The Versatility of Chains


A chain is a series of connected links that are usually made from metal. There are two main roles of a chain, one is to lift or pull objects, and the other to transfer power. The chains designed for lifting have links that are torus shaped, which allows the chain to move in two dimensions. These chains can be used for lifting with a hoist, or securing, as in a bicycle lock, and have been around for centuries. They were used to constrain prisoners and haul heavy loads, and even today, chains have a myriad of uses.

Roller chains

This type of chain is used to transfer power, with the links designed to mesh with the sprocket of a machine, and are flexible in only one dimension. The short cylindrical rollers are held together by side links, and the tooth section of a sprocket fits perfectly between two rollers, allowing for a smooth transmission of power from one source to another. A roller chain transfers the power to the wheel on a bicycle or motorcycle, and they are used on many industrial and agricultural machines, which require an effective means of power transmission. Roller chains have developed over the years, and with the help of lubricants, reduce friction while providing higher efficiency and less wear.


Roller chains require lubrication, and many are in a closed environment, such as the chain that drives the camshaft on an internal combustion engine, or the workings of a factory machine. The chain and sprocket mechanism are sealed in an oil bath, and can operate efficiently, as long as the supply of lubricant is constant.

There are also chains that have to operate in dirty environments, and for whatever reason, cannot be sealed. Farm equipment, bicycles, and chainsaws are typical examples. These chains will have a higher rate of wear, as grime and small objects will contaminate the surfaces, causing wear, and increased friction.

Transport chains

These are high-tensile chains used for drawing or securing loads, and consist of broad, torus-shaped links for high strength. The links are usually identical, and at the ends are two hooks of the right size to slide over one chain link, but small enough not to let the links slip by. Lashing points would be used to secure the chain in place, and if you are interested in the latest designs, check out lifting points and lashing points from Brindley Chains, who offer a wide range of designs suited for any application.

Snow chains

Chains have always been used on vehicles to improve traction in snowy conditions. They are an essential item to carry alongside the spare wheel, and are easy to fit. These are sold in pairs and the size should match the corresponding wheel of the vehicle. Driving with chains decreases fuel efficiency and speeds are slower, but you get increased braking and traction on a slippery surface.

The chain has played a major role in the industrial revolution, and has evolved alongside technology, into the highly efficient generation we have today.

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