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What's the Difference between Plasma® Rope and Wire Rope?

What's the Difference between Plasma® Rope and Wire Rope?

purple plasma rope

Over the last few decades, Plasma slings have become a critical load handling component for the most challenging lifting and rigging jobs, replacing steel wire rope slings. These high-performance slings have improved the perception of using synthetic rope slings for overhead lifting applications through characteristics like light weight, strength, flexibility, and versatility.

Plasma slings create more safety and reliability in the workforce. This includes preventing risk of injury, improving operational cost savings due to decreased rigging time, and surpassing traditional steel wire solutions through strength, weight, handling, and storage efficiencies. 

Plasma Slings are becoming more widely accepted in the lifting industry and workforce. But choosing the right lifting equipment can be a tough decision to make when safety, durability, and efficiency are concerned. You may also be wondering how Plasma rope differs from wire rope, and why you should invest in Plasma Sling. Continue reading to learn the differences between Plasma slings and wire rope, their advantages and disadvantages, and how Plasma slings can make a difference in the lifting and rigging industry.

What is the Difference between Plasma Rope and Wire Rope?

Plasma Slings and Ropes


Plasma rope

Plasma Sling, made with UHMWPE, is a high-strength synthetic rope used for a variety of lifting and rigging applications. UHMWPE stands for Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene that has been enhanced by a recrystallization process to significantly enhance its strength. At US Cargo Control, we carry 12 strand, 12x12 strand, and Eye & Eye slings manufactured by Cortland Company. We can even customize your Plasma sling or rope to fit your needs.

Unlike wire rope, Plasma rope slings will not rust or corrode. They have good UV resistance and much better bend and tension fatigue resistance. Plasma gives you the strength and durability of wire rope – but up to seven times lighter.

This type of rope is great for water-based applications because it’s buoyant and water-resistance. It’s also used in almost any application where wire rope can be used because it offers an equal strength to wire rope for size, but much more lightweight (85%) than steel. Easton Schlender, Technical Sales Representative of Cortland, mentions that

“modern, high strength synthetic fibers of the Plasma Rope are remarkably durable and will not rust, corrode or produce broken/protruding wires. The Plasma Sling is not affected by salt or fresh water, and its wear points can be protected from abrasion, cutting and heat damage. Easy to inspect and repair, they are also soft on hands, offering a safer solution for riggers and expensive payloads.”

Advantages and Disadvantages of Plasma Slings


Plasma Sling being used for lifting and rigging applications

As we have mentioned in our previous blog, there are many benefits to plasma slings. Advantages this synthetic lifting rope include:

  • Easy splicing – done in the field with minimal tools
  • Easier to handle and rig than wire rope alternatives
  • Seven times lighter than wire rope
  • About half the size of a round sling
  • Low risk of recoil
  • Non-corrosive and safer to handle (no broken wires)
  • Buoyant in water
  • Extremely flexible and conforms easily to surfaces

There are a lot of benefits to using Plasma slings. However, there are also a few things to consider if you decide on the high-performance synthetic lifting sling. Such factors include:

  • Cost - The sling is more expensive than the traditional nylon or polyester sling and wire rope slings. Depending on your job, the benefits could outweigh the costs.
  • Abrasion and cutting - still a soft material made of woven fibers. If sharp edges rub on it over and over, it will be abrasive and could cut.
  • Heat-Resistance - It is lower than what it is for metal. If you heat these up too much, the fibers will start to react, could melt, misshape, or else.

Wire Ropes Slings


US Cargo Control wire rope sling

As we explained in our blog on what’s wire rope and how it’s different from cable rope, wire rope is constructed where a strand consists of two or more wires arranged and twisted in a specific arrangement. The individual strands are then laid in a helical pattern around the core of the rope. Once the wires are formed, they all come together to create greater strength and flexibility.

Wire rope slings are popular in construction, automotive, oil and gas, and general manufacturing industries where a variety of heavy loads and rugged conditions exist. In fact, they’re a preferred lifting device for many reasons, providing structure, flexibility, and having the ability to handle bending stresses.

Their fabrication offers excellent abrasion-resistance and heat resistance to use in extreme conditions. Each steel wire rope configuration is manufactured in a variety of configurations, so each configuration will offer different benefits. For example, a smaller number of large outer wires offers better wear and corrosion resistance, while a larger number of small wires provides a better level of flexibility and fatigue resistance.   

Advantages and Disadvantages of Wire Rope


wire rope sling application

Wire rope is a common choice for many reasons, like:

  • Being lighter in weight than chain slings with low initial costs
  • Having high strength and flexibility in smaller diameter design
  • The braided or multi-part slings are more resistance to kinking, higher flexibility, sit tightly around the load in choker hitches, and are able to regain their original shape after a lift
  • Used in vertical, choker, and basket hitches

They do come with many benefits, they also come with a few disadvantages including:

  • Having low strength to weight ratio compared to alternatives
  • Its construction makes it difficult to inspect, especially in and around the core
  • Misuse can cause kinking, crushing, or abrasion - resulting in damage and loss in strength
  • Can be susceptible to internal and external corrosion
  • Never use steel slings at temperatures above 400°F or below -40°F

Plasma slings and wire rope slings do have their strengths and weaknesses, but there are many factors to consider when selecting a lifting sling that will provide consistent performance over many safe and reliable lifts. If you're unsure of which lifting sling to invest in or which is right for your job, reach out to our customer service experts if you have questions or concerns.

How does Plasma Sling and Ropes Make a Difference in the Lifting and Rigging Industries?


US Cargo Control's Plasma Sling being used for water applications

There are many benefits to using plasma rope and slings. This type of rope does cost more than wire rope and wire rope slings, but depending on your job, the benefits could outweigh the costs.

Plasma Slings are a great choice when considering how to improve safety in the workforce. They do not recoil or whiplash like wire rope and chain slings when they fall. It doesn’t have as much built-up energy, so if the Plasma rope breaks, the line will simply fall to the ground. Also, the fibers are soft, so you’ll never worry about broken wires, metal burns, or corrosion when handling the rope.

Wire has, can, and will have deadly affects when catastrophic failure occurs. It will violently break and potentially injury nearby workers or damage equipment.

Plasma slings are easy to inspect and one of the best ergonomic tools on the market to replace heavy, cumbersome wire rope. With their ease of splicing and repairs, you can return any slings in question for free evaluation and repair estimates.

USCC is Proud to Partner with Cortland


US Cargo Control sales team member Alex Ledger to get you what you want, when you need it

We cherish partnerships where we can all help the industries we serve in become safer, more efficient, and be able to complete their jobs without any worries. US Cargo Control is proud to be an official supplier of Cortland’s intelligent line of Plasma slings, so you can take the weight off your shoulders and safety into the palms of your hands.

We have a team of lifting and rigging equipment experts that understand Plasma Slings. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to give our team a call at 866-444-9990 or email to get the answers you need.

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