Wire rope is made from strands of wire wrapped around a central core, which is usually made of metal or rope. It has a multitude of uses and comes in various thicknesses. The rope is usually already lubricated when it is new. However, it is a good idea to re-lubricate the rope during its lifetime. In particular, lubricating your wire rope will help to prevent corrosion, abrasive wear, contamination and fatigue.
Corrosion is a process that leads to pitting and metal loss, and it is usually caused by exposure to humidity, high temperatures, fumes or salt water. It is therefore a particular risk if the rope is being used in a marine environment. It can also be a problem if the cable is taken out of use temporarily — it should then be cleaned and lubricated before being stored correctly. Proper lubrication will prevent corrosion by coating the rope and sealing it to prevent moisture from attacking the wire.
A wire rope can also be weakened by abrasive wear. This is when the individual strands of the wire rub against each other during operation, which can happen on both the outside and the inside of the rope. When the wear becomes excessive, the rope can fail altogether and break. A penetrating lubricant can help to prevent this abrasion by reducing the friction between the individual wires and allowing them to move over each other smoothly.
Contaminants can be another source of wear in the rope. Solid particles of dirt and other matter can find their way into the rope and will increase the abrasion between the strands. This is known as three-body abrasion. A lubricant can prevent the contaminants from entering the rope and will also reduce the abrasion between the particles and the wire strands, extending the life of the rope.
Fatigue is caused by the cable suffering the same repetitive strains. As a cable is generally used for the same purposes, it will experience the same repeated winding and unwinding, bending and straightening and twisting and untwisting. These repeated actions will weaken the rope. Proper lubrication, however, will protect the wire from these stresses and strains and will allow the rope to be used repeatedly without significant weakening.
Proper maintenance of your wire ropes will vastly increase their lifetime. By keeping them lubricated, you will lower your costs and help ensure a safe working environment.