Scissor Lift: A Common, Sturdy Lift

In seventh grade my classmates and I competed against each other in a toothpick bridge building contest. The object was to build the strongest, sturdiest bridge using mathematical equations. There were certain criteria the bridge had to meet such as it had to have some sort of symmetry and it had to be built proportionally to what an actual bridge would be. My idea was to build a strong bridge with the toothpicks criss-crossing, one on top of the other. I did not win the competition, but I placed in the top 10.

Remembering the criss-cross bridge foundation I built reminds me of the support foundation scissor lifts, a very common form of lift. A scissor lift can be found in many different applications and industries. They are usually only able to move vertically, the criss-cross supports fold down and expand up to create an elevated work platform. The lift is able to move upwards through the use of pressure applied to the lowest set of supports. Because the lifts are mostly limited to vertical movements, they may also contain a small “bridge” at the top to allow for some horizontal movement.

Scissor lifts are also known as aerial lifts or elevate work platforms. They can be powered hydraulically, pneumatically or mechanically. Typically, hydraulic or pneumatic forms of pressure are preferred because they require no power in order to descend. A simple release of hydraulic or pneumatic pressure allows for a fail-safe way to return the lift to the ground.

Scissor lifts can be found in the automotive, utility, aviation, theatre, construction, entertainment and athletics industries, among many more. Scissor lifts are used to reach items that would be unreachable with the use of a ladder and a really tall person. A theatre, television studio or movie set may use scissor lifts to rig lighting fixtures and scissor lifts could be used to film an aerial or high-up view of a sporting event. They are ideal for many applications because they are sturdy and reliable.