Chains are one of the most versatile pieces of hardware supplies. They can be used in industrial applications, construction, and for everyday around-the-house purposes. If you are looking to purchase an industrial chain, you will probably notice that there are a lot of options on the market.
In addition to varying chain lengths, grades, and link diameters, there are three basic types of finishes for chains: stainless steel, galvanized, and bright.
If you are not familiar with industrial hardware supplies, you are probably curious as to what these finishes are, why they matter, and, of course, which one you should buy.
Each style of the chain has its benefits and drawbacks. Furthermore, the breaking strengths and durability ratings vary between the different types of metals – so choosing the wrong one could wind up creating major problems.
So, here are a few things that you must know about various types of chains before making a purchase for any project.
As the name implies, stainless steel is a type of steel, meaning that the alloy metal is primarily iron-based. Stainless steel also contains at least 10.5% Chromium, which is an element that creates a thin layer of oxide on the exterior. This gives stainless steel a shiny surface while also protecting it from corrosion and rust.
Stainless steel may also have carbon, silicon, manganese, or nickel mixed in for added strength and improved corrosion resistance. Stainless steel is also known for being:
- Easily cleaned
- Extremely temperature resistant
- Preferred for aesthetic reasons
- Environmentally friendly and reusable
Stainless steel chains are formed by melting together all of the raw materials in a furnace to form a molten alloy. This typically takes between 8 to 12 hours until all of the materials are completely melted. The steel is then formed into the desired link diameter and forged together to form a chain.
Some of the most popular stainless-steel chain models include:
Although the stainless steel chain is certainly the strongest style, there are some downsides. First, it is more expensive than other types of chains – because the forging process is more intensive and requires more raw materials. The material also shows dirt, smudges, and scratches quite easily.
The Galvanized chain is made of traditional steel which is then covered in zinc to prevent the metal from rusting or corroding. The galvanization process helps to extend the longevity of the chain and make it highly durable for applications that would typically corrode unprotected metal, such as on ships, near water, or in moist environments.
Galvanized chain is a popular choice for many industrial applications as it is known for:
- Long-lasting durability
- High strength
- General-purpose utility
- Corrosion resistance
There are several galvanization processes that are used to coat chains.
The first – and generally most common – is hot-dip galvanizing. This involves coating the metal chain in molten zinc so it bonds strongly to the metal for a thick, strong covering. This also creates a distinct pattern known as “spangle” as it appears to be semi-crystalized.
Electroplated galvanization is another common method where an electric current is used to positively charge zinc ions so it attaches to the metal. This creates an extremely thin, even layer.
Metal may also be galvanized with z zinc spray or with powdered zinc which is then heated until it bonds with the metal. However, these methods are more commonly used with smaller metal hardware pieces as opposed to chains.
Some of the most popular galvanized metal chains include:
Galvanized metal tends to be the least expensive type of chain, and it can be extremely long-lasting if it is taken care of properly. However, the zinc coating may eventually wear off or chip, particularly if the chain is exposed to lots of friction or movement.
Bright / Self-Colored
Bright chain (also commonly called self-colored) means that the metal material is not coated with any protective layer, leaving the metal exposed.
Since this uncoated steel chain cannot be exposed to water, moisture, or corrosive environments, it is commonly used for internal securement – which is protected from these types of elements. Bright chains may also be painted or finished with a lacquer.
Some of the most common bright/self-colored chains from Elite Sales include:
- Grade 30 Proof Coil Chain
- Grade 43 High Test Boomer/Binding Chains
- Grade 80 Alloy Chain
- Self-Colored Grade 43 Chain
Since bright chains do not have any finishes or coatings, it is less expensive than other types – particularly stainless steel. While this lack of protective coating does make the metal quite susceptible to corrosion and rusting, bright or self-colored chains are also stronger and more durable than galvanized steel.
Type of Projects
As each style of the chain has its own strengths and weaknesses, some are made for specific applications while others are a bit more versatile.
For example, stainless steel and galvanized chains are best for uses in environments that could be exposed to water or moisture, such as:
- Outdoor buildings
- Water storage areas
- Damp areas, such as basements
Bright/self-colored chains are far too prone to rusting and corrosion to be used near water, so they are generally best for applications like:
- Internal joinery
- Tie downs
When it comes to choosing an industrial hardware supplier for any type of chain, it is always best to consult an expert to help you find the exact materials you need for any project or application.
That’s why you can count on Elite Sales.
Our experienced, knowledgeable team members know everything there is to know about industrial hardware and they can help you find all of the products you need.
Get in touch today to place an order for stainless steel, galvanized, or bright chain today!