Webbing, narrow fabric slimmer than 12 inches in width, is a versatile material used for a number of applications, the most common being luggage and straps. Though there are many materials frequently utilized for webbing, nylon and polypropylene are perhaps the most common.
Originally produced on February 28, 1935 by Wallace Corothers, nylon has a highly compacted molecular structure that accounts for its durability and use in straps, cords, and fabrics. With a melting point of 450 degrees Fahrenheit, nylon is extremely strong and resistant to UV, mildew, abrasion, alkalis, oil, and grease. However, it has low resistance to acids. It sinks in water and expands slightly when wet. As a result, it is often chosen for marine and outdoor applications. Nylon is also used to make D rings, fasteners often used to fasten boats to docks and trees, because it does not rust.
Polypropylene is often mistaken for nylon, but can easily be distinguished when placed in water because of its ability to float. With a melting point of only 320 degrees Fahrenheit, it is less heat resistant than nylon webbing, but shares nylon’s resistance to UV, mildew, alkalis, oils, and greases. It is less resistant, however, to abrasion, and more resistant to acids. Polypropylene is stretchier than nylon, does not absorb water, and is generally less expensive. Polypropylene webbing is preferred for battery tie-downs or in other situations in which contact with acids is possible. It is also popular in the sports industry for hiking, rock climbing, and camping gear because of its water resistance and flotation.
Both nylon and polypropylene have their advantages for use in webbing and straps because of their durability and high levels of resistance to many outside factors. If you’re planning to purchase straps for use as tie downs, towing, or any other application, consider the use to which you’ll be putting them before selecting a material. Price might look like the only major difference, but each material has its own sensitivities and strengths. The best way to guarantee the success of your project is to choose the materials best suited to it. Read more.