Cable Chain

by rhodeseng, published

Cable Chain by rhodeseng Jan 29, 2013
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Cable Chain that uses a separate pin for the hinge, this enables a long unsupported length. Cable channel area is 6.8mm*15mm.


I needed a cable chain for my pick and place machine so I made this cable chain just to see if I could get usable result at home (was looking at buying some).

This cable chain is a little work to assemble but the result is a chain that can run unsupported for an over hang of over 500mm with a droop of as little as 5mm.

Each link adds 22mm to the length, the holes are 2.3mm in the design but print smaller. I used a 2.4mm Styrene tube (Evergreen EVE223 0.093in 3/32) for the pins. For the chain to move freely I drilled the holes, the outer holes where drilled with a 2.4mm drill and the inner holes drilled with a 2.5mm drill.

I found that the 2.4mm Styrene tube was a good fit in the drilled 2.4mm hole (the hole closes up a little because its drilled in thin ABS), none of the pins have moved in the chain used on my machine to date.

The drilling for a 28 link chain took about 5min, time well spent for the result of a strong smooth moving chain.

I simply pushed the Styrene tube used for the pins through the chain links assembling them, then used a knife to cut the tube off and repeated for the remainder of the chain.

After the chain is assembled I used a knife to scrape the surface between each link at the base to make the chain flat. The more time you spend doing this the flatter your chain will be when unsupported. Took me about 10min to get it flat to within 5mm over 500mm.

The pin is used as the retainer for the cable and the cable channel area is 6.8mm*15mm.

It was printed on a MakerBot Replicator with the following setup:

Object infill = 20% (the parts are so thin this does not really matter, but it should be > 5%)
Layer Thickness = 0.333mm
Number of shells = 1 (just to make the links a little stronger)
Feed rate = 30mm/sec (could be slower if the parts are not printing well)

There is an stl file for the Replicator (99mm168mm) 28 links (616mm chain) and ThingOmatic (99mm100mm) 16 links (352mm chain), also a single link for those that are bored and want to print one at a time.

Note: If you print a single link (or small number at a time) you will have to slow the print down to stop the part melting as it prints.

Note: A knife is used in the assembly of this chain, care must be used to stop your fingers being separated from you body or other wise damaged. Remember the knife has no brain so use your own.

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I will probably tweek this a little to make the hinge hole fit 1.75mm filament in stead of the tube you're talking about. Other than that this thing is awesome. I didn't like any of the other chains I was looking at due to needing support material and stuff. Thanks for the work.

That'a a great idea (like so many things in life....wish I had thought of it). I'll look at doing an updated version for that. Thanks for the feedback.

Very nice. This might make a good protector for the X-axis cable on the right side of the Replicator. I've noticed that it rubs against the belts, and this looks like it could keep the wires and belts running cleanly parallel. What do you think?

A narrow version of this design could do that job. If this is a wide spread problem in the assembly of the Replicator and there was interest I could design a version for this purpose. My Replicator has a twist in the cables that makes the
cable want to poke out the right hand end of the machine away from the belts,
maybe a twist would do just as good a job.

I think that as shipped the cables are twisted as you describe. I noticed the rubbing after I swapped a failed X-stop cable, so it sounds like I should give it a twist to see if that does the trick.