Cutting chain is a job that many tools, technicians and even businesses struggle to do quickly and safely. A new and improved way of cutting chain is now available that comes with many benefits, including improved safety and productivity.
There’s a reason why chain is used almost everywhere. Chain’s durability, high breaking force, and capacity to carry a working load makes it the preferred option in a wide variety of applications. Where chain really shines is within the crane and hoist market—you’ll see it used in material handling, chain blocks, and chain hoists.
When doing overhead lifts, chains must be specified as grade 80 or higher which ensures that it is made of well-manufactured metal and is extremely durable. Chains must also be regularly inspected to ensure there are no deformities. If a chain link is damaged, it will not be able to handle the rated load and using the chain could be dangerous.
Whether cutting chain to size for your specific application or removing damaged links, there are a variety of ways to cut chain today, but many come with downsides.
A cut-off grinder is a versatile tool that is often found in many shops and on jobsites but it’s not a tool specifically designed to cut chain. Have you ever seen those images on the internet of rotating blade pieces stuck in safety glasses? Well, that’s one way to illustrate the danger of using a grinder to cut chain. If your cut-off wheel gets pinched in the material, has any deformation, or is improperly sized for your grinder, you risk the cut-off wheel exploding. A grinder spinning at thousands of RPMs has incredible force and momentum. If the blade breaks, those metal pieces will go flying, and if a protective guard is not being used, the operator may be injured.
When using a grinder, there are also risks associated with shooting sparks. These small pieces of burning metal can injure an operator who isn’t wearing protective safety gear. Sparks could also potentially start a fire. To avoid causing injury to other workers from sparks, you need to keep about a 3 metre perimeter around the area where the work is being done.
Sparks can negatively impact your working environment in another way. Both the noise and the metal dust that grinders create make for unsafe working conditions that require the use of a respirator while cutting.
Finally, when using a grinder, there’s also the risk if hitting an adjacent link and causing damage. It takes a good amount of focus to keep a vibrating grinder steady throughout the amount of time it takes to cut a chain. While cutting a single chain with a grinder might not be that big of a deal, if you must do that several times a day, fatigue can quickly set in. If the grinder touches an adjacent link, it would be compromised. A mistake like that wastes valuable raw materials and time.
A torch is another tool that can be found in many shops and on jobsites. Torches have a lot of versatility when it comes to cutting. A torch can cut through thick sheet metal, wire rope, or strong chain. And while a torch will get the job done slightly faster than a grinder, it also has its downsides.
First, a torch is essentially a very concentrated open flame. This intense heat is not only being thrown forward, it also bounces off the chain and comes back at the operator. This is known as heat kick-back and it can cause operator fatigue. Imagine it’s a 100-degree day with 100% humidity in an unairconditioned shop in Houston and your job is to prepare 50 chains for a customer order using a torch. Not only will you easily be drenched in sweat, fatigue will soon set in. When it does, you risk damaging an adjacent link.
Like grinders, another downside to torches are the shooting sparks which can cause injury to nearby workers. The operator themselves will need to wear a protective facemask and flame-retardant clothing, as well as heat-resistant gloves to handle the chain, which will become extremely hot from the intense heat of the torch.
Manual chain cutters
A manual chain cutter is one that works by pulling down on a lever to either mechanically cut a chain or manually pump a hydraulic system to cut it. While it is an inexpensive option, there are a few downsides. First, it relies on the force of a single person to cut the chain. And second, it can’t cut very large pieces of chain. Most manual chain cutters can’t handle chain thicker than 9.5mm. When you need to cut a chain that is 12.5 mm thick or greater, a manual chain cutter is not going to be an option.
Enerpac introduces a new cutting solution
Enerpac recently launched a series of industrial cutters, including a chain cutter that improves safety and productivity. The Enerpac chain cutter can quickly cut through heavy-duty chain links—and it works by having an operator pull a trigger. It uses a cylinder driven by a radial pump powered by an electric motor. A highly durable blade attached to the front of the tool works against another angled blade to cut the chain with hydraulic force. A chain as thick as 32 mm can be cut in less than 40 seconds.
When it comes to safety, the Enerpac chain cutter cuts links behind an enclosed, transparent safety guard, protecting the operator’s hand from potential injury while allowing the operator to monitor the cutting process. With no sparks or open flames to worry about, the operator is safe not wearing fire-retardant clothing—all that’s needed are regular safety gloves and glasses. Not having to put on flame-retardant clothing, a protective facemask, or special heat-resistant gloves can save the operator valuable time. After the chain is cut, it will be cool enough to handle, so the operator can move on to the next task.
Adjacent chain links are protected from damage when using the Enerpac chain cutter. The angled blade automatically pushes the other links out of the way, guaranteeing that you will always be cutting a single link—no matter its size—without compromising adjacent ones.
Another important benefit is that the tool saves the operator from fatigue. Cutters produce minimal vibration, helping prevent HAVS (Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome). Less fatigue can help improve operator productivity. And clean-up is easy, which saves even more time. This electrically powered tool plugs into 120V or 230V outlets and can easily be transported wherever an external power source is available.
The new Enerpac chain cutter is going to change the way people cut chain on jobsites and in shops everywhere. It’s a very capable tool that brings a new level of speed and safety to an otherwise difficult task.
When safety and time matter, the right tool makes all the difference. Enerpac industrial cutters offer a quick, safer cutting solution with no risk of exploding blades or sparks and open flame. The Enerpac new line of industrial cutters includes five families of tools designed to cut metal bar, industrial chain, wire rope and cables, metal tubes, profiles and similar materials. Enerpac cutters are built to handle industrial-grade materials on a daily basis. Each cutter is designed and built to last in tough working conditions for a simpler and more productive workflow.
For more information on all Enerpac industrial cutters, to see videos of them action, or to request a demo at your jobsite, please visit https://www.enerpac.com/en-us/news/new-product/new-industrial-cutters.