The heavy equipment industry relies on a variety of robust lifting equipment, including sheaves. These sheaves are often made of nylon because of the unique benefits the material offers to heavy lifting operations. Learn more about sheaves, why nylon is an ideal material choice for them, and their common applications in heavy equipment.

What Is a Sheave?

A sheave is a grooved wheel that holds a wire, belt, rope, or cable. Typically mounted on a bearing or axle in the pulley system, sheaves are used in machinery to change the direction or amount of a lifting force. Sheaves reduce the wear and friction on the lifting wire, cable, belt, or rope and can be made from various materials—such as wood, plastic, and metal—depending on the application. Some examples of these applications include cranes, forklifts, wire drawing machines, and cable stranding machines.

Nylon is a popular material for sheaves because of its durability, longevity, and versatility. In fact, nylon sheaves outperform their metal counterparts in these key areas. WS Hampshire fabricates custom thermoset and thermoplastic products, including bushings, bearings, wear pads, and sheaves. We specialize in working with nonmetallic materials that can replace metal components in demanding applications, such as pulleys.

Sheave Applications

WS Hampshire fabricates many types of sheaves for lifting and pulling applications in the heavy equipment industry. Here is an overview of how our nylon sheaves are most commonly used:

  • Lifting: Nylon sheaves are lighter than steel which reduces boom weight and allows for greater lifting capacity, with reducing wear and maintenance demands on the wire rope.
  • Aerospace: Due to their durability in harsh operating conditions, nylon sheaves are often found in aerospace landing gear, elevators, rudders, ailerons, spoilers, and flaps.
  • Marine: Nylon sheaves also stand up to harsh marine environments, such as saltwater. They are part of steering systems, marine dredges, fisheries, and custom marine equipment.

    • Floating and shipboard cranes: Sheaves are vital components of cranes on ships and offshore platforms, handling heavy cargo and equipment in challenging marine environments.
  • Medical: Nylon sheaves are also reliable components in medical extrusion equipment, scopes, surgical robots, surgical tables, recovery beds, strand annealing furnaces, wire drawing equipment, and traction equipment.
  • Material handling: Conveyors on material processing equipment use nylon sheaves to keep operations running smoothly.
  • Emergency: Firetrucks use our nylon sheaves for rescue pulley systems.

Advantages of Using Nylon Sheaves

Nylon sheaves provide a lightweight and simple installation option, especially for tower crane attachments. Compared to metal sheaves, industrial nylon sheaves offer many benefits:

  • Corrosion resistance: Unlike metal, nylon is resistant to saltwater corrosion and rust. Therefore, nylon sheaves do not require the same level of surface maintenance as metal sheaves.
  • Lightweight construction: Compared to metal sheaves, nylon sheaves are up to seven times lighter, reducing the overall weight of the system without compromising durability. This reduces the overall weight of the system, which can be crucial in applications where weight is a concern, such as cranes, mobile equipment, and aircraft applications. The weight savings frees up more working load capacity, allowing the system to lift more.
  • Longer cable/rope life: Nylon sheaves are more elastic and allow a larger contact surface area between the groove and the rope or cable, distributing the load more evenly and reducing stress. As a result, the entire system benefits from reduced maintenance and cost savings.

Nylon Sheaves For Heavy Equipment Industry

In the heavy equipment industry, sheaves play an important role in lifting systems. The grooved wheel components are used alongside ropes, cables, or chains in pulley systems to change both the direction and amount of force employed to facilitate the lifting and lowering of materials and equipment. Cast nylon sheaves find application in a variety of mechanical equipment and systems, such as cranes, forklifts, and wire drawing and cable stranding machines.

Pulleys vs. Sheaves

The terms “sheave” and “pulley” are often used interchangeably, but they refer to different parts of the lifting system. A pulley refers to the entire mechanical system used to facilitate the lifting and lowering of heavy objects. Its construction includes a wheel and axle or shaft designed to support movement and the directional change of a cable or belt.

A sheave is a component of a pulley system that assists in the transmission of power by allowing the system operator to change both the direction and amount of force needed for lifting. The use of multiple sheaves increases the mechanical advantage of the pulley system, each one reducing the amount of necessary force by half. Sheaves also minimize friction, helping cable or rope to move freely and reducing wear on the cable.

Nylon Sheaves at WS Hampshire

Nylon crane sheaves are strong, durable, and reliable in heavy-duty lifting operations. WS Hampshire custom-fabricates nylon sheaves, replacing traditional metal sheaves. Since the 1890s, WS Hampshire has been providing custom nonmetal solutions with our CNC machining, stamping, punching, vacuum forming, rotary die, and assembly services. Today we specialize in replacing conventional materials with ones that are a better fit for their application, saving our customers time and money.

To learn more about our OEM products and capabilities, request more information or contact us today.

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