Choosing the right chain for horizontal use

Capacity and Stability

The capacity range of rigid chains includes standard types - from 5,000 N to 16,000 N maximum capacity (per single chain) and specialized versions that allow for even higher forces. The capacity that our chain types can deliver is determined by size, structure, whether they are guided, and if so, which type guide.


As you expect, the size of the chain is the main element for determining capacity. We classify the chain size by the pitch of the chain, i.e., the length of each link, measured between two consecutive cross axes. Standard pitches are 40, 60, or 90 mm. We indicate this measurement in the name; for instance, a CH 60 would be 60 mm when measured.


To look at how the capacity can be increased for all chain sizes, we can start with the simplest version. A simple chain, indicated by an “S” in the name, will have two rows of link plates, no outer rollers, and will be driven by two pinions that engage to the left and right of the central rollers. Reinforcing the chain by simply adding side plates can be the easiest way to increase capacity and may be the right solution for your particular project.

But as the drive pinions of the chain apply the thrust force, if we add pinions, the thrust will be distributed over more target points, thereby making higher forces possible. For this, our duplex version, the “D” chain, is comprised of three rows of plates (as if it were a chain and a half) and has three pinions. The “J” chain has four rows (as if two chains were joined together in the middle) and has four pinions.

Each addition to the structure increases the capacity and makes it less susceptible to lateral movement, thereby providing more stable movement.


Guides stabilize the chain, so its full capacity is available over any distance. With shorter strokes (up to 5 meters), it is not necessary to guide the chain if the load is guided. There are two ways of using the chain without guides: shoulders up or shoulders down. To ensure stability, we do not recommend shoulders-up orientation when the stroke exceeds 3 m. Shoulders-down provides the most stable motion since the chain’s rigidity is ensured by both the shoulder’s contact with the worktop and the chain’s weight. However, use above 5 m of stroke is not recommended.

For longer strokes, guides must be used, regardless of whether the chains are used with shoulders up or down. There are two standard guide types: E-profile rails or flat T-shaped tracks. With E-guiding, additional rollers prop up the chain against the inner walls of the rail. As the chain is partially or totally inside the rail, the load has to run on another level, either beneath or above. With T-guiding, the chain is kept on the top surface of the rail by lateral grippers mounted on every fourth or fifth link. The T guides take up only a small space and allow the load to run on the same level as the chain, making for a very cost-effective solution.

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Your SERAPID representative is your best source for determining what chain would be best for your project. Contact us by phone, website or email by clicking this link.

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