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Wiring a sliding Arm

Wiring a sliding Arm

Wiring a sliding Arm

Hi There!
We need to design a device that (among other stuff) consists in a box running back and forth along two rails, which needs to have a bar, underneath and across it, and in this bar there should be a device that has to slide left & right using probably 4 small wheels running inside a slot in the bar.

This bar should be 3 meter long, and the device sliding along it should receive power and data (at least 4 wires in total) to it, so we need to find a solution to run these wires that allows free movement left & right

First option would be something like those flex wires inside printers and plotters, but I don't see this working for a 3 meters run, and also those are usually thin wires and we need to drive some motors and other devices, so at least 2-3 Amps (estimated) should be delivered to these wires.

Other option would be brushes and 4 copper tracks on the bar but this will be working in a highly saturated environment so I foresee problems with corrosion and bad contact quickly.

Is there something you would advise to design this?

Thanks in advance!

RE: Wiring a sliding Arm


I recommend checking out the Igus web site. As you mention, you will need cables that are flex rated so they don't fail or tie themselves in knots internally. For the run length, you will want to support the cable with a cable chain. Cable bend radius and chain bend radius can be selected to work with your application. Igus makes them along with Kabelschlepp on several others.

Igus is helpful with the engineering aspects of the cable system and typically provide samples.



RE: Wiring a sliding Arm

I second Kyle's recommendation of Igus.

RE: Wiring a sliding Arm

A sketch always helps. There would be better discussion of the application if the problem was visualized.

is another good source for cable carriers and peripherals.

RE: Wiring a sliding Arm

Also check Gortite and Kabelschlepp. They make a full range of cable carriers, even for large machine tools with very long strokes. I once worked on a water jet machine with a 115 ft x-axis. The cable carrier was a beast.

RE: Wiring a sliding Arm

Wow! Thanks everyone for their suggestions!
Yes I understand a skecth would help on this

I made a really quick and dirty draft of what I have in mind.
The "checkered" box has to travel back and forth along the long rail.
I understand I would have to get both the flex wire and the cable carrier arms, but I still don't see how this would attach to the rail. I mean, while the moving box it at one end (remote end), how would the carrier remain stuck to the rail, instead of being loose? And while the box is at the other end (near end) how would the carrier remain all flexed and collapsed so it's not hanging all around?

Thanks again everyone!

RE: Wiring a sliding Arm

All cable carriers have a fixed and and a moving end. The fixed end is normally where all the conveyed utilities (power, signals, air, whatever) enter the carrier. There is no relative motion between that fixed point and the entrance of the carrier. The moving end is attached to the carriage, so that there is no relative motion between the exit of the carrier and the carriage. You must have solid connection points at each end of the carrier. Depending on its length and design you might also have to provide intermediate supports along its length. I strongly suggest you contact technical support at each of these companies, describe your situation, and let them make recommendations. They can also provide you with sample applications to give you a better idea how its done. That's what they are there for.

RE: Wiring a sliding Arm

Alright, I have send an inquiry form to all the advised providers, and checked their websites for matching products, but hopefully they understand my requirements and are able to propose something that fits.

Thanks again everyone responding here!

RE: Wiring a sliding Arm


Another item to look for is called a wire festoon system.


RE: Wiring a sliding Arm

I checked those festoon systems and from what it looks it takes some space between the carrier rod and the moving box, and in our case we are very limited right tnere. We have more space sideways (ahead and behind) so that's why I believe that some system that flexes in several segments at one side would be better.


RE: Wiring a sliding Arm

Hi @edugimeno - interesting application! Yours is particularly cool because it utilizes linear bearings, flexible cables, and cable management!

Thanks to everyone who suggested igus components in the comments above!


RE: Wiring a sliding Arm

Sure! I have already been in touch with your local Igus distributor here in Spain and have held several sessions discussing the most appropiate solution for this necessity.


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