The Use of Non-Metal Materials in the Crane Industry

Posted on January 4, 2017 in Gantry Cranes

Composite, nylon, plastic, and synthetic are all common terms that are used in the gantry crane and rigging industries.  For nearly two decades now, nylon sheaves, plastic outrigger pads, and polyester round slings have been used by operators and riggers alike.  However, numerous manufacturers have pointed out that these terms are used interchangeably by many professionals.  To further complicate matters, the more recent introduction of composites and other high performance materials has added to the many misunderstandings regarding these different materials and products.

Application of Non-Metal Material

In the meantime, we are seeing new applications for these non-metal materials such as the use of composites in the production of spreader beams and the building of mobile cranes that are equipped with synthetic hoist lines.  While knowing the material science behind these different products may not be important to the one using them, it is crucial that they understand the inspection and usage guidelines of the manufacturer.  It is also imperative that they recognize any performance limitations or problems that may exist.

While most gantry crane and rigging companies attempt to keep current on the changes in technology, sometimes those changes occur quicker than what these different entities can adapt to.  In many cases, this is due to the fact that many companies tend to take a wait-and-see approach where the application of these products is concerned.  Utilizing these products has been, for the most part, limited but not exclusive to synthetic slings with a proven track record.

Other than this, some companies have considered the use of other synthetic products, (E.g. crane hoist ropes) but have been extremely reluctant to do so because of the lack of a proven history.  However, these same companies have taken the benefits of using non-metal materials into consideration.  For instance, improved capacity resulting from the lightweight construction of block and boom sheaves is a perfect example.  Other manufacturers have produced boom pendants that are made from carbon fiber.  These have yet to be widely accepted.

Gantry Crane Accessories

Then again, many companies believe that they have a fairly clear understanding of these non-metal materials and how they differ from others used in gantry crane and other rigging products although the consensus is not universal.  While carbon fiber is oftentimes used by some companies in the manufacture of rigging belts, it is too brittle or stiff for manufacturing sling applications.  Interestingly enough, some investigations have revealed that it was polyester and not carbon fiber that was being used.

While “plastic” and “synthetic” are terms that are oftentimes used when referring to gantry crane accessory applications.  However, the reality is that the non-metal material that is being used may indeed be fiberglass, high density plastic, high molecular weight polyethylene, nylon, or polyester.

When you are looking to invest in a gantry, you might be interested in looking over the additional accessories that might be needed.

Do you have an idea for a custom gantry? Call us 775-778-9112 to bring your idea to life.

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