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Machine Compare

Taking the guesswork out of industrial chains: Your easy guide

4 June 2021

If you’re not fully familiar with the different sizes and types of industrial chains, it’s easy to get lost in translation. We’ve taken the guesswork out of chains by laying out fundamentals in this simple guide.

What are industrial chains?

Chains have been around for centuries, with the earliest kind traced back as far as the 1600s and Leonardo Da Vinci. Allowing for the efficient transfer of power, and unburdening humans from having to exert huge amounts of energy, chains have become lucrative items across industries, supporting the unique needs of food, printing, transportation, agriculture and more. And through continuous refinement, chains continue to become more efficient in reducing friction, increasing power transmission and enhancing durability.

On a component level, chains consist of a series of metal links joined together to form a flexible connector.

In general, chains tend to be found in relatively low speed and higher torque applications in comparison to, for example, belt drives. Applications can include speed reducers for gearboxes, conveyor drives and forklifts.

Benefits of industrial chains

There are several benefits to industrial chains, some of which include:

  • Robustness. To withstand demanding industry applications, chains are designed to be very robust. This means you can be more or less reassured that they will not snap during operation – and with the right maintenance in place, they can also last for years.
  • High efficiency. Thanks to the toothed sprockets that grip the chain, they are very efficient.
  • Maintenance-free alternatives are available. Maintenance-free chains are available for use in applications that are difficult to access. This not only prolongs the life of the chain but also comes with the added benefit of increased worker safety.
  • Attachments are available. Attachments such as buckets are available for conveying material.

Different types of chains

Although most chains share common characteristics, they tend to have different tolerances in terms of bearing weight and length of service. Industrial chains, for example, tend to fall under one of two standards agencies: ANSI (American National Standards Institute) or ISO (International Standards Organisation), also known as British Standard.

Three common types of chains include:

Round steel chains. These types of chains are often found in the construction and shipping industries. These chains are good at transmitting power and force, with their designs both durable and able to withstand tremendous pulling force and carry large and heavy loads.

Roller chains. Roller chains are the most common and widely-used chain types industry-wide and globally. The main purpose of this type of chain is to transfer mechanical energy to a load to initiate movement. The variation of gear and sprocket sizes also make roller chains superior in increasing the power of work generated by machines. Since these chains are designed to fit different sprockets to facilitate load movement, you’ll often see these components paired up. Motorcycles, tractors, harvesters and other large agricultural machines are some of the applications that you’ll find roller chains being implemented. Similar to steel chains, roller chains have high weight ratings ranging from 1,000 to 150,000 pounds of tensile strength. When it comes to power capacity, these chains can handle various applications involving repetitive lifting and conveyor utilization. 

Conveyor chains. Conveyor chains work similarly to roller chains but differ in terms of load placement. In roller chains, the load tends to be found or applied at the opposite end of the sprocket directly connected to the machine. When it comes to conveyor belts, however, the chains facilitating movement are designed to handle weights directly applied to them. This translates into the movement of boxes, assembly parts, pallets and other objects from one point to another. Conveyor belts are designed for carrying heavy items for long durations, which is why you will commonly find them in industries like automotive and food.

When choosing an industrial chain, here are some things to consider:

When it comes to choosing a chain for your given application, here are some things to consider:

  • Type of application. 
  • Shock load.
  • Source of Power. This includes motor type: rated power (kW): moment of inertia I (kg • m2); rated torque at driving speed; starting torque; and stopping torque.
  • Drive sprocket rpm and shaft diameter
  • Center distance between sprockets
  • Noise constraints 
  • Possibilities for lubrication

Popular chains categories on Marketplace 

There’s a range of different chains listed on Marketplace. Let the links below guide you or use the simple search tool on the site. Or why not take a shortcut? View all chains currently listed on Marketplace by clicking hereDon’t forget, as a first-time user on the site, you can claim an exclusive 5% off your first order – that includes the whole basket. Claim your discount here.

To make your life easier and your spare parts buying process future-proof, discover our 8 crucial tips on how to streamline the purchasing process and save money while doing so.

Brand or Seller Product name Manufacturer Code










CHAIN 08B-3 (Pitch=1









Stora Enso


Spare parts for Octopus STRAP GUIDE CHAIN 0462334





DS Smith Chain Not Double 19.05 Rs12B2



RS12B 2



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