Printable Cable Chain for CNC, two-piece, snap-open, 20mm x 40mm, 64mm radius (v1.12)

Couple of points first:

I designed this because I’m making a CNC plasma table so I wanted large drag chain. If you’re doing a normal LowRider v3 you may likely be able to simply use your vac hose as your cord constraint, or if not you probably can use smaller drag chain than this.

Second, injection molded drag chain is definitely better and I would spring for it if I was not at the limit of my budget. :slight_smile: So for me this is an acceptable work around. That said….

Cable Chain for CNC, two-piece, snap-open, 20mm x 40mm, 64mm radius (v1.12)

Free STL download: Printables

Change log:

  • July 30, 2022: posted tweaked version of both chain link and snap-on clip, to strengthen the clip’s grip on the chain link.

  • August 4, 2022: provided additional choices so that the fronts and backs can have wires/cords exit “above” or “below.” Renamed design to version 1.12. All added new parts are compatible with the previous versions of this design.

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I printed a bunch of cable chain when I built my first MPCNC. My printer was slightly skewed. It was less than I could measure on a single print, but the 1m of chain I printed had an obvious bend to it.

The solution is simple, just print half the links rotated 180 (rotated around Z) Or better yet, print them in all 4 cardinal directions.

For your printables, I would just add one stl with the 4 pieces oriented in different directions on the build plate, to make it easy for people to print them that way.

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What I may do is add a note about that option to rotate in slicer. It’s good advice but one thing I want to avoid is overwhelming with too many files to choose from.

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Printed cable chain can be fun, but anymore I prefer just buying decent chain instead. The way an injection moulded chain works is impossible to replicate on a printer due to layer lines on the bearing surfaces. I think maybe higher resolution abs with vapor polish may come close, but at the end of the day igus chain is not that expensive.

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Have bought before and absolutely would buy now if I had the cash. For current project, size and length I need of injection molded would be well over $100. So I am doing a side step to get going. Have a whole wall of plastic and some time. May well replace later, but this will get me going.

Looks neat. Thanks for sharing!

Appreciate this topic’s timing, chain was on my todo list since my cables currently drag across the surface. Appreciate the print orientation advice. Haven’t printed drag chain before, looks fun, so am kicking off a batch while I do something else. Igus look interesting for future stuff. Will see how this LR3 bespoke chain turns out… cheers!

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A given printer’s calibration has an impact on how straight of a line the cable chain (drag chain) holds when suspended. If you find (after printing a batch of the chain links and assembling) that you have some sag, use your printer’s percentage settings to increase flow. If the batch won’t quite lay straight, do the reverse, reducing flow. I would think 3-5% at a time, depending on how far off perfect it is. Maybe only 1-2%.

Also, I had my best success at getting the clips printed (the snap-on tops) by printing a whole sheet of nothing but them. For some reason my attempts to print the clips along side the chain links, resulted in the clips separating from the bed and just being a lost part of the print. Thanks to them not being a lot of grams worth, there was not much “spaghetti.” I allowed those flawed print jobs to complete because the chain links were still good.

Prepping the bed with a coating of hairspray first is probably a good idea. That and making sure the Z height is zeroed in for that all-important first layer.

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First batch came out ok, except for one clip. Bed looks scabby, so… cleaning up, laying fresh bed glue, checking level before kicking off next batch.

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Dang, it has been a while since I looked at prices for chain… you are right printing chain seems way more sensible.

injection molded drag chain is definitely better and I would spring for it if I was not at the limit of my budget. :slight_smile:

So for me this is an acceptable work around.

Cool color changing on the batch! Clever.

I think each batch of nine comes out to about 17" worth of drag chain.

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Curious to see how everyone is mounting it to the LR3?

Couple of points first:
I designed this because I’m making a CNC plasma table so I needed larger chain. If you’re doing a normal LowRider v3 you may be able to simply use your vac hose as your cord constraint, or if not you probably can use smaller drag chain. Second, injection molded drag chain is definitely better and I would spring for it if I was not at the limit of my budget. :slight_smile: So for me this is an acceptable work around.

All that said, I designed a LR3 cable chain mount (for smaller chain) that I plan to remix for this. Link to it can be found in the hardware development category here on just by searching my models on Printables.

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I have not gotten that far with the build to consider the house as the cable guide! Very smart.
Thank you for that little knowledge nugget.

I did start printing your chain though, so Ill give it a test run on something else and report back.

I can’t take credit for the idea— check out Ryan’s pics of finished LowRider 3 and look closely at the vac hose path and realize the hose is guiding / constraining his power cord (for router) and related X motor wires etc.

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One possible use for this big drag chain, even on regular LowRider, might be not your X axis constraint of cords, but rather a Y axis treatment for cords. Maybe.

@DougJoseph, this one lowrider-3-cnc-cable-chain-mount-v10 ? Sounds good. Am also curious how you’re mounting this 20mm x 40mm to your LR3. Look forward to pic if/when you get a chance. Cheers!

Yes that’s the one. I’ll be remixing the attachment parts to fit the wider chain.

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Sounds great, thanks @DougJoseph. Probably won’t get around to using it for a while, but 'll keep an eye out for it. Cheers!

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Good work Doug, I like to print chains because I hate waiting for it. I also designed a two part chain for my last CNC build - so much easier for maintenance access.

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