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The evolution of the igus® rol e-chain®

igus rol e-chains shown in fast-forward mode over the last 20 years

For around 50 years, igus has been developing energy supply systems that reliably guide cables and hoses and protect them against damage. Whereas, in the beginning, they were almost exclusively products for the mechanical engineering sector, the invention of the rol e-chain more than 20 years ago brought about the breakthrough into other branches of industry.
The technical basis of this are rollers in the e-chain links that enormously reduce the coefficient of friction on long travels when the upper run of the e-chain runs on the lower run. As a result, a saving of up to 57% of the drive energy required to move the energy chain system can be achieved. The noise created is also reduced considerably. Thanks to the design, travels of up to 1,200m and more are possible.

Free P4.1 sample  

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10x longer service life for rol e-chains

More than 20 years of continuous improvement of the igus rol e-chains for long travels and less drive force
The evolution of the rol e-chain  



The E400R - the first rol e-chain



The integrated rol e-chain 4040RHD

Rol e-chain in crane systems  

The first igus rol e-chain in Europe with a travel of 130 metres as the main way of supplying power to a crane system.

HD rol e-chain in STS cranes  

Heavy-duty rol e-chain used for an STS crane. The "HD version" of the rol e-chain becomes the standard for STS crane applications and ship loaders/unloaders with long travels and high speeds, worldwide.



Divided rol e-chain P4



Smart rol e-chain P4.1

P4 rol e-chain in crane systems  

As an addition to the rol e-chain product range, the P4 is for applications involving very high speeds (<240 m/min) and installations where noise is a very important factor. Where used: worldwide for STS crane systems, ASC cranes etc.

P4.1 rol e-chain  

P4.1 – The latest generation of rol e-chains supersedes the P4 and becomes an endurance runner. In the case of ASC cranes, the P4.1 enables the primary supply of power and data and operates at very high speeds (<300 m/min). Where used: worldwide for STS crane systems, ASC cranes etc.

The most fascinating projects with igus rol e-chains

Lignite excavator

Travels of 615m and in operation without failure since 2008

Compared to previously installed festoon systems, the 5050RHD series e-chain systems® can now reduce the required cable lengths, save installation space and safely and reliably guide all media, such as water and energy. The 5050RHD series is used in the large lignite excavator in the Czech Republic.  

Conveyor system in a mine

Long travel of 550m under extreme conditions

The 5050HD series e-chain system and the CF35 chainflex motor cable were installed in a mine on the north coast of Lake Superior in Minnesota in October 2008. The travel is 550m.

Conveyor systems

Energy supply under adverse environmental conditions since 2013

igus energy supply systems (rol e-chain type 5050RHD, chainflex cables and push/pull detection system) are used in conveyor systems.

Ship unloader

Travel of 441m and in operation without failure since 2001

Series 5050R energy chains, CFCrane chainflex cables and fibre optic cables are used in ship unloaders at a modern coal-fired power plant in Malaysia. All energy chains are completely equipped with stainless steel guide troughs and withstand weather conditions.

Comparison of how rol e-chains evolved

E400R series

E400R series  

Due to rollers in the e-chain links, the coefficient of friction and therefore the drive energy needed for energy supply systems can be significantly reduced. Especially in the case of long travels of more than 100 metres, this is a decisive factor, which led to the success of the rol e-chains from igus.

4040RHD series

4040RHD series  

In the second development stage of the rol e-chains, the chain was strengthened at all important points. In the case of this "heavy-duty version", the pin/bore connection in particular was enlarged by 100% while the size of the contact surfaces was increased by more than 30%. As a result, the expected service life doubled compared to the preceding series.

4040RHD series

System P4

System P4  

The P4 is a new development stage. It is characterised by the fact that it operates with considerably less noise and vibration due to the double-roller design, which increases the service life of the system. Due to
the same-sized pitch of standard links and roller links, the polygon effect was reduced as well.

P4 system

System P4.1

System P4.1  

In the latest development stage of the igus rol e-chains, the use of maintenance-free, tribo-polymer plain bearings in the connection of the e-chain links also considerably lengthens the service life. As an option, they can also be fitted with wear sensors, to reliably predict the expected service life of the system. Compared to the first rol e-chain, the expected service life has been more than trebled.

New generation P4.1 system

Fail-safe cables  

Fail-safe cables

Largest range with 1,354 cables types for data, bus and hybrid systems, control system and drive. Specially developed for moving applications in e-chains.

  • Tested and with a 36 month guarantee
  • Numerous approvals, e.g.: UL, DNGVL, EAC, CTP, RoHS
  • Cost-effective
  • No minimum order quantity, no cutting charge
  • For every type of load, even torsion
  • Calculate service life easily online

Further information


Further e-chain applications  

"The evolution of the rol e-chains" (PDF)

igus system guarantee

igus system guarantee  

Every application is different. igus guarantee certificates are issued for your application on an individual basis. Ask for the igus guarantee: "Chain, Cable, Guarantee"