It can sometimes be challenging to try to determine chain series for tabletop conveyor systems. Since the patents have been expiring on FlexLink plastic chain conveyors they have come out with a variety of new series, which to the casual observer look like the old style. But they are not backwards compatible, so we have to be discerning when we try to tell the conveyors apart. With that in mind let’s explore a few ways to determine what the heck you are looking at, shall we?

Frequently used FlexLink plastic chain conveyor series with their widths.

The image above shows a selection of FlexLink’s conveyor series from the catalog along with their widths in millimeters and in inches. As you can see, there is some overlap in the series dimensions. This makes it hard to know exactly what you are looking at just by measuring the chain beam or the width of the link. Don’t worry though! We have options!

For today I am going to focus on how to tell the difference between X65 and XL which both have a chain beam width of 65mm and a chain width of 63mm, and X85 and XM conveyor systems which both have a chain beam width of 85mm and a chain width of 83mm. If you have information available in a customer manual it can be easy, but those get misplaced easily. So we are going to focus on figuring out conveyor series with different visual inspections!

The most obvious way to tell what series you have is by checking labels found on your conveyor. There are some standard naming processes. For example, a ninety degree wheel bend will be XLBH 90A65R150 for a X65 system. It is a XLBH 90R150 A on an XL series conveyor. Along those same lines a ninety degree wheel bend in the X85 series is a XBBH 90A85R160. The similar bend is called a XMBH 90R150 A in XM. So if it has “A65” or “A85” in the name it is not an XL or XM series system.

But let’s say you can’t find any labels on your system. That would be too easy, and if you have working in manufacturing long you know that life doesn’t happen that way. How else can we tell them apart? I have two methods for you. Look at the chain beam extrusion pattern, or look closely at the chain. Let’s dive in!

A daigram pointing out the differences between old style and new style conveyor extrusion.

Upon casual glance, the chain beam extrusion looks the same. When you look closely you can see some differences. X65 and X85 systems have irregularly shaped channels in the beam. So, if it is pointy and not flat it is the new style. Additionally, X65 only has one channel formed into the extrusion because FlexLink decided to go with internal beam connectors rather than connecting strips for the new design (which is a tangent I shouldn’t go down, but if you pull the chain out of your 2.5″ extrusion and have holes on both sides of a beam break, you likely have an X65). Conversely, XL and XM have two rectangular slots, or channels, formed into the beam for connecting and mounting purposes.

Admittedly, without pulling the drive or the idler off it can be hard to tell what you are looking at sometimes. So there is one final way of assessing which series you are looking at. Examine the chain!

A diagram showing the difference between XL/X65 and XM/X85 chains. The top row here is X65 vs XL, and the bottom is X85 vs XM. There are two areas to look at. The cavity, and the pin and pin hole.

X65 has a large triangular cavity for the pivot, which looks kind of like a red tadpole. It also features a triangular pin. XL has a small cavity for a round white pivot, and a rounded pin.

X85 has an oblong cavity rather than the oval cavity in the XM chain and they both use round white pivots, so I find the easiest thing to see is that the top of the pin hole in X85 is flat, but it is round in XM.

Actually, those pictures are from the catalog, and while they can be good in a pinch I have done us one better. One benefit of having such a large FlexLink inventory in house is my ability to wander out to the shelves and pull actual examples of things to look at, so here we go!

How to tell X85 vs XM conveyor chain apart  How to tell X65 vs XL conveyor chain apart

So there you go. That is how you tell new style and old style FlexLink 65mm and 85mm conveyors apart. I hope it helps!

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