Are their alternatives to steel for making trolleys?

Many businesses rely on trolleys made from steel to manually move items, but can steel be replaced by other materials?

Why steel?

Tubular steel is ideal for making trolleys. Lightweight yet very strong, skilled metalworkers can shape and weld steel to manufacture trolleys that work well and last a long time. Tubular steel is coated to protect the steel from corrosion and acid spills.

Most trolley manufacturers make equipment in small batches. They can easily modify designs made from steel, making then bigger or smaller than standard sizes, or adding bespoke features. This is not expensive as it does not requires new moulds or time-consuming alterations to machinery.

Steel alternatives

Kevlar and carbon-fibre are alternatives to steel;, but their only advantage is their lightness. They are not stronger. Wearing steel to protect the torso from bullets or knives is not practical because it is too heavy. Kevlar vests are a lightweight alternative.

In vehicles where weight affects performance, carbon-fibre bodywork makes them lighter and more fuel efficient.

Constructing trolleys from Kevlar or carbon-fibre so that they are as strong as ones made from steel would make the components of the trolley so thick that they would not be practical.

Aluminium is lighter than steel, but lacks its strength and is too easily bent.

Some trolleys for use at the home are made from plastic, but it’s not a suitable material for heavy duty trolleys that carry heavy loads and are used every day. Trolleys can be made from wood, but this is also inferior to steel.

Alternatives to steel are not as strong. Some materials, like diamonds, are stronger but brittle and would shatter if used for trolleys, plus their high cost makes them an unrealistic choice anyway.

What about the future?

There has been research and scientific papers that suggest a material that is stronger than steel could be developed sometime in the future.

Hydrogen can be subjected to a strong magnetic field to create a strong substance. To do this would mean creating a huge magnetic field, requiring massive amounts of energy to generate. This makes it a very dangerous operation.

There is speculation that steel alternatives exist on the surface of neutron stars, but it would be expensive and take a very long time to send a mining spacecraft to extract it and bring the material back to Earth.

In the future, it is possible that scientists may come up with a material that is better than steel for making trolleys, but for now, steel is the best material to use.

Sticking with steel

If we ever come across advanced alien beings, they may have the technology of a material that is better than steel. Until that day, businesses will continue to rely on steel for making their trolleys.

There may be advances in welding to make joining steel quicker and more efficient, but tubular steel will remain the material of choice for trolleys because it is practical and strong.

Posted by Derek
2nd November 2018
Metalworking

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