Industry news — Advantages and DisadvantageS of Synthetic Slings

Advantages and DisadvantageS of Synthetic Slings

A synthetic web sling is one of the most common pieces of rigging equipment found on site due to their versatility. They are strong enough to support heavy loads but also used to lift delicate materials as their soft surface offers more protection than abrasive materials, like wire rope. Synthetic slings can be made from polyester, nylon, or high-performance materials and are lightweight, easy to rig, and extremely flexible.

Synthetic slings are popular in construction and other general industries because they’re fairly inexpensive, come in a variety of standard sizes, and can be replaced easily.

ADVANTAGES OF SYNTHETIC SLINGS

  • Synthetic Slings are flexible.

    They can mold to the shape of delicate and irregularly-shaped loads. The soft materials they’re made from are strong enough to lift heavy loads, but will protect expensive and delicate loads from scratches and crushing. 

  • Synthetic slings are also versatile

    They are often used in vertical, choker, and basket hitches and have a Design Factor of 5:1, meaning the breaking strength of the sling is five times higher than the rated Working Load Limit (W.L.L). Never exceed the rated Working Load Limit. 

  • Inexpensive and lightweight design makes them attractive to almost any industry or lifting application

  • Soft material is strong and protective.

    Synthetic Slings are strong enough to lift heavy loads but will protect expensive and delicate loads from scratching and crushing

  • Diverse range of application

    A variety of materials, construction, and specifications can tailor synthetic slings to almost any lifting application

  • Constructed from non-sparking and non-conductive fibers

    Which allows for use in explosive atmospheres

DISADVANTAGES OF SYNTHETIC SLINGS

  • Synthetic slings are more susceptible to damage from environmental factors.

    Like extreme temperatures, prolonged UV exposure, and chemically active environments. 

  • Not as durable as steel wire rope slings or alloy chain slings when it comes to abrasion and cut resistance.

    However, special high-heat resistant slings are available from certain manufacturers.

  • Low heat-resistance means they are not suitable for use in high-heat applications.

    However, special high-heat resistant slings are available from certain manufacturers.

  • Special considerations must be made when selecting a synthetic sling to be used in chemical applications.

     Nylon and polyester slings have different resistance characteristics to acidic and alkaline environments

  • Corner protectors or edge guards should be used to protect against cuts and tears.

Note: If there’s any evidence of damage, the sling should be removed from service and properly disposed of to discourage further use. If you’re unsure whether a sling is safe for use, remove it from service and give us a call on 1300 SLINGS.

Synthetic Flat Slings

Also known as webslings, these are flat belt straps made of webbing material and most commonly feature fittings, or flat or twisted eyes, on each end. Flatslings are the most versatile and widely-used multi-purpose sling. They’re strong, easy to rig, and inexpensive. Compared to chain, they’re more flexible and lighter and can be used to help reduce scratching and denting to loads. They can also be fabricated with wide load-bearing surfaces up to 48” to provide significant surface contact for heavy and large loads.

If used outdoors, they should be stored away in a cool, dark, and dry environment to avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight and UV rays, which can damage and weaken the strength of the sling. When a lift is made at the W.L.L., the user can expect approximately 8-10% stretch when using a nylon web sling and 3% stretch when using a polyester web sling at rated capacity.

Inspections

Regardless of the type of synthetic sling, it is a requirement under Australian Standard that synthetic slings are inspected every three months by a competent person – someone sufficiently trained and experienced to detect and evaluate any defects or weaknesses that may affect its performance.

It is important to identify a potential issue on synthetic round and flat slings before the sling is connected to any rigging hardware. A small cut, burn, tear, or hole in the sling can compromise the strength and lifting capabilities when under load and therefore the sling must be removed from service immediately. 

CLICK HERE FOR more information on what to look for. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I use paint or dye to color code synthetic slings?
No. Avoid using paint to color code webbing slings—the solvents in the paint could corrode the synthetic material. A torn or broken sling is unsafe, and will drastically reduce its SWL. To identify a synthetic sling’s material, look for the label color:

  • Polyester (PES)—Blue Label, or blue with a green line down the center of the webbing.
  • Polyamide (PA)—Green label
  • Polypropylene (PP)—Brown label

Q: What markings should I look for on a synthetic sling?
Look for the safe working load (SWL), identification number, and the label’s color code. Need more technical information on working load limits? You may need to refer to the relevant Australian Standard.

Q: How should I store my synthetic sling?
Store your slings in a dry, cool place. Keep them out of sunlight or other ultraviolet radiation, and don’t store them in damp conditions.

Q: Can I tie a knot in a synthetic sling to make it shorter?
No! Never knot, tie, or twist a webbing sling. Don’t manipulate the sling’s angle, either—use the sling however the angle forms naturally.

Q: What should I keep in mind when using a synthetic sling?
There are a few things to consider to use a synthetic sling safely—you should always: avoid shock-loading; protect the sling with sleeves when sharp edges could tear its fabric—friction can cause heat damage, which is the most common form of ‘heat’ damage to webbing slings. To prevent, don’t let the sling run along the load’s surface and that it’s not pulled on any sharp corners. This is also known as ‘point loading’, when the load is pulled on a sharp corner, creating heat which results in heat fusion in the sling material.

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