July 6, 2020
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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.

Stainless Steel

Stainless Steel Chain

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:

  • Long-lasting
  • 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.

Galvanized Chain

Grade 30 Proof Coil Chain

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 Self Colored Chain

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: 

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
  • Boats
  • Docks
  • 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
  • Logging
  • Towing
  • Tie downs
Conclusion

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!


May 15, 2020
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One of the first things to consider when purchasing cable for industrial projects or construction is the material it is made of. The cable is generally made of steel, as this type of metal is strong and very durable. The cable is sold in two types: galvanized and stainless steel.

When you are looking to buy cable, you will see that cable sizes are available in both finishes, as the sizing refers to the number of strands and wires.

For instance, a 7X19 galvanized cable is made of seven strands which are composed of 19 wires woven together and galvanized. A 7X19 stainless steel cable is also made of the same number of strands and wires – but they are made of different materials. 

Each type of metal finishing has its own strengths and weaknesses and the type that you use is quite dependent on the application. Choosing the wrong type for a project could be disastrous – not to mention dangerous – as the incorrect type could wear down too quickly or not be strong enough for its intended use.

So, first and foremost, it is critical to understand the main differences between galvanized and stainless steel.

Let’s dive in. 

What is Galvanized Cable?

Galvanized steel cable is made of traditional steel which is coated in a thin layer of zinc. This coating helps to protect the steel from corrosion, as untreated steel has an iron will rust if it is exposed to water or moisture. 

There are four different ways that steel may be galvanized. 

The first (and typically most common with industrial hardware) is hot-dip galvanizing. The metal pieces are dipped into a flux solution of zinc ammonium chloride which creates an even protective coating.

Steel cables may also be electro galvanized, which creates a very thin layer over the metal via an electric current. The zinc solution conducts this electricity, which positively charges the ions and attaches to the steel. This creates an extremely thin layer that has been mechanically-bonded.

Another method of galvanization is sherardizing, which is when the zinc layer is applied with heat. The metal is covered in powdered zinc rather than a liquid solution and placed into an airtight container that is heated to extreme temperature and then cooled. This also creates a thin layer, but it is more commonly used on smaller metal objects. 

The last method of galvanization is metallic spraying. A zinc solution is sprayed over the metal object and then heated so that the coating sticks to the surface. This method is less protective than others, but it is also less likely to peel or flake off over time. 

In addition to cables, common objects made with galvanized steel include:

  • Wire Ropes
  • Chains
  • Hardware pieces
What is Stainless Steel Cable?

Stainless steel cable is made of an iron alloy containing at least 10.5% chromium and may also be mixed with nickel, silicon, manganese, nitrogen, or carbon. This chromium is naturally corrosion-resistant, so stainless steel does not require an additional galvanized coating for protection.

Stainless steel is produced by melting together all of the raw materials for 8 to 12 hours until it is completely molten. The excess carbon is then removed by pouring the molten metal into an Argon Oxygen Decarburization (AOD) converter. Additional elements may also be added in the converter.

Molten stainless steel is then tuned, which helps to improve the consistency by stirring the metal and maintaining an even temperature until it is ready to be formed. 

Stainless steel is quite a bit harder and stronger than other types of iron and steel. 

It may be cast in several different ways:

  • Forming – pouring molten metals into preformed shapes or molds.
  • Hot rolling – heated steel is passed through rolls to form wires, bars, plates, strips, or sheets.
  • Cold rolling – used for precise shapes or the production of wide sheets.
  • Annealing – this involves heating and cooling the metal repeatedly to soften the steel to improve ductility.
  • Cutting – stainless steel may also be cut after being formed into sheets by using sharp knives, saws, high-speed blades, flame cutters, or ionized gas.

There are two different grades of stainless steel: 304 and 316. 

Grade 304 is far more common, largely due to its shiny finishing. It is made with a higher percentage of chromium, typically between 18 to 20%, which is exceptionally corrosion-resistant. It is commonly used in:

  • Appliances
  • Fasteners
  • Piping

Grade 316 is made with a high amount of chromium, as well as nickel, silicon, manganese, and carbon with a significant amount of molybdenum. This element has an extremely high melting point and it is added to the alloy to make the metal even stronger. 

Grade 316 stainless steel is commonly used for:

  • Chemical storage
  • Refinery equipment
  • Marine environments
  • Medical devices
What are the Major Differences?

In addition to the chemical composition and finishing processes, there are some important differences to note between galvanized steel and stainless steel.

First, is the price. The galvanized cable is typically less expensive than stainless steel because the process is much quicker and involves fewer steps. Stainless steel is also more expensive because of the added elements, which increases the cost. 

Another difference is strength. Stainless steel is significantly stronger than galvanized steel, which has a lower breaking point. The exterior layer of zinc may wear off over time if the cable is exposed to a lot of friction, which weakens the steel beneath.

The next major difference is to wear resistance. Although stainless steel is exceptionally strong, the mixture of nickel actually softens the metal and will present signs of wear and tear sooner than galvanized cable would. The shiny exterior also shows scratches and dents more than galvanized metal does. 

The appearance of both metals is also different. Galvanized steel is not as shiny as stainless steel and appears to be a bit duller and streakier. While the appearance of cable is typically not incredibly important, it may matter in some applications. 

And finally, the most significant difference between galvanized steel cable and stainless steel cable is the way they are both used.

When is it Best to Use Galvanized?

Galvanized Cable

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Since galvanized metal is not as strong as stainless steel, it is commonly used for lighter-duty applications that do not require extremely heavyweights. It is also far more cost-effective, so it is typically used when budgets are tight.

Finally, galvanized cable is best in environments that are corrosive, such as on boats in saltwater or near chemical compounds. And although the zinc coating will eventually wear, it does provide an additional layer on cables that are used with pulleys to reduce friction. 

Galvanized cables are typically used in:

  • Construction
  • Hanging cables or wires
  • Pulley and winches
  • Stage rigging
  • Motorized doors (such as garage doors)
  • Exercise equipment
When is it Best to Use Stainless Steel?

Stainless Steel Cable

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Since stainless steel cable is extremely strong, it is largely used in more heavy-duty applications to secure heavier weights. It is also best in more moist environments as it is extremely rust-resistant. 

Stainless steel also tends to last longer than galvanized steel in certain environments. Therefore, the higher cost ends up evening out as it does not need to be replaced as quickly.

Stainless steel cables are commonly used in:

  • Aircraft
  • Rigging and overhead lifting
  • Load and cargo securement
  • Fall protection barriers
  • Guy-wires for added stability to structures like ship masts, wind turbines, and large tents
  • Ziplines
  • Boat docks
  • Overhead doors
Conclusion

The most important thing to keep in mind when you need to buy stainless steel cable or galvanized cable is to choose a manufacturer that offers high-quality products. Quality is key, and it can ensure that your application is far safer and lasts longer. 

You can trust Elite Sales to be your provider for any and all industrial hardware equipment. We offer a wide variety of cables, as well as wire ropes, chains, and other products in numerous sizes and finishes.

Reach out to our sales team today to learn more about the items we offer and to place an order.