Industrial wire rope is used for a multitude of applications. Smaller wire ropes are found on exercise equipment and wire fencing, while ticker rope styles are used for aerospace and aircraft construction and suspension bridge reinforcement. Further, wire ropes are utilized by countless industries, including the military, construction, warehousing, automotive, and engineering.

Singe the application and requirements for wire rope is so varied, industrial wire rope suppliers offer numerous specifications. Narrowing down through these options can be tricky if you are unsure of the exact requirements your application needs. These options can impact the use, durability, and strength of the wire ropes, and some types are specifically designed for unique functions.

Here are 6 of the key wire rope specifications that must be considered before purchasing:

  • Material

One of the first wire rope specifications to narrow down is the material of the rope itself. While wire rope is generally made from steel, but it may also be made from iron, bronze, copper, and even titanium. Further, there are different types of steel grades and finishes available.


Most steel wire ropes are made from plow steel, which contains .5 to .95 percent carbon. Most wire ropes are available as either IPS (improved plow steel) or EIPS (extra improved plow steel). These improvements are based on the amount of carbon added in. So IPS are 10% stronger than traditional plow steel and EIPS is 10% stronger than IPS.

Steel Grades

A steel grade measures the material’s strength and pliability. The higher the grade, the most weight the wire rope can sustain. Each level of grade is about 10% stronger than the next.

The lowest grades for wire rope are mold plow and plow steel. These are often used for hauling and logging, but are not approved for overhead lifting applications. Industrial wire ropes are most commonly made from improved plow steel (IPS) or extra improved plow steel (EIPS).

Stainless steel wire ropes have an additional grading system that uses numbers to measure the amount of chromium added. 302-grade is an extremely tough type of stainless steel that is highly heat-resistant due to its high carbon content. 304 is highly versatile and corrosion resistant as it has chromium and nickel added. Grade 316 is considered the most commonly used type for wire ropes as it has a bit more flexibility with lower carbon content.

  • Construction

The next wire rope specification is the construction of the rope, meaning the number of strands woven together to form the rope. The general rule of thumb here is that the fewer strands in a rope, the stiffer it will be. So, when flexibility is necessary, you should opt for a wire rope with a higher strand count.

The number of strands and wires are written out as strand X wire count. A strand is made up of individual wires wrapped together, then each of the strands is woven together to form the rope. So, a 6 X 19 wire rope is made of 6 strands of 19 wires each.

Industrial wire ropes come in a large variety of strand counts, but the most common configurations are:

  • 6 X 15
  • 6 X 19
  • 6 X 25
  • 6 X 26
  • 6 X 27
  • 6 X 36
  • 6 X 37
  • Patterns and Lay

Industrial wire ropes can be made of different patterns and arrangements. This impacts the wire rope’s performance and flexibility, so different patterns may be better suited for certain applications.

There are five main categories of strand patterns:

  • Single Layer – This is made of strands that are all the same diameter wrapped around a central core.
  • Filler Wire – The interior layer is made of uniform strands, then half the number of strands are added in a smaller diameter. The outer layer contains the same amount and size of strands as the inner layer.
  • Seale – A larger internal code strand is surrounded by two layers of an equal number of strands. One is a smaller diameter while the outermost layer is the same size as the inner core.
  • Warrington – This rope is made from two alternating diameters which are woven together so the smaller strands fill in the “valleys” between the larger strands.
  • Combination – If two or more of these patterns are used together, it is called a combination or combined wire rope.
  • Preformed vs Non-preformed

The performance of a wire rope is the description of the lay or the direction the strands are wrapped in. This subtle difference can actually influence many factors, like the rope’s flexibility and fatigue resistance.

There are 3 types of lays for industrial wire ropes:

  • Regular Lay – The wires of the rope align with the axis, so the direction of the strands is opposite to the strand lay. This reinforces the wire rope to protect it from crushing and makes it more resistant to rotation.
  • Lang Lay – This is the opposite of the Regular Lay, so the wires and strands are going the same direction as the core. This increases the fatigue resistance of the rope and is best for abrasive applications.
  • Alternate Lay – When both Regular and Lang lays are used, it is known as an Alternate Lay. This is only used for specific applications and is not very common.
  • Finishes

Next, you will need to narrow down the finishes for the wire ropes. A bright wire rope has no coating, so the steel is completely exposed. This is only recommended for applications where the rope will not be exposed to moisture or water, as the steel is not rust-proof.

Galvanized steel is coated in a thin layer of molten zinc. This provides a protective barrier for added durability and corrosion resistance. The zinc coating gives the rope a more matte appearance.

Stainless steel is naturally corrosion resistant and has a naturally shiny finish. Stainless steel is also the strongest and most durable, but also the most expensive.

  • Lubrication

Although wire ropes are incredibly durable, the steel will wear out faster if it is exposed to harsh elements. Constant friction and changing temperatures and humidity in the air can weaken the metal and lead to wires breaking or corroding.

Wire ropes may be lubricated to reduce friction and protect the rope from corrosion. This is optional, but it can be beneficial for certain uses. Wire rope lubricants can be made from minerals or oils and may be either thin and runny or thick and tacky.

Looking for an Industrial Wire Rope Distributor?

If you’re in need of high-quality wire rope and don’t know where to start, your first step is to connect with a reliable supplier. Elite Sales specializes in industrial hardware and carries a wide variety of industrial wire ropes. Our experienced team also knows just about everything regarding wire rope specifications – we can help you narrow down your selection. Contact us today to learn more.