Compact cable guidance to the milling head of a machine tool

Interlocking energy chains guide a variety of media in a very small installation space.

The application involves the swivel head of a milling centre, which rotates by over 90° around the workpiece to be machined. This enables more flexible and faster machining with a single clamping operation. The problem: the large number of cables that have to be guided to the milling head in an extremely confined installation space and with accelerations of approx. 540° per second and about 90 movements per minute. The solution: two interlocking e-chains from igus, types B15i and B17.


  • What was needed: energy chains from the B15i and B17 series
  • Requirements: guidance of a large number of cables in the tightest of installation spaces and at high travelling accelerations
  • Industry sector: machine tool construction, CNC milling centre
  • Success for the customer: two interlocking energy chains use the available installation space perfectly and guide all cables safely; the chains are modified to allow a reverse bend radius
Energy chain The external B17 chain can be opened outwards, while the B15i is accessible from the inside.


Chiron-Werke GmbH is a manufacturer of CNC-controlled machining centres. The swivel head of a milling centre from the machine specialist rotates by over 90° around the workpiece to be machined. This enables faster machining of the workpiece and reduces costs thanks to even more processing options with a single machining operation.
The problem with this application was guiding the cables to the milling head from a large number of cables in an extremely tight installation space and under high accelerations (approx. 540° per second and about 90 movements per minute). It was necessary to make optimum use of the installation space while maintaining the service life of the energy supply system and cables.
Another challenge was that both energy chains had to be fitted with a number of links that could realise a reverse bend.


The machine manufacturer decided in favour of an energy chain solution from the igus product portfolio. Based on all the mechanical parameters, the best technical cable guidance for the requirement profile consisted of two B15i and B17 series energy chains, one inside the other. The B15i running on the inside is accompanied by the slightly larger B17 energy chain on the outside. Due to the tight installation space and the required pivoting movement, individual links of the chain were reworked and provided with a so-called RBR (reverse bend radius). Due to the connection to the moving end, a special solution also had to be designed, fixing both energy chains to the moving end at the same time. A special connection piece is used for this purpose today. The compact energy chains are ideal for the particularly tight installation space in the application. At the same time, they safely guide all cables in the system, even at high and fast-clocked travelling speeds.

Sketch of energy chain
Sketch of energy chain A special connecting piece is used on the moving end to accommodate the ends of both chains.