What Are Support Stands?

Support stands are devices used to hold a piece of equipment or person at an elevated or extended position. This product area represents a large range of products - from heavy-duty industrial jack stands to light-weight, easily-adjustable camera and speaker stands.

 

When selecting support stands, buyers need to consider the type of stand required, the load and height requirements, the material(s) it is made of, and special features that may be desired or required. This GlobalSpec selection guide is designed to help buyers with this process.

 

Types of Support Stands

The suitability of a support stand for an application depends primarily on how it is constructed.

·         Jack stands provide back-up support and operator protection for a lifted load such as a vehicle, heavy pipe, steel roll, or other materials and equipment under installation, manufacture, or repair.

·         Monopods or unipods are single, free-standing, solid or hollow, cylindrical supports. The base of a monopod often consists of a flat supporting disc. They offer increased mobility, compactness, and simplicity at the cost of less stability. They are most suited for applications requiring more portability than other support types. Examples include stands for firearms, telescopes, and cameras.

·         Tripods are supports with three legs or struts for supporting an object with stability. Tripods have a determinate structure for supporting a load. Tripods can provide a high degree of portability because the struts often swing out from an upper head or mounting platform and the struts may also collapse or telescope. The head may have rotating, panning, tilting, or sliding features which allow versatile positioning of the supported device.

·         Quadrapods are supports with four legs or struts for supporting an object with added stability. They can offer greater load support than tripods depending on construction because of the added leg. Quadrapod stands can consist of four struts attached to the bottom of another strut or two struts attached to the ends of a horizontal head, beam, or mounting platform with a saw horse or swing set appearance. A heavy legged quadrapod stand may provide a larger platform structure for supporting a wider load. Quadrapods can provide a high degree of portability because the struts or legs often swing out from an upper head or mounting platform and the struts may also collapse or telescope.

·         Pedestals are types of stands consisting of a solid base, single column or strut, and an upper mounting or support platform. Typically, pedestals are fixed or bolted to a floor to provide a steady, stable support for a power tool, grinder, control panel, or navigation instruments. Grinder pedestals are a common pedestal found in manufacturing settings. The grinder pedestals often have a rest and a holder cup for coolant or lubricant.

·         Stands are used to hold an object at an elevated position from a horizontal surface. Stand components can include bases, struts or column element(s), heads, platforms, and arms.  Stands represents a large range of products - from heavy-duty industrial jack stands to light-weight, easily-adjustable camera and speaker stands. Some stands support an object in a horizontal and vertical position.

 

Performance Requirements

Height and load application requirements must be met by a support stand in order for it to perform properly. For elevated tasks, a stand must be able to extend the operator or object to the desired height. Stands must also have a higher maximum load capacity than that required to lift or support the object(s). For optimal continuous performance, a support stand should have a maximum load capacity much higher than the operating load so stresses do not damage the support over time. For support and lifting applications, engineers can incorporate a factor of safety into the design or selection.

 

Factor of Safety = Material Strength ÷ Design Load

 

Design Tip: For applications that lift of people or personnel, the factor of safety is typically double that incorporated for normal loads.

Materials of Construction

Performance of a support stand also varies by the type of material used in its construction.

·         Aluminum alloys provide high toughness at moderate strength levels, with very good corrosion resistance and less-than-half the density of steel.  With the addition of copper, aluminum alloys can be heat-treated for higher hardness and strength levels. The strength-to-weight ratio, weldability, and corrosion resistance makes aluminum alloys a commonly selected material for aircraft and marine applications. Most aluminum alloys have good availability.

·         Stainless steels are alloys of iron, chrome, nickel, and other alloying elements. Stainless steel is a high strength, highly corrosion resistance material that might be too expensive for some basic stands and supports. Its high corrosion resistance does find use for stands and supports in aerospace, exterior, laboratory, or marine applications.

·         Steels, including various grades of carbon and alloy steels, have high toughness, strength, and good weldability. Plain carbon and low-alloy steels are very available at moderate cost. The structure should be painted or coated to prevent degradation by rust or corrosion.

·         Plastic and pultruded fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composite materials provide an alternative to the more commonly applied materials. The dielectric and nonreflective nature of some plastics and composites provide an advantage over metal structures in certain antenna applications. Their good electrical insulation characteristics make them safer when used in electrical applications. While more costly, fiberglass reinforced plastics can provide superior strength compared to wood, and reduced maintenance costs compared to wood and some metals. Plastics without reinforcements typically will not have the strength for applications requiring long extensions or height, but they may be suitable for smaller mounts or supports.

·         Magnesium and magnesium alloys are non-ferrous metals with low density (1.74 g/cc for Mg versus 2.7 g/cc for Al), relatively high strength to weight ratio, good ductility, moderate strength, and good corrosion resistance. Magnesium and magnesium alloys are used in a variety of industries as well as in aircraft, marine, and power tool applications.

·         Wood is organic material from trees. The strength of the material depends on the type of wood. Wood can be a low cost alternative for stands and supports, but does not offer as much strength as metals and some plastics. Wood is also sometimes selected for its aesthetic qualities.

 

Features

Finally, buyers may need to consider the various features available when sourcing products.

·         Adjustable height or length support structures include telescoping, crank-up, extending, roller, scissor, and rack & pinion devices. These allow the overall extended length of the product to vary depending on the application.

·         Booms or gliding arms can incorporated into a stand, forming a tee shape. The arm portion can slide back and forth at the joint with the stand. Some boom arms may have a counterweight to balance the load. Some boom stands may allow the arm to rotate vertically or horizontally.

·         Fixed bases allow the base of an arm, mount, stand, or support structure to be fixed to a supporting surface by fastening, screwing, bolting, welding, brazing, or adhesive joining.

·         Flexible or articulated arms, mounts, supports, or stands bend at many points along the length of the product to allow vertical or horizontal positioning of the supported equipment, instrument, tool, camera, microphone, or device as needed.

·         Free-standing stands or supports are self-supporting and have a wide base to avoid tipping.

·         Magnetic bases allow the base of an arm, mount, stand, or support structure to be fixed to a steel or ferromagnetic surface through a strong magnetic force.

·         Mobility allows a stand or support to have a base with wheels or skids, which allow the supporting structure to be rolled or slid into place. Mobile stands and supports are useful in remote, field, and temporary applications.

·         Feed rollers or ball transfer heads can be incorporated into a support, stand, or mount to handle and support a long stock material while it is fed into a manufacturing process.

·         Panning or rotating stands, arms, or supports allow mounted or supported instruments, antennas, or cameras to be moved for surveillance or measurements of the required area.

·         Swing or tilting can be incorporated allows the led, strut, boom, head, or base of a support or stand to tilt or swing.

·         Vacuum bases allow the base of an arm, mount, stand, or support structure to vacuum clamp to a non-porous and smooth surface.