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The tests prove it: synthetic link chains are a strong, lighter, and reliable alternative to steel

Good product stewardship counters the questions that naturally arise with the introduction of a transformative technology. In the case of synthetic link chains made with Dyneema®, the question is whether they really are as reliable as their steel equivalents.

So DSM Dyneema ran some additional tests…

Synthetic link chains outperform steel chains on all counts

Synthetic link chains are the new kid on the heavy-lashing and towing block. Turning expectations upside down, they’re eight times lighter than a steel link chain of the same strength. They are gentle on loads yet robust. They are safer and less noisy to work with. They are easy to shorten, follow the contours of the goods being held in place, and are easy to handle, coil, and store.

Introduced in 2015 by DSM Dyneema and partner Load Solutions A/S, the combination of strength without the weight, plus better fatigue resistance, higher safety, and a longer life expectancy, are leading to growing interest in the use of chains made with Dyneema®. They’re already ideal for transporting outsized cargo, heavy shipping, heavy trucking/hauling, fishery, and aquaculture. In the future, expect to see them make inroads into special-requirement markets like lifting, mining, defense, logging, and mooring.

The challenge of being a challenger

The introduction of such transformative technology, however, nearly always raises questions about whether the claims made for it can be relied on. Load Solutions’ Tycan® chains, made with Dyneema®, have a Working Load Limit of 100 kN (10.2 metric tons) and a Minimum Breaking Load of 200 kN (20.4 metric tons). They are DNV-GL certified for heavy load securing, for tie down, and for direct lashing.

So, embracing good product stewardship, DSM Dyneema extended its testing regime beyond securing basic certification to the ongoing performance of mass-produced synthetic link chains made with Dyneema® – specifically, their reliability under load. It did this by testing 50 sets of Tycan® commercial chains at an independent laboratory. The chains were random samples from the plant.

50 tests give a real-world assessment of scatter strength

The tests, initiated by DSM scientist Dr. Roel Marissen, focused on assessing the strength scatter of the chains tested – the spread of points, or scatter, at which each of the 50 chains tested achieved their minimum break load. “Compared to more than 1,000 years of steel wire, Dyneema® fiber is a brand new material for creating link chains, and, as a new kind of high-strength material, it required more in-depth statistical scatter research,” explains Marissen. “Knowing that, I wanted to run a lot of tests. So we sampled from the mass production run at Industrias Murtra S.A., the premium manufacturing partner of Load Solutions A/S. We looked at 50 chains with the same technical user specifications. This forms a set size that really gives you a good insight into the statistical behavior.”

During testing, the strength of each chain and the location of the eventual failed link were documented for detailed interpretation. Weibull statistics were then applied to extrapolate the allowable load for high reliability (very low risk of failures). Two approaches were used and while they gave slightly different results, both methods indicated that the reliability at the chains’ specified Working Load Limit (100 kN) is very good. “What these results mean to me, as a scientist and one of the most critical experts in the field, is that we can quantify the scatter and that the reliability of the synthetic chain convinces me, says Marissen. “And incidentally, while I expect, as the technical-scientific challenger, that the scatter you see with synthetic link chains made with Dyneema® may be greater than that with steel link chains, we have not yet been able to find any tests that have investigated scatter in steel chains.”

Read the full research paper

The research by DSM Dyneema was published in online journal Materials Sciences and Applications. Download the full research paper, Weibull Statistics Strength Investigation of Synthetic Link Chains Made from Ultra-Strong Polyethylene Fibers, below.

Download the Research Paper

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