is to use cables designedfor use in a cable carrier. Chainflex® continuous-flexcables are designed specifically for use in EnergyChains®.Chainflex® cables follow these seven guidelines: a. Strain-relieving core – The center of a cable should be filled with a genuine core center to protect the cable core structure above and prevent conductors from falling into the center. b. Conductor structure – Medium to fine strand diameter is preferable. igus® uses a combination of single-wire diameter, pitch length and pitch direction to achieve the best performance. c. Core insulation – Insulation materials must be friction-resistant to one another within the cable. Insulation must also protect the stranded wires of the conductor. High-quality PVC or TPE should be used. d. Cable core Conductors – should be bundled into groups and cabled together in a single layer around the core, enabling pulling and compressing forces to cancel out any torsional forces. Special attention should be given to pitch length and pitch direction. Cables constructed in layers are not suitable for long-travel. e. Inner jacket – A gusset-filling extruded inner jacket should be used instead of inexpensive fleece wrap or filler to ensure the cable structure is efficiently guided in the linear direction. This jacket design ensures the jacket maintains the integrity of the cable core. f. Shield design – High-quality braided shields protect cables from electromagnetic interference and an optimized braid angle increases torsional stability. Each Chainflex® cable has a shield with an optical coverage of 90%, which yields higher shield effective. g. Outer jackets – must be UV-, abrasion-, and temperature-resistant and resistant to oils and chemicals. It also should not adhere and be flexible while providing support. igus Inc. | 1-800-521-2747 | sales@igus.com | www.igus.com
  • 5. 7. Cable carrier length: To determine how long acable carrier your application will require, firstdetermine the position of the fixed end. The ideal andmost cost-effective position is at the center of travel.This will require the minimum amount of carrier toachieve the necessary movement.Use the following formula to determine the necessarycable carrier length:S = Maximum machine travel distanceK = Curve lengthL K = Carrier lengthR = Bending Radius∆M = Deviation from the center pointL K = S/2 + K Use this formula if the fixed end is anything other than the center of travelL K = S/2 + ∆M + K8. Acceleration and inertia: It is critical to ensure that the cable carrier is strong enough to support theapplication. If it isn’t, the results can be devastating. The carrier can literally snap in two. In order toascertain that the carrier is strong enough, use the following formula to determine the force required foryour application.*First, determine the acceleration force. Acceleration force is the force required to keep the cablecarrier moving once it has started.Acceleration Force (lb) = Total Weight lb (carrier and fill) x Acceleration ft/sec 2*Then determine the push force. Push force is the force required to get the cable carrier moving andovercome inertia.*Once those numbers are determined, calculate the force of the application by:Acceleration Force + Push Force = Force RequiredThe force required must be less than the maximum force for the selected carrier. Cable carriermanufacturers typically do not publish the maximum force allowance for their products, but igus®technicians will calculate the force required for your application and select the proper size carrier tomeet this requirement.9. Accessories: A variety of accessories are designed to further facilitate the energy supply system.They can include: igus Inc. | 1-800-521-2747 | sales@igus.com | www.igus.com
  • 6. Interior separators or shelves ensure proper alignment of the cables within the carrier and preventfriction, tangling and corkscrewing. These are available in both vertical and horizontal implementations.Mounting brackets are almost always required to attach the carrier system to the machine itself.Plastic or steel brackets made of a single piece are for smaller carriers. Others have aluminumbushings in the bracket to prevent damage when tightening the bolts. These can either pivot forstandard applications or lock into place for vertical or side-mounted, gliding applications.Guide troughs are available for long-travel applicationsRollers can be used for even longer-travel applications.Extender crossbars enable the use of oversized conduits.Strain relief is another common accessory designed to keep cables in position at both ends of thecarrier. Sometimes strain relief at just the moving end is sufficient, depending on the application, andhydraulic or other fluid hoses should only be strain relieved on the moving end.Strain relief can consist of profile rails, clamps, tie wraps and tie wrap plates. Improper, or lack of, strainrelief is a common cause of cable and hose failure. The strain relief clamps hold the cable in the neutralaxis of the carrier. This prevents the cables from being pulled against the inner radius of the carrier orpushed against the outer radius of the carrier where it can be damaged or incur wear. While it mayseem like an insignificant point, strain relief can often make - or break - the success of an application.Of course, specifying a cable carrier can be a complicated process, but only if you opt to Do-It-Yourself.Instead, consider asking igus® to help you with your application. We have years of experience and canmake suggestions based on your application parameters.>> Energy Chains® inquiry: Let igus® do the work for you!Useful Links>> Learn more: Energy Chain® cable carriers>> Energy Chain® Product Finder>> Request catalog or sample igus Inc. | 1-800-521-2747 | sales@igus.com | www.igus.com