Often used in highly corrosive environments, steel cable carriers provide a high strength-to-weight ratio and maximum unsupported spans. They usually feature a special coating to resist corrosion from chemicals and other abrasive materials.
Generally, lubrication isn’t required. Should it be required, certain applications have more abrasive environments where a dry lubrication is required, but in the majority of applications, lubrication of the steel chain is not required.
For applications that require real lubricity where you need very low friction on a steel track, you can use self-cleaning links.
In addition, the manufacturer can install wear discs — often made of nylon — ahead of time, in between the steel, to reduce friction. This offers some added lubrication, if this is required.
The obvious downside of lubrication is it’s going to pick up dirt and contaminants. If you lubricate with a W-40 or something like that, it’s going to pick up particulate or debris near it, which is not a good thing for the cable carrier or the cables housed inside of it.