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This condition results from “plastic deformation” where the link plate material has been loaded beyond its yield point or elastic limit, but not beyond the tensile strength of the material section. It the pitch elongation is severe the chain will no longer engage correctly with the sprockets. In cases of severe overload other consequential damage will occur including crushed rollers, cracked bushings or bent pins which in themselves can lead to premature failure.
Chain elongation from overload can occur when the equipment is forced to operate beyond its design capabilities, when jam ups occur or similar operational eventualities.