A stanchion is an upright post which is usually utilized to support something. Stanchions appear in a wide range of environments, from the decks of yachts to the stalls of milking sheds. Manufactured stanchions which come as part of kits are made by many companies and people can also devise their own for a custom purpose. Any sort of rod or pole can serve as a stanchion and it is possible to come up with some rather creative variations on supportive stanchions.
Stanchions can be made with a wide variety of materials. Because they are designed to be supportive in nature, they are usually made with materials which can withstand weight and pressure. Metals are common choices but materials like wood and highly durable plastics can be used as well. The width of the stanchion may be adjusted relative to the height in order to address support needs. The design can also vary depending on whether the stanchion is fixed or movable, and what kinds of materials it may be attached to.
One classic use of stanchions is in temporary barriers. Barriers for lines at airports, movie theaters, museums, and so forth are often made with stanchions which support looped tape or rope. The barrier can be easily and quickly reconfigured to address various needs and to keep a crowd under control. In this case, the barrier is more symbolic than functional because people can easily duck under the ropes or knock the stanchions over to bring down the barrier.
Stanchions are also utilized in architecture to provide vertical support. Open spaces like large windows may require such support to distribute the weight of the structure above, for example. Stanchions may be used for fencing and in more substantial barriers such as those used to control livestock for handling as well. A version of the stanchion is also used as a hitch on many vehicles, in which case the post may fold back when not in use so that it is not in the way.
Some stanchions are fixed in place, and may be set in cement or other materials so that they cannot be knocked over. Others are fixed but can fold or swivel as needed. Mobile stanchions supported by broad bases can also be seen. These devices can be moved around to reconfigure a space or area. The bottom is usually weighted to make the stanchion difficult to tip over.