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2 Key Types of Lifting Slings

Lifting Sling

Construction jobs often involve installing, removing, or replacing building components that are too heavy for workers to move by hand. To move things like plumbing pipes, metal beams, and prefabricated sections of concrete, contractors often use a lifting device or crane equipped with a sling.

A variety of different types of lifting slings exist, each with its own set of advantages and applications. For the best — and safest — lifting results, you must choose your sling wisely. If you would like to learn more about what distinguishes one type of lifting sling from another, keep reading. This article takes a closer look at two of the most commonly used varieties.

1. Wire Rope Slings

Wire rope remains one of the most popular choices for lifting slings, thanks to its unique combination of strength and flexibility. Wire rope slings have a remarkable ability to withstand bending stresses that would damage other types of sling materials. Wire rope also has a high level of durability, which allows it to repeatedly undertake the most heavy-duty applications.

Wire rope slings have additional benefits in terms of their light weight and relatively low cost. In addition, wire rope slings come in a variety of designs, differing in terms of the number of strands used in creating the wire, as well as the particular braiding pattern. As a result, wire rope slings can meet a wide array of different applications.

Of course, wire rope has its drawbacks as well. For one thing, the physical construction of wire rope makes it harder to inspect for signs of damage — especially if that damage occurs near the core of the rope. In that case, the problem may not be detectable on the rope's exterior.  

Wire rope can also fall prey to a wide range of issues that reduce its flexibility and lifting power. Such problems include kinking, doglegs, birdcaging, corrosion, and damaged fittings. Contractors must have a thorough understanding of each of these issues. Moreover, wire rope requires regular inspections to ensure it remains in good working condition.

2. Chain Slings

When it comes to maximizing strength and durability, few lifting sling materials perform as well as chain slings. These slings consist of alloy steel chains equipped with metal hooks. Chain slings come in a variety of different grades, each of which corresponds to a different lifting power. Chain slings have an unparalleled ability to resist damage from impacts, cuts, or crushing blows.

Likewise, chain slings have a greater resistance to chemicals. Wire rope slings, by contrast, can suffer damage when exposed to certain chemicals. Oil or dirt do not pose an adverse problem for chain slings. Unlike wire rope slings, contractors can also easily adjust the length of a chain slings, which allows contractors to make changes as necessary in the field.

Both chain slings and wire rope slings remain functional in a wide range of temperatures — anything between -40 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. But above 400 degrees, wire rope slings cannot be used at all. Chain slings, by contrast, remain functional all the way up to a whopping 1000 degrees.

That said, contractors must understand that chain slings do experience reduced working load limits at temperatures above 400 degrees Fahrenheit. To compensate for this reduction, high-temperature tasks may require a thicker chain gauge.

Chain slings have two key disadvantages. The first involves their weight. In all cases, a chain sling weighs far more than the wire rope sling with an equivalent lifting power. At certain gauges, chain slings can become prohibitively heavy.

The second disadvantage of chain slings involves their cost, which in all cases exceeds that of wire rope slings. Yet the longer functional lifespan of a chain sling helps to offset the greater initial investment.

For assistance determining the best lifting sling for your next construction project, please contact the experts at West Equipment Co. Inc.