What is the Difference Between MatTop and TableTop Chain?

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The difference between MatTop and TableTop Chains

The main function of a Rexnord FlatTop Chain is to convey or transport products from one point to another. Rexnord FlatTop Chain is used to convey, transfer, accumulate, meter, elevate and lower items of various sizes and shapes.

Conveyor Types:

There are many ways to transport products such as gravity, belt, roller, skate wheel, air, industrial chain, spiral conveyors, and so-called flat top chains.

A belt conveyor consists of a head and tail pulley with a belt stretched between them. Take-up devices are commonly used to keep the belt stretched and to allow the pulleys to drive the belt by friction. The belt either slides on a steel surface or runs on rollers. Since the belt is in tension, it wears or stretches quickly and tracking can sometimes be an issue. Repairs or replacement of belts can be very time consuming.

Roller and skate wheel conveyors can be non-powered (gravity) or powered. In either case, the rollers rotate on bearings. Depending on the type, size, or condition of the rollers, the product may not always be conveyed on a smooth surface which can cause product damage. In addition, there are a lot of components in a roller conveyor making it a complex assembly as well as a costly piece of equipment as many parts must be stocked for repairs.

An air conveyor moves product using air pressure. Air conveyors are commonly used with empty containers, such as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles and other sensitive, lightweight containers. The PET containers are typically suspended from neck guiderails, while air pressure pushes the products along. The “bodies” of the bottles are guided by guiderails, which are usually adjustable to accommodated different sizes. This type of conveyor is very limited to the type of product it can convey.

Flat top conveyor chains perform like belts, but with several advantages when handling most containers and packages. Flat top chains can be used to convey, transfer, accumulate, meter, elevate and lower items of various sizes and shapes.

Types of Rexnord Flat Top Style Chain:

There are two types of Rexnord flat top chains: TableTop and MatTop Chain. While the basic functions of TableTop and MatTop are the same, there are several differences between them. TableTop is similar to a door hinge with wings attached, while MatTop can be almost any width and is held together with a full width pin. TableTop chains are molded in standard widths from 3.25 to 12 inches and are typically shipped in ten-foot sections. MatTop chains (generically known as plastic modular chain) are usually assembled-to-width via “bricked” construction up to 20-feet wide. Some styles of MatTop chains are also available as “molded-to-width” (abbreviated as MTW) in standard widths similar to Tabletop chain widths. Some of those are also available with Positrack tabs for side-tracking, like TableTop chains. Both narrow TableTop Chains and MTW MatTop Chains are can be used for single-file conveyance.  Multiple lanes of wider TableTop Chain or single strands of wide MatTop Chain are used for mass flow.

TableTop Chain Types:

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TableTop Chains are available in two styles: straight running or sideflexing. There are also two different types of construction—one and two piece. The one- piece chain simply contains a unit link assembled together with a pin similar to a door hinge. The two piece construction was designed to combine the strength of a roller base chain with the flat surface of a TableTop link. The roller base chain provides extra strength and allows for longer conveyors in comparison to a one-piece TableTop chain. There are also multiple variations of TableTop chains designed for very specific, special applications. Polymeric chains are another variation of the one piece design. These chains are essentially the plastic counterparts to metal engineered chain which will be discussed in more detail within another module. Polymeric chains are available in both straight running and side-flexing styles. Polymeric is another term for plastic and the advantages of the material is that these chains are corrosion resistant and lightweight in comparison to the metal engineered chain. Multiflex chain is a unique chain design that is commonly referred to as “knuckle chain”.  Its construction consists of a special link, pivot and pin.  This unique design allows it to flex around tight corners and up or down inclines and declines. It is commonly used in alpine systems, some of which are used to accumulate products.

MatTop Chain Types:

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MatTop Chains are generally only available in plastic materials. MatTop chains are available in multiple surface styles. Common surface styles are solid top, perforated or open area, raised rib and textured top. Each surface style is specifically designed to meet different conveying needs. Solid top is used for general conveying when a flat surface is required. Perforated or open area chains have small or large openings depending on the percentage of air or water that is required to flow through the chain. These chains are perfect for applications that require a wash down, such as rinsing tomatoes. Raised rib chains are used in conjunction with “Finger Transfer” combs in which the fingers fit between the ribs of the chain, allowing for a smooth transfer, similar to the end of an escalator which allows a smooth transfer for people. Textured chains have nubs or raised patterns. These chains are commonly used in applications where you do not want a product to stick to the surface or in people moving applications to prevent people from slipping. Similar to TableTop chains, MatTop chains are also available in straight running or side-flexing designs.

For more information on Rexnord Conveying Solutions products and solutions, visit Rexnord.com or contact one of our technical specialists.

​Moving to Plastic Modular Chain Case Conveyors

To learn more about upgrading case conveyors from powered roller to plastic modular chain, download our tip sheet.

Learn More

Chuck McGrady

Chuck is a Customer Solutions Engineer for the Rexnord Conveying Solutions Group in North America.  Chuck is a graduate of Marquette University with a BSME. He has over 45 years of experience in the package handling industry, with 33 years of that at Rexnord.