Drag Chain

by Zaggo, published

Drag Chain by Zaggo Sep 5, 2009

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This is a drag chain for the MakerBot extruder cable (or any other cable/wires).

It keeps your extruder cable out of the Z-stage belt and let your MakerBot look professional (kind of...)

The objects need very detailed printing in order to work. You definitely want a good tuned MakerBot and Skeinforge settings to print this (don't say I didn't warn you!).

The ZIP file contains GCode files for all objects, including 6 or 8 chain links on one raft. It might be the best to skeinforge the gcode with your own, tuned settings. The included GCode files worked for me (resp. my MakerBot), but (again): these are some really hairy objects to print.


  • Print as many chain links as you need or like. For the extruder cable on my Makerbot I use 12 links.
  • If you insert a standard patch cable (like the extruder cable which came with the MakerBot batch 5 kits), you shouldn't need any additional closing mechanism. If you insert only a few wires, print out one or more "Closing Sticks". Cut the stick into pieces and use the notch in the chain links to hold the wires inside the chain.
  • If your extruder cable is mounted upright (default, when using the MK3 Plastruder), you sholdn't need any special end link. If your extruder driver card is mounted horizontal (like mine in the photos), print the optional "End Corner Extruder" piece. Use this piece as last link on the extruder side and tape it to the RJ45 jack (see photo). Clip the flat part if needed.
  • To mount the drag chain to the MakerBot body (or elsewhere), print the "Chain Anchor" piece. It has holes for using the upper Z endstop bolts to mount it to the outside of the body. Then just use the notch on the last chain link to attach the drag chain to the anchor.

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I'm having lots of troubles with the overhang on this part. How do I print this? Could someone enlighten me please?

I was going to buy some from McMaster, $11 a foot is a bit steep I thought, but my teacher told me that it was cheap compared to making them. Ha.. now to print this

How long to print each piece? I'm looking at 2m (perhaps).


I made one!!!
Worked pretty well with my bot
I think it needs to be scaled up a bit if you want to use a patch cable with it. When my cable was inserted into the chain it was pretty stiff and you could only fit maybe one more single wire in there with it, if it were maybe 30% bigger I think it would do a lot better. May do this soon and check it out. Great job, thanks!!!

Fairly confident that this will work (at most with minor adjustments) as a Bowden cable (filament guide)!
This is great news, since you don't need to rely on a supplier of PTFE tubing material of very precise inner diameters!

Anyone tried printing it and using it for guiding filament as well? I guess that it would work well as a bowden guide especially when printed from HDPE...
Bowden is really great for a moving toolhead setup such as Darwin and Mendel. Moving table as well if you're attempting several toolheads and have a tight spot to fit them in.

See my blog and this post:

Made one...er....several.....because things shrink when they print i had to reduce the size of the anchor by 1 click downscale in blender...but it works like a charm

How did you get the 2 indents to print on the makerbot without support material? I thought this wasnt possible?

As long as you keep the overhang
lt; 45
° it usually works. And as long as you keep the structure rather small you can even bend the first rule somewhat.

The first rule is the reason for the teardrop shape of larger holes in some objects (and the RepRap logo...), the second rule is the reason for not-teardrop shaped holes as long as the
y are small (e.g. M3 or M4...)

Love it. I was going to design some of these myself, but never got around to it. What every CNC machine needs!

Awesome! looks just like the huge chains that hold the cables on my school's super huge CNC Mill.