A chain is a serial assembly of connected pieces, called links, typically made of metal, with an overall character similar to that of a rope in that it is flexible and curved in compression but linear, rigid, and load bearing in tension. A chain may consist of two or more links. Chains can be classified by their design, which can be dictated by their use:
Those designed for lifting, such as when used with a hoist; for pulling; or for securing, such as with a bicycle lock, have links that are torus shaped, which make the chain flexible in two dimensions (the fixed third dimension being a chain’s length). Small chains serving as jewellery are a mostly decorative analogue of such types.
Those designed for transferring power in machines have links designed to mesh with the teeth of the sprockets of the machine and are flexible in only one dimension. They are known as roller chains, though there are also non-roller chains such as block chain.
Two distinct chains can be connected using a quick link, carabiner, shackle, or clevis. Load can be transferred from a chain to another object by a chain stopper.