In Search of the Right Sling for the Job

Many commercial applications require slings as part of the lifting gear. However, there are many different types and sizes in which to choose. For example, should you go with a chain, wire rope, or synthetic sling? Let’s look at these options to help you choose the right kind of sling.

Wire Rope

These slings are extremely strong and considerably lighter than chains. Plus, you can buy this kind of sling in very long lengths. They are made by stranding wire to make one sturdy and flexible rope. In fact, some wire ropes may have 150 wire strands. This ensures you have a secure holding device. Should one strand break, the others are still intact.

Wire rope slings have flexibility but only to an extent. If bent too far in one direction they can distort and this can create problems. Also, if for some reason this kind of sling were to break, it could create a dangerous whipping motion which could cause injury.


If you want something with the greatest durability, chain is the best option over a wire rope or synthetic sling. Chains have amazing flexibility and there is no chance for distortion like you may experience with wire rope. You can choose from a number of chain configurations.

You will pay more on average for chain slings. Plus, they are the heaviest option. This is an important consideration if you need to transport or carry your slings over a long distance.


You can buy synthetic type slings made from nylon or polyester material. They are perfect if you are lifting or loading materials which could scratch or mar easily. They are soft, flexible and today’s modern synthetic materials are amazingly strong and resilient.

Synthetic is relatively cheap to produce and you can buy these slings for much less than chain or wire rope. This is important if you are trying to keep operating costs to a minimum but still need reliable lifting gear. With some kinds of chains or wire ropes you may eventually have to worry about rust or corrosion. This is not the case with synthetic.

No material is perfect and there are a few downsides to synthetic. For example, synthetic material can be cut or sliced more easily than metal, and it can be subject to abrasion over time. However, if your synthetic sling were to suddenly break, there is no “snapping action” like with wire rope, so the chances for injury are low.

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