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Plastic Ropes & Cables

The popular plastic ropes we supply are made of PP (Polypropylene), Nylon, Polyester. 

POLYPROPYLENE ROPES: Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer turning to a liquid when heated and freezing to a very glassy state when cooled sufficiently. Polypropylene is rugged and unusually resistant to solvents, bases and acids and has a melting point of 170°Centigrade. Its usual appearance is as a coarse bristle, or tape like coloured fiber, often yellow, black, or orange. Polypropylene is sometimes also offered as fine white fiber.

Polypropylene is normally tough and flexible, reasonably economical, often opaque or colored using pigments. In addition Polypropylene has good resistance to fatigue. Polypropylene has a specific gravity of .91 (water is 1) and therefore is lighter than water and floats. Because it floats polypropylene is the rope of choice when used in the water. Polypropylene ropes are used extensively in the fishing and marine industries. Because it floats, it is not likely to get tangled in a motor propeller. Polypropylene is not one unique material but rather a range of plastics with a range of characteristics depending on the crystal form and the exact chemical composition. The melting point and flow rate depends on the molecular weight. 

Polypropylene experiences chain degradation from exposure to heat and UV radiation such as that present in sunlight. Degraded polypropylene ropes become chalky looking and as strands on the outside break, it becomes fuzzier and discouloured. For external applications, UV-absorbing additives are being used. Dyes and Carbon Black provide protection from UV damage. Also anti-oxidants are added to prevent polymer degradation. Polypropylene ropes are made either from continuous monofilament similar to but slightly thicker than polyester and nylon or chopped into shorter strands which get twisted like natural fibers. Sometimes they are made of a thicker monofilament, resembling straw or bristles, typically 0.1 to 0.15 mm diameter. In this form it may either be a continuous fibre, or it may be cut into short lengths and then processed like natural fibres to form staple yarn. It can be used where the look of natural rope is desirable but the advantages of synthetic structure are useful.

Another form of polypropylene resembles a thin tape, typically 0.06 to 0.1 mm thick which is sometimes twisted so it appears to be a circular fibre. The tape may be split so it appears to be a collection of small flat fibres which cling to each other.

Polypropylene plastic ropes are often white, black, yellow or orange. Colouring helps prevent UV degradation. Polypropylene, nylon and polyester fibres are almost impossible to separate by appearance but polypropylene is usually slightly thicker and stiffer.

Advantages of Polypropylene Ropes

  • They FLOAT. This and the fact that they have some stretch makes polypropylene ropes a good water rope

  • It is lightweight and easier to handle in thicker diameters.

  • It is INEXPENSIVE compared to other ropes.

  • Its INERT when exposed to most chemicals and solvents. It resists acid, bases and solvents well.

  • Resists rotting and mildew.

  • It is made into tan coloured traditional looking ropes that appeal to Wooden and Traditional Boat enthusiasts. Those types are more expensive however.

Disadvantages of Polypropylene Ropes

  • Not the Strongest rope around. Polypropylene ropes are not recommended as safety ropes which might be exposed to high stresses.

  • Polypropylene is sensitive to UV degradation and will become brittle and weak if left in the sun for long periods.

  • It is stretchy, about half of what nylon is. 10-15%

  • Polypropylene is stiff and slippery and is notorious for coming undone because it slips out of knots and cleats. Special knots had to be developed to cope with this problem.

Polypropylene is sometimes added to ropes in combination with other fibers to make a hybrid rope that floats, but has better strength and UV resistance.

NYLON (POLYAMIDE) ROPES: Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides. Nylon has Specific Gravity: 1.13 (Nylon does not float), Polyamide is durable and strong with excellent abrasion resistance, Nylon will stretch a lot before breaking, it is quite elastic and a good shock absorber. Therefore Nylon ropes are a good choice for dynamic loads such as towing and anchoring. Nylon melts instead of burning, has good strength to weight ratio​. Polyamide (nylon) has Maximum Temperature of 210°F / 99°C, Minimum Temperature of -94°F -70°C. Its Melting Point is 420°F 216°C and Tensile Strength is 5,800 psi. The UV resistance of Nylon is good. Dry polyamide is a good electrical insulator, however because it absorbs water, the electrical conduction properties of Nylon can change when it is wet, it has good resistance to Oil and Organic Solvents, Formaldehyde and Alcohols, however it has poor resistance to Phenols, Alkalis, Iodine, Acids and Chlorine. Nylon is resistant to insects, fungi, animals, as well as molds, mildew and rotting. The safe loading of a nylon rope is 1/10 to 1/12 of its breaking strength. However keep in mind that knots, age, wear and chemicals weaken a rope. Nylon rope is usually made from long extruded mono-filament and comes either braided or twisted. 

Nylon ropes can be made from thicker or thinner strands which will affect its feel, stiffness and appearance. Nylon ropes can be very soft and easy to handle, or quite harsh to the touch.

Nylon ropes can be dyed and are available in many colors. Some nylon ropes are available with water repelling coatings that reduce water absorption and loss of strength.

Advantages of nylon ropes:

  • Nylon can be made to be very lustrous, semilustrous or dull and can be made quite soft to the touch.

  • Nylon (Polyamide) has good UV resistance

  • Nylon ropes are relatively inexpensive.

  • Nylon ropes are quite resistant to solvents and oil, but not so much against strong bases and acid.

  • Polyamide resists rot and mildew but can stain particularly in water soluble stains.

  • Nylon doesn't burn

  • Nylon is strong  with good abrasion resistance

  • Nylon is elastic and stretches between 15% to 40%. 

Disadvantages of nylon ropes:

  • Nylon ropes sink

  • They Release harmful chemicals when degradation occurs in high heat.

  • Because nylon is quite stretchy, nylon ropes are not suitable where a line needs dimentional stability such as rigging.

  • Nylon has been known to shrink and because of this it is usually heat set.

  • Nylon loses strength when wet, Sometimes as much as 20% of its dry strength.

  • If nylon is repeatedly cycled at high percentage of its breaking strength, it generates a large amount of internal heat, which degrades its performance and can cause failure at high loads, such as anchoring rodes during a storm. 

POLYESTER ROPES: Polyester is widely used as sail material because it combines good strength and durability, relatively low stretch and reasonable prices. Polyester fibres are very fine, typically about 0.023 mm in diameter. These fibres are mostly white. It is virtually impossible to distinguish between nylon and polyester by appearance alone. Polyester has a specific gravity of 1.38 and therefore polyester ropes DO NOT float. Polyester is very strong, and has a similar tensile strength to Nylon 6, and is slightly stronger than standard Nylon. Contrary to Nylon (Polyamide) and Polypropylene, Polyester does not easily stretch. Usually any stretch present in Polyester is minimized by pre-stretching during the manufacturing process. Polyester ropes have low creep under load. Unlike Nylon, Polyester retains its strength even when wet. Melting Point is 240 °C. and varies with composition, UV resistance is Excellent. Polyester ropes will only lose about 10% of their breaking strength after 2 years of outdoor use, if not cut or severely abraded. Polyester ropes have excellent abrasion resistance and are electrically non conductive. They have good resistance to Alkalis and Acids at room temperature. At elevated temperatures, the resistance decreases. Polyester ropes have also excellent resistance to Petroleum based products, Bleaches and Solvents, even though some degradation and weakening will occur.

Advantages of Polyester Ropes:

  • Good chemical resistance at regular temperatures

  • Excellent UV resistance

  • Polyester is slightly stronger than Nylon and contrary to nylon it does not lose strength when wet.

  • Low Stretch

  • Polyester is stiffer than Nylon

  • Polyester ropes are well suited to static loads

  • Economical and widely available.

 

Disadvantages of Polyester Ropes:

  • Polyester ropes do not float.

  • Some braids of polyester are quite stiff and don't work very well in blocks.

  • Polyester is not suitable if the load is subject to jerking. It does not give as nylon does and in such applications polyester might only be used as the outside protective layer.

UHMWPE ROPES: Also called high-performance polyethylene (HPPE), Ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE or shortened to UHMW), also known as high-performance polyethylene (HPPE). 

UHMWPE has extremely long molecular chains with no groups sticking out of the molecule. This gives no easy attack point for chemical interactions and attacks. The long molecules are extremely strong particularly after being aligned by stretching. Since it does not interact with other substances, it is not attracted to water, and doesn't stick to anything including hands, and resists attachment by micro organisms. UHMWPE ropes It do not absorb water.  They are not weakened when wet as nylon is. Melting point is around 144 to 152 °C (291 to 306 °F) This is quite low compared to many ropes intended for marine use. Also HMPE feels very slippery to the hand, has a density of as little as 0.95 and floats on Sea Water. Polyethylene is subject to creep under continuous load, even though it is stong. It is twice as strong as hardened steel (per unit area), has a very low coefficient of friction, has great abrasion resistance, it is self-lubricating, has good UV resistance, low elasticity. Unlike Nylon UHMWPE does not stretch much.

High-strength steels have comparable yield strengths, and low-carbon steels have yield strengths much lower. However, since steel has a specific gravity of around 7.8, this gives strength-to-weight ratios for these materials in a range from 10 to 100 times higher than steel. Strength-to-weight ratios for some brands are about 40% higher than for aramids such as Kevlar. In other words, UHMWPE has one of the highest strength to weight ratios of any man made fibers. 

UHMWPE ropes have excellent vibration damping, flexing fatigue and internal fiber-friction. 

UHMWPE ropes are suitable for high-performance sails and rigging in yachting. Having low stretch assures the sails retain an optimal shape and a brilliant white appearance with exceptional resistance to abrasion. The useful life exceeds that of other material many times over.

UHMWPE is also used in armours, cut-resistant gloves and clothing, climbing equipment, fishing lines, suspension lines on sport parachutes and paragliders, kites, and kite lines, rip-stop reinforcement for luggage fabric...and more. Because UHMWPE rope floats in Seawater it is used for ships mooring lines and as tow lines for boats of every size. It is considerably lighter than steel of equal weight so it often replaces metal ropes, it is used for lifting slings and cables.

Advantages of UHMWPE Ropes:

  • They are very strong with a high strength to weight ratio. (Strengths as high as 350,000 psi). Strength is not affected by water

  • Most versions are light enough to float. 

  • UV Stable

  • Low electrical conductivity

  • They are chemically inert except against strong oxidizing acids

  • Smooth and slippery, self lubricating

  • Resistance to fatigue, internal friction and abrasion

  • Low stretching, good vibration damping

  • Transparent to radar

Disadvantages of UHMWPE Ropes:

  • Low Melting point 144 to 152 °C (291 to 306 °F) and even lower recommended use (less than 80°C)

  • Subject to Creep under tensile load. Various mixtures help address this problem in rigging applications.

  • Because of its slippery nature it does not hold knots very well. 

  • Rope layers can distort and twist because of the low friction.

  • Difficult to cut smoothly because it is so slippery and resistant.

  • 4-5 times more expensive than polyester ropes.

The safe loading of a rope is often 1/10 to 1/12 of its breaking strength. Keep in mind that knots weaken a rope (50-80% reduction) as does age, wear, chemical attack etc.

ARAMID (KEVLAR / TWARON / TECHNORA) ROPES: 

Aramid ropes offer high strength, high modulus (stiffness), toughness and thermal stability. Kevlar's low resistance to shock however, limits its use on boats and for climbing. Once an Aramid rope has been subject to sharp impact or shock, it can be seriously compromised without showing any exterior damage. Therefore, its marine use should be limited to static loads. The aligned crystal structure in the fiber and long molecule chains contribute to the strength of Kevlar. Unlike UHMWPE, Kevlar (Aramid) is a polar molecule. Due to its polar structure it will be easier for some substances to bond to it. This makes it more susceptible to chemical attack than UHMWPE but on the positive side allows it to be bonded to epoxy. Due to its polar molecules, Kevlar is attracted to water and will wet easily. This results in a less slippery feel. Fibers of KEVLAR consist of long molecular and highly oriented chains with strong interchain bonding which result in a unique combination of properties. Kevlar ropes offer high cut resistance, high tensile strength of 2920 MPa, critical temperature of 400°F, decomposition at 800°F, flame resistant, self-extinguishing nature, high chemical resistance except to Chlorine, Strong Acids and Bases, low Thermal Shrinkage and it does not become brittle at very low temperatures. Kevlar has a specific gravity of 1.44, is subject to UV degradation, will absorb moisture, offers excellent dimensional stability, elongation at break is low 1.5-4.5%, no electrical conductivity, high toughness (Work-To-Break), damage prone to shock loads. Different formulations, manufacturing processes and coatings are applied to Aramids. This will change properties to some degree. As an example, waterproofing is commonly applied to Kevlar guywires to prevent water absorption and possible electrical conduction of lightning.

 

Advantages of Aramid Ropes:

  • Very high tensile strength with a high strength to weight ratio. Strength is not affected by water but it can absorb moisture because of its polar molecular structure.

  • Great resistance to heat, burning, and thermal degradation

  • Normally not electrically conductive, however if wet it can conduct electricity.

  • Chemically stable except against strong acids and bases and chlorine

  • Low stretching property

  • Tough and difficult to cut or abrade.

Disadvantages of Aramid, Kevlar Twaron Ropes:

  • Does not float

  • Expensive

  • Compressive properties are relatively poor

  • Difficult to cut without fraying

  • Moisture absorbing

  • Kevlar tends to fuzz.

  • Kevlar can be invisibly damaged by shock loads. It can fail catastrophically.

  • Aramids such as Kevlar and Technora require special terminators and attachment to maintain strength.

PRICE: Depends on model and quantity of order

Since we carry a wide variety of plastic ropes with different dimensions, applications and material; it is impossible to list them all here. We encourage you to email or call us so we can determine which product is the best fit for you. When contacting us, please make sure to inform us about:

- Application for the plastic ropes

 

- Material grade needed

 

- Dimensions

 

- Finish

 

- Packaging requirements

 

- Labeling requirements

 

- Quantity

Download our product brochures for plastic ropes from the following links:

- Synthetic Ropes

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