Roller Chain Information

Roller Chain image

Roller chain is used in power transmission applications. Specialty applications for roller chain include oil-field chain, bindery chain, lift chain, pin oven chain, film feeder chain, and coupling chain.

Types of Roller Chain

Roller chain types include standard, heavy duty, double pitch for light loads, attachment options, and many application-specific geometries.

Video Credit: U.S. Tsubaki Power Transmission, LLC / CC BY-SA 4.0


Common features for roller chain include attachment chain, double pitch, oversized roller, rollerless, offset link, heavy duty, self-lubricating, corrosion resistant, and flexible.

Roller chain with an attachment type includes standard straight, standard bent, wide contour straight, wide contour bent, and extended pins.


Standard configurations for roller chain include single, double, triple, quadruple, and quintuple or higher. A single configuration has one chain strand. A double configuration has two chain strands, and so on.


Roller Chain image

Roller chain comes in a wide variety of metal and plastic materials. Common materials of construction include steel or hardened steel, stainless steel, nylon, acetal, polypropylene, and plastic or metal combination.

Many factors such as cost, environmental conditions, noise and heat generation and design horsepower transmission influence the best material choice. Consult a chain manufacturer on a specific application for material optimization.


Important mechanical specifications to consider when searching for roller chain include:

  • Tensile strength - The ultimate failure tension load of a chain.
  • Maximum allowable load - The tension for which chain is rated to carry in running operation.
  • Chain weight - Specified in weight per unit length and varies with pitch and special construction techniques.

An important environmental parameter to consider is the operating temperature.

Pitch and Standards

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) governs number designations for roller chain pitch. English roller chain and sprockets are categorized according to ANSI B 29.1M. The number can be used to identify pitch in the following way: the first digits identify the pitch in 1/8" increments, and the last digit is 0 for standard proportions, 1 for lightweight chain, and 5 for rollerless bushed chain. A #41 sprocket is therefore for 1/2"-pitch lightweight chain, a #120 sprocket is for 1-1/2" pitch chain, etc.

British Standard / DIN / International Standards Organization (ISO) designations are governed by European standards committees. Metric roller chain and sprockets are categorized according to ISO Standard 606. The number correlates to pitch in 1/16" increments, expressed in millimeter units. AN ISO 12 sprocket therefore mates with a chain with 3/4", or 19.05mm, pitch.

ISO 487 - Steel roller chains, types S & C, attachments and sprockets

ASME B29.100 - Double-pitch roller chains, attachments, and sprockets

Image Credits:

U.S. Tsubaki Power Transmission, LLC | Hangzhou Chinabase Machinery Co., Ltd. | Berg W.M., Inc.


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