Hand-operated cranking technology has been around for thousands of years, with some of the early examples dating back to China’s Han Dynasty when it was used to spin silk, hemp and other textiles. Today, cranks are used in a variety of industries, including manufacturing. They allow a single worker to easily turn the axle of a machine by converting rotational motion into reciprocating motion. Not all crank handles are the same, however, and manufacturers should consider the five following things when choosing one.
The most common materials in which crank handles are made include stainless steel, aluminum and plastic. Stainless steel crank handles are the strongest, making them ideal in high-stress applications. Aluminum crank handles are also strong, and they tend to weigh less than steel handles. But manufacturers really can’t go wrong with crank handles made of either of these three materials. Even plastic is perfectly suitable for many manufacturing applications.
#2) Revolving vs Stationary Grip
Some crank handles feature a revolving grip, whereas other feature a non-revolving, stationary grip. With a revolving grip, workers can rotate it to achieve the ideal position for maximum force. However, some workers prefer the simplicity of crank handles with a stationary grip.
Crank handles are available in a variety of lengths. When shopping for a crank handle, manufacturers should pay attention to the center-to-center length. This refers to the distance — in inches or millimeters — from the center of the crank handle to the center of the grip. A longer length allows for greater leverage, though it will consume more space than a shorter crank handle.
#4) Folding vs Non-Folding
When space is a concern, a folding crank handle may be a smart investment. Folding crank handles are characterized by their compact, folding design. When a folding crank handle isn’t in use, it can be removed from the connected machine and folded down for storage. Not only does this save space; it also reduces the risk of worker injury. Countless manufacturing workers have been injured by accidentally running or falling into attached crank handles.
#5) Color and Style
Finally, manufacturers should consider the color and style of a crank handle. Crank handles are used in conjunction with a machine, so they should feature a similar appearance. Choosing a crank handle in a color or style that doesn’t match the machine with which it’s used looks awkward and unattractive. It won’t necessarily impact the crank’s performance, but it’s still something that manufacturers should avoid.