What are Alloy Chain Slings? Types, Grades, And How to Order Them

What are Alloy Chain Slings? Types, Grades, And How to Order Them

A popular choice for overhead lifting applications, alloy chain slings are some of the toughest and most durable lifting slings in the material handling industry. They are often used due to their strength, abrasion resistance, and ability to conform to the shape of the loads. 

Additionally, alloy chain slings are a perfect fit for more intense or extreme environments, such as in the power, manufacturing, and petroleum industries, among others.

Are you interested in learning more about alloy chain slings? We’ll walk you through the basics in this post.

Let’s dive in!

A. Types of Alloy Steel Chains

As you can imagine, alloy chain slings come in multiple shapes and sizes. Let’s take a look at a few of them. 

1. Single-Leg Chain Sling

Single-leg chain slings usually have one chain length supporting the lifted load with a hook or collector ring on the upper end. They offer excellent stability and balance when used together with other rigging equipment. They can also accommodate different load sizes and are easy to operate.

2. Double-Leg Chain Sling

As the name implies, double-leg chain slings have two separate legs held together by a collector ring. They are suitable for lifting loads that need support on two corners, such as concrete slabs, skip bins, and heavy pipes.

3. Multi-Leg Chain Sling

If you’re handling loads heavier than 180,000 pounds, you may need to pick properly configured multi-leg chain slings. These slings consist of three or more chains that allow you to use multiple pickup points on your load. This, in turn, helps maintain balance and control. 

A word of advice here. When using a chain sling with more than one leg, ensure the load is distributed evenly. Also, inspect all fittings and connecting devices that accompany the sling.

B. Different Grades of Alloy Chain Slings

You may have heard the terms ‘Grade 80 chain sling’ or ‘carbon chain’ thrown around without any real context. But what exactly does it mean?

The ‘grade’ of a chain represents its strength or mean stress value. Chain grades of higher grades:

  • Are harder and more resistant to abrasion
  • Have an increased strength-to-weight ratio
  • Have an increased Work Load Limit (WLL)

The three grades of alloy chain slings suitable for lifting and rigging projects are:

1. Grade 80

The Grade 80 standard for chain slings is a staple in overhead lifting, especially in industries that involve towing and recovery. It is also commonly used to secure heavy-duty loads in the flatbed trucking industry.

Most Grade 80 lifting slings are coated with a black armor protective finish to enhance their durability and service life. Moreover, the alloy mixture makes the chain lighter without compromising its durability.

2. Grade 100

Like the Grade 80 chain, Grade 100 is engineered for exceptional strength. The heat-treated alloy steel used in Grade 100 is approximately 25% stronger than Grade 80, making it a better fit for hoisting and overhead lifting projects. Grade 100 chains also have a slightly harder surface material, which allows for better abrasion resistance.

3. Grade 120

Although rarely used, Grade 120 chain slings are the undisputed champion of overhead lifting slings, characterized by their square links (as opposed to the regular rounded links used in other chains). You can also identify Grade 120 chains by their blue, green, or bright-colored finish.

Depending on the manufacturer, Grade 120 chains have the highest strength-to-weight ratio among all three chain grades. This is because the square links used to construct Grade 120 chains create a larger cross-sectional area per chain link.

C. How to Order the Right Type of Alloy Chain Slings for Your Lifting Job

Safety is critical to any overhead lifting project. According to the CDC, struck-by accidents are the leading cause of nonfatal injuries and the second-most common cause of death among construction workers. 

Using the right type of alloy chain sling can help minimize the risk of falling loads, thereby keeping workers out of harm’s way. But given the wide range of options available, you might find it hard to pick a suitable alloy chain sling for the job. 

That’s why we have compiled a list of factors you must know to order the correct sling for your lifting application.

1. Working Load Limit (WLL)

An alloy chain sling’s working load limit is its maximum working load as specified by its manufacturer. Simply put, it’s the highest weight the chain sling can handle under normal conditions. 

Every time you evaluate different types of alloy chain slings for your lifting operation, consider the weight and strength of the load. Heavier loads will generally require chain slings with higher WLLs, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s recommendations before use.

2. Temperature Limits

Many chain slings can be heated to nearly 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, making them fit for use in steel factories, heavy machinery workshops, and other environments with harsher temperature conditions. However, anything beyond this limit could lead to catastrophic consequences.

If you plan to use chain slings in extreme environmental conditions, check the temperature standards well in advance. The sling should be able to withstand high heat without stretching or melting.

3. Sling Ratings

Most chain slings come with industrial ratings indicating the specific conditions of their use (temperature, load, and how the slings will be attached to the loads). Check whether the chain sling’s ratings meet your needs. Otherwise, you could be looking at a potential disaster.

4. The Load’s Center of Gravity

The load’s center of gravity also plays a crucial role in determining which alloy chain you should use. Unless the master link or hook is directly over the center, the load will be off-balance. You may have to adjust the load repeatedly to find its center of gravity, so make sure the chain sling doesn’t stretch or wear out early on.

The Bottom Line

Alloy chain slings are a must-have lifting equipment for several industries. Hopefully, this post has given you more insight into their types and grades. With this knowledge and the criteria mentioned above, you should have no trouble ordering the right lifting slings for your next project.

Or, consider talking to the experts and Holloway Houston Inc. We supply high-quality lifting and rigging equipment to clients across multiple industries. Call us today to learn more about our products and browse our inventory.