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Conveyor rails are components used in certain types of conveyor systems, which are machines used to transport goods or materials from one point in a set space to another. Some conveyors use wheels or cylinders that must be mounted to the machine to facilitate easy movement; the rails act as a frame on which the wheels or cylinders can be mounted. The type of conveyor system will dictate what type of conveyor rails are used in the system; some rail conveyors feature just rails mounted to the floor or other stable structure with wheels or rollers mounted to the rails, while other systems are more complex.
The size and function of the conveyor rails can vary, but most are made of some durable metal such as steel. Light-duty conveyor systems may use plastic rails, but this is not common for durability reasons. Steel is a fairly adaptable metal, which is rugged enough to support the weight of heavy items that will be transported along the conveyor. The wheels that are mounted to the conveyor rails may also be made from steel, though plastics and composites are not uncommon materials to be used for such purposes. Most wheels will feature a bearing through which an axle is secured; this axle is then secured to the rails to allow free movement of the wheels.
Some of the simplest conveyor rails feature an L-shape, with the wheels being mounted to one or both sides of the taller face of the L. The smaller face of the L can then be secured to the conveyor frame to prevent excess movement that may lead to damage to the machine. Other conveyor rails feature an inverted U shape; wheels can be mounted to either side of the U for even greater movement capabilities. A U-shape that is not inverted can allow the wheels to be mounted within the U; one wall of the rail may be taller than the other, thereby acting as a guide for other components or for goods being transported along the conveyor system.
Most manufacturers who make conveyor rails will cut several holes in each face of the rail to allow for various mounting configurations. Some holes are intended for mounting wheels, while other holes may be intended for mounting the rails to a frame. Still others may be drilled for specific machines, meaning the holes are strategically placed for optimum versatility.
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