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Biographie Wire rope is constructed of multiple strands of wire that are twisted and braided together to form a spiral design or helix. Once the separate wires are shaped into a solid form, they become a single wire with greater strength because the individual wires equalize pressure and have greater flexibility than the individual strands.

To further enhance the strength of wire ropes, they are grouped and wound together to produce cables, which adds to their usefulness as a means of support, ability to lift, and give structural stability.

A key factor in wire rope is the lay of the strands, which can be regular or lang. With regular lay, or right and ordinary lay, the strands are wound from left to right with the wires laid in the opposite direction of the lay of the strands. With lang lay, the wires are wound in the same direction.

The structure and design of wire rope produces a final product that has superior strength, excellent strength flexibility, and the ability to handle constant bending stress as well as being weather resistant.

Wire rope is one of those products that has found a place in a wide variety of industries since it can be adapted and shaped to fit several applications. It can be found as a tow cable for boats and airplanes or in the movie industry as a harness for stunt artists. The varied uses of wire rope have made it an essential part of operations that require a rope with strength, endurance, and flexibility.

Uses for Wire Rope

Aeronautics –

In the aerospace industry, wire ropes, or Bowden cables, connect pedals and levers in airplane cockpit to send power to aircraft systems to control the airplane. The things that are controlled by wire ropes are propeller pitch, cowl flaps, and throttle. Wire ropes on aircraft are insulated to avoid vibrations.

Wire rope is extensively used in the auto industry for a wide variety of applications due to its versatility and strength. It is used for raising windows and opening and closing sunroofs. Other uses include steering wheels, cables, exhausts, springs, sunroofs, doors, and seat components. In the manufacturing process, wire rope is used to hoist vehicles, move large body parts, and on hoists and cranes.

Construction –

The construction industry has a greatest reliance on wire rope because of the need to lift and lower heavy loads. Wire rope used in construction must have extremely high strength and exceptional performance for safety reasons and efficiency. Larger versions of wire rope are used for suspension bridges and supporting concrete columns.

Food Processing –

The main use of wire rope in food processing is for lifting, moving loads, and other heavy tasks. Finished products or raw materials require being moved in storage units and processing centers. The strength and endurance of wire rope makes it possible to move these materials. Wire rope for food processing must be able to withstand regular chemical cleaning.

Oil and Gas Industry –

As with other industries, the oil and gas industry needs strong and reliable equipment for moving heavy equipment. In ocean drilling, machinery is dropped into the ocean using wire rope to securely hold devices to be dropped to extreme depths. Wire ropes are designed to withstand the extreme pressure and stress required. A further use of wire ropes for drilling operations is to maintain stability in the drilling lines. One of the unique features of oil rig wire rope is its length, which can exceed 10,000 feet.

Marine Industry –

A very common use for wire rope is mooring and towing of sea and freshwater boats and vessels. In the shipbuilding industry, wire rope is used to secure lifeboats as well as lower them into the water. On sailboats, wire rope is used to lift and lower sails. The benefit of using wire rope is its resistance to corrosion and rust caused by salt water and ocean mist.

Skiing –

The skiing industry, much like heavy equipment industries, uses wire rope to hold cars, lifts, or chairs to transport skiers up the mountain. This type of wire rope comes in several varieties depending on the size of the mountain. The benefits of wire rope for skiing is its dependability, guaranteed safety, and reliability. The main challenge of wire rope for use in sports is the weather conditions it must endure.

Amusement Parks –

Since the beginnings of amusement parks, wire rope has been an essential part of attraction construction. It is used to bring roller coaster cars to the top of the ride, hold swings, and pull various vehicles through attractions. One of the main concerns of public amusement parks is safety since rides are filled with powerful machinery designed to operate continuously.

Stunt Work –

Making the dangerous and exciting shots in movies requires well planned safety precautions. One of the aspects of that planning is wire rope that is designed to protect performers when they are engaged in dangerous and life threatening shots. Dependable wire ropes are ideal since they have the flexibility, strength, endurance, and versatility to be adapted to any conditions.

The types of wire rope are determined by the number of wires in each strand and how many are in the rope, which is defined by a two number system with the first number being the number of wires and the second being the number of wires in each strand. For example, a 6x19 wire rope has 6 wires in 19 strands.

The wire below is a 7x7 stainless steel wire rope of grade 302 stainless steel. As can be seen in the diagram, it has seven wires and seven strands.

Types of Wire Rope Products

There are a wide variety of products that are produced using wire rope. The demand for wire rope products is due to its strength, durability, and reliability. Since the basic purpose of wire rope is to lift and move heavy materials and items, the most common type of wire rope product is the wire rope sling.

Wire Rope Slings –

Though the construction of soft eye wire rope sling is very similar for all types, there are certain variations applied to slings to adjust them to fit different applications. Slings are configured in various ways to fit different types of loads. These changes are referred to as hitches.

Hitches –

Vertical Hitch: A vertical hitch is where one eye of the wire rope is attached to the hook and the other eye is attached to the load.

Thimble hand spliced wire rope sling: To add to the strength of wire rope slings and lessen the stress on a small area of the eye, a thimble, a U shaped piece into which the wire rope fits, is placed in the eye, which helps the sling to retain its natural shape. The thimble is positioned to prevent the hook or load from coming in contact with the wire rope.

Coiled Wire Rope –

Coiled wire rope is made from bundles of small metal wires that are twisted into a coil. It comes in many varieties and is easy to store since it does not require a spool. Coiled wire rope is produced in coils. When it is not in use, it springs back into a coil, which makes it easy to handle.

Cable Wire Rope –

Cable wire rope is a type of high strength rope, made of several individual filaments. These filaments are twisted into strands and helically wrapped around a core. One of the most common types of wire rope cable is steel cable.

Push Pull Wire Rope –

Push pull wire rope assemblies are used to send force and are used in the aircraft, exercise, medical, automotive, and office equipment industries. Unlike using a single heavy wire, push pull assemblies made with wire rope are stiffer and have a larger bend radii for smoother motion of the wire.

Wire rope lanyards are a standard wire rope product that have a multitude of uses. They are produced using the same process that is used to produce wire rope with the same numbering categorizing system. Lanyards are used to hold fasteners, hardware, or components to prevent loss of an item or prevent injury.

As can be seen in the image below, lanyards come with a variety of connectors to specifically fit an application. Custom designed lanyards are designed for unusual and unique functions where a standard lanyard will not fit. The variety of connectors allows the lanyard to be easily connected.

Chapter Four – How Wire Rope Products are Made

In many ways, wire rope is a form of machine with multiple moving parts. Normally, when we think of a machine, we imagine a device with a motor, drives, and gears. Wire rope does not have any of those components but does fit the definition of being a complex mechanism. It has moving parts that work together to move heavy materials and loads.

The main function of wire rope is to do heavy lifting, which is very dependent on endless wire rope sling. The type of sling is determined by the quality of the wire rope used to form them and whether several ropes have been braided or wound together.

The Parts of Wire Rope

The parts of wire rope are wire, a core, strands, and lubricant.

Wire –

Wire is the smallest part of wire rope but makes up the various strands. The composition of the wire can be steel, iron, stainless steel, copper, or other types of metal wires and are produced in different grades. The individual wires can be coated or bright, meaning uncoated.

Strands –

Strands are sets of wires that are twisted together and are placed in a helical pattern around the core. The size of the wire determines its abrasive qualities with larger wires being more abrasive and less flexible than smaller ones.

Core –

The core is the center of the wire rope and serves as a support for the strands and helps the wire rope keep its position when it is under stress or bearing a load.

Lubrication –

Lubrication is applied during the manufacturing process to reduce friction between the wires and strands as well as protection from corrosion and rust. The tight winding of the wires enhances the ability of the wire rope to retain the lubrication which is essential to its longevity.

Manufacture of Wire Rope Slings

Of all of the products that are made from wire rope, slings are the most common and widely used. These looped wire ropes come in different varieties and grades depending on the type of wire used. Also, to enhance wire sling performance, several wire ropes may be wound together to form a sturdier and more reliable sling.

Unspooling –

For delivery for processing, wire rope is spooled. The production of grommet wire rope sling begins with unspooling the wire rope.

Installing the Compression Sleeve –

The tails and stray wires of the wire rope have to be straightened and properly formed before applying the compression sleeve. Once the sleeve has been placed, it is carefully checked to be sure that it is accurately engaged.

Swaging –

Prior to placing the wire rope sling in the swaging die, the die has to be thoroughly lubricated. Once the die is set, the wire rope’s compression sleeve and the wire rope are compressed using several hundred thousand pounds of force. The swaging process alters the dimensions of the wire rope and compression sleeve to form a tight connection for the correct diameter for the sling connection. As force is applied, the compression sleeve is turned so that pressure is evenly applied. 
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