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Rigging Talk: A Guide to Synthetic Slings

Rigging Talk - A Guide to Synthetic Slings

A Guide to Synthetic Slings

Synthetic slings are made from soft materials, but are strong enough to lift heavy loads and protect expensive and sensitive loads from scratches and crushing.

Synthetic slings may well be the answer if you are looking for a less cumbersome lifting sling, which is lighter and easier for your employees to maneuver when rigging a lot? With Synthetic slings there is less chance of marring, scratching, or crushing delicate loads.

A synthetic sling may be the best choice for your overhead lift and can provide the flexibility, strength, and support you need when moving material through your facility or across your job site. However, you’ll have to give special considerations to the operating environment, stretch under load, and the possibility of the load causing cuts or abrasion to the sling.

At Hercules, we custom make and distribute all types of lifting slings, as well as rigging hardware, below-the-hook devices, and other lifting products.

What is a Synthetic Lifting Sling?

If you’re lifting highly easily damaged or delicate materials, then a synthetic lifting sling can provide the flexibility, strength, and support you need to support such a specialized load. 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.

Yellow nylon soft lifting sling

So what are the advantages of using Synthetic Slings?

Popular in a variety of industries and lifting applications, they are inexpensive, lightweight and extremely flexible. They are able to mold to the shape of delicate and irregularly-shaped loads, or be used in a choker hitch to securely grip loads of round bar stock or tubes.

Synthetic slings are extremely versatile, can be 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. Never exceed the rated Working Load Limit.

Made of non-sparking and non-conductive fibers, synthetic slings can be used in even the most unforgiving of atmospheres.

For every positive there is a negative. What are the disadvantages of using Synthetic Slings?

Careful consideration should always be given to the application when determining whether or not to use a synthetic lifting sling. They are more prone to damage from environmental factors like extreme temperatures, prolonged UV exposure, and chemically active environments. They’re also not as durable as steel wire rope slings or alloy chain slings when it comes to abrasion and tears.

Synthetic slings have a relatively low heat-resistance and are not recommended for use in high-heat applications. However, special high-heat resistant slings are available from certain manufacturers.

Nylon and polyester slings have different resistance characteristics to acidic and alkaline environments so special consideration must be made when selecting a synthetic sling to be used in chemical applications. Corner protectors or edge guards should be used to protect against cuts and tears.

If there’s any evidence of heat damage, UV damage, rips, tears, punctures, abrasion, or worn or broken stitching, the sling should be removed from service and properly disposed of to discourage further use.

Polyester vs. Nylon Lifting Slings

When choosing a material for synthetic sling use, we recommend considering a material’s resistance to specific chemicals, temperature resistance, and stretch. Below we’ll provide some of the considerations and characteristics of a polyester slings vs. a nylon sling to help you make more of an informed decision.

Rigging Talk - A Guide to Synthetic Slings

Synthetic Polyester Slings

  • Approximately 3% stretch at rated capacity – less bounce allows for more load control during a lift
  • Polyester is a softer material and less abrasive to sensitive or delicate finishes on loads
  • Lower liquid absorption compared to nylon and is non-conductive
  • Resistant to acidic environments and interactions with bleaching agents
  • Great for low headroom elevates
  • More popular in European countries but becoming more popular in the U. T. as the expense of nylon materials continues to rise
  • Not advised for alkaline environments including aldehydes, ethers, and strong alkalis
  • Can’t be used in environments in extra of 194°F or below -40°F

Synthetic Nylon Slings

  • 8-10% stretch at graded capacity – can help reduce shock loading but must be accounted for in low headroom elevates
  • Unaffected by grease and essential oil
  • More popular in the United States and most popular material for general purpose synthetic web slings
  • Resistant to aldehydes, ethers, and strong alkalis
  • Not recommended for acidic environments or for use with bleaching providers
  • Keeps moisture which can also add to or cause stretch under load—however moisture will not influence capacity

Will conduct electricity because they can soak up moisture/water—NEVER gamble your life on this! Can’t be used in environments in extra of 194°F or below -40°F

Synthetic Web Slings

Web slings are toned belt straps made from component material and most commonly feature fittings, or toned or twisted eyes, on each end. Web slings are the most flexible and widely-used multi-purpose sling. They’re strong, easy to rig, and inexpensive. In comparison to chain, they’re more flexible and lighter and can be used to lessen scratching and dents to loads. They can be fabricated with wide load-bearing surfaces up to 48” to provide considerable surface contact for heavy and large loads.

Nylon web sling performance isn’t influenced by oil and oil, and they’re resistant to alkaline-based chemicals. However, they should never be taken in acidic atmospheres or close to chemicals used as whitening agents. Polyester web slings can be used in acidic environments or close to chemicals used as whitening agents, but should never be taken in alkaline conditions.

They likewise have a relatively low heat-resistance and are not to be used in environments that exceed 194°F, or environments where temperature ranges are below -40°F. Regarding loads with sharp sides, corner protectors or advantage guards should be used to protect the sling from cuts and holes. Because there is a difference between abrasion proof protection and cut proof protection, make certain to identify the sort of resistance necessary for your application.

If used outside, they should be stored away in a cool, dark, and dry atmosphere to avoid prolonged direct exposure to sunlight and Ultra violet rays, which can damage and weaken the strength of the sling. Every time a raise is made at the W. L. L., the consumer can expect approximately 8-10% stretch when by using a nylon web sling and 3% stretch when by using a polyester web sling at graded capacity.

Polyester Round Slings

Rigging Talk - A Guide to Synthetic Slings

Artificial round slings can include both a single path and multi-path design. The multi-path design can contain top of the line fibers which leads to a lighter, more ergonomic, and tougher sling.

Endless round slings have load-bearing fiber or core yarns that are protected by a individual or double woven external jacket. They are strong, soft and flexible, and protect smooth or refined surfaces from scratches, dings, and crushing.

Round slings can be taken in vertical, container, or choker hitches—which are especially helpful for lifting pipes and pipes. When used in a choker problem, round slings release the choke much easier than a web sling would.

Whilst the woven outer coat has no load-bearing capacity, it is designed to protect the internal load-bearing fibers and core yarns against abrasion, dirt and grease, and UV wreckage. Polyester round slings are well suited for acidic environments, or close to chemicals used as whitening agents, but should not be used in alkaline environments.

Like web slings, round slings are more prone to heat damage and should not be used in environments that exceed 194°F or below -40°F. For loads with sharp edges, corner protectors or edge guards should be used to protect the sling from cuts and tears.

If used outdoors, they should be stored 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 3-5% stretch when using a round sling.

Hercules SLR has slings to suit every job. Slingmaster is Hercules SLR’s own brand of sling. Just click here to explore our sling section on our website.


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The Hercules Group of Companies encompasses a wide portfolio of products and services across 7 diverse companies:

Hercules SLR

All your rigging solutions under one roof – Products, Service, Repairs, Testing, Certification Training.

Atlantic Crane

Atlantic Canada’s Leading Crane Manufacturer and Solution Provider.

Spartan Industrial Marine

Industrial, Commercial and Recreational Marine Products, Services and Solutions.

Stellar Industrial Sales

PPE, Safety Supplies, Tools, Machine Sales, Machine Accessories, Hose & Rubber Products.

Boomer NDT Services

Full service non-destructive inspection company.

Wire Rope Industries Atlantic

Leading supplier of wire rope, wire rope slings, chain slings, synthetic slings, synthetic rope, trawl warp, guy strand and much more.

Fundy Machining and Millwright Services

Providing industry with quality machining and millwright services since 1975