This very widely used product was developed in the early 1970's. While several North American and European producers have entered the business, the product still possesses the same features. Namely, as formed metal support sheath and a polymer insert profile. By keeping the support sheath uniform, a wide variety of clamps, clips and splice sleeves can be used to give the machine builder great freedom in the design of the GUIDE RAIL support. And, a number of insert choices allow for selecting a product that will suit a wide range of applications.

The vast majority (+90%) of GUIDE RAIL is manufactured using Stainless Steel Alloy S30400 for the SHEATH. And the majority (+60%) is 14-gauge (0.074 inch) material thickness.

For a number of years, European producers and more recently one American producer, has used 16-gauge (0.065 inch) material in order to offer a lower cost product to the market. The resultant loss in stiffness becomes very apparent in applications with any line backpressure or in belt support applications producing a "roller coaster" effect. To overcome the drop in stiffness, the American producer introduced a lip, on both "legs" of the SHEATH, extending about 1/3 of the way into the polymer insert. Unfortunately, this structure is very difficult to bend without "kinking" the sheath, reducing the apparent gain in stiffness.

Just recently, The Spiratex Company introduced a SHEATH design featuring 18-gauge (0.049 inch) material with the "legs" being formed over producing a leg thickness of 0.098 inch and an equivalent stiffness to the 14-gauge product; but with a lower cost. In addition, the recess where the leg material is formed over allows the insert to be manufactured with a locking lip. Click here to see this new product.

The SHEATH is also available in Stainless Steel Alloy S31600 for severe corrosion applications. And for a number of years an American producer has offered Galvanized Steel for the sheath at a lower cost. However, with more producers in the market and the cost of the Stainless Steel SHEATH product declining, now there is almost no cost advantage for Galvanized Steel. And there is always the potential for scratching the galvanized finish that would lead to corrosion.

By far, Natural UHMW Polyethylene is the choice of producers for the INSERT material. This product offers high wear resistance, low coefficient of friction, resistance to a very wide range of chemicals, reasonable temperature resistance and ease of forming.

For somewhat lower friction, lubricant can be added to the UHMW Polyethylene; and the best know lubricated product is NOLU-S®. Due to the plasticizing nature of its lubricant system, NOLU-S® is softer than Natural UHMW Polyethylene and greatly softens when heated resulting in a continuous operating temperature of 140°F. Also, in dusty environments, such as flour or starch packing, or in the presence of carton dust, a pasty residue from the lubricant and dust can form on the surface of NOLU-S®, increasing the friction. One North American producer of UHMW Polyethylene sheet adds an oil to act as a lubricant. Such a product is even softer than NOLU-S®, is more adversely affected by temperature increase and forms a very troublesome "goo" when exposed to dust. In the latter half of the 1990's, Nolu Plastics Inc. offered their NOLU-S® with a blend of reground NOLU-S® trimmings. Recently a North American producer resurrected NOLU-S® produced using regrind material, in the same manner as Reprocessed UHMW Polyethylene. The resultant product offers some improvement in stiffness and load bearing capability, but with the consequent drop in impact resistance. Recently, Symplastics Limited introduced a Lubricated UHMW Polyethylene material that does not use a petroleum-based lubricant and so the stiffness, at room and elevated temperatures is as good, or slightly better than Natural Virgin UHMW Polyethylene. Claremont Polymer Shapes can produce special GUIDE RAILS using this far superior, Lubricated UHMW Polyethylene giving you a much better product. For high temperature, Teflon®-type PTFE is often used for the INSERT. Due to the low physical properties and poor abrasion resistance of PTFE, a filled grade is often used for the INSERT. You should determine from the GUIDE RAIL producer what has been used for the reinforcing filler. Often, GLass-Fibre is used to stiffen PTFE. However, Glass-Fiber is very abrasive and scratching or wear of a mating surface might occur. Claremont Polymer Shapes can manufacture, to your specifications, special High Temperature GUIDE RAIL not using abrasive materials for the INSERT.

In some applications, if a polymer material, or other non-conductor, slides over the polymer INSERT, a static charge can develop. When handling PET and other plastic bottles, the use of a GUIDE RAIL with an Anti-Static INSERT will allow any static charge to be dissipated, if you provide a conductive path for the charge. In aerosol filling applications, Anti-Static GUIDE RAIL will help minimize the chance of electrical discharge and a resultant explosion. The most common material for an Anti-Static INSERT is UHMW Polyethylene with a black conductive carbon additive.

To produce an INSERT with much better load bearing capability than natural UHMW Polyethylene one North American producer uses Nylatron® MD Nylon. This product has about 3 times the load bearing capability of natural UHMW Polyethylene. But, it has a very much higher frictional drag since MD Nylons are very "dry" products. Claremont Polymer Shapes can manufacture GUIDE RAIL INSERTS from Lubricated Cast Nylon 6 offering a slightly lower load bearing capability, but a coefficient of friction close to that of natural UHMW Polyethylene, with no additional cost over GUIDE RAILS using MD Nylon.

Click here to see the range of Spiratex® 14 Gauge Stainless Steel Sheath Guide Rails

Click here to see the range of Spiratrex® Aluminum Guide Rails.

Click here to see the range of Artek® Guide Rails.

Click here to see the range of Valu Guide® Guide Rails.

Click here to see the range of Marbett® European Guide Rails.

An often over looked and very valuable accessory to any Conveyor building shop is a Guide Rail Bender. This three-roll device is used to curve GUIDE RAILS for the inside and outside radii when a Conveyor line must go around a corner. After listening to feedback from our customers and using existing units in the marketplace as a template, we have designed our Rail Bender to have a lower profile, to have all of the gearing on the inside to reduce the risk of injury and have added parts from the Elesa® line of machinery components to give it a cleaner, more professional look. Improvements to our Guide Rail Bender include hardening of the threaded shaft on the indexing roller and the addition of thrust bearings at the end of the threaded shaft for longer life of the indexing roller block, specifically in the case of bending heavy Aluminum GUIDE RAILS. As well, we've included a robust storage crate that is also suitable for shipping the bender within. The end result is a smoother-running unit at an economical price.

See our Rail Bender in action!

Since Claremont Polymer Shapes represents a wide range of producers, we can offer a critical evaluation of each manufacturer's product. The support of our clients, through their on-going purchases, makes this possible. If you are one of our clients, thank-you, you support is very much appreciated. If you are not, what's the problem: you are missing out on a valuable resource!