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Polypropylene- Is it different from Polyethylene?

Posted by Nana Hinsley on Sun, May 01, 2016 @ 01:01

How is Polypropylene different from Polyethylene? Well.....

polyprop structure resized 600Poluethylene structure resized 600

Polypropylene, also know as polypropene is a form of plastic just as polyethylene is. What separates polypropylene from polyethylene for starters is the fact that polypropylene can be molded in essence becoming pliable above a certain temperature. When it cools it will return to its solid state. Polypropylene can be used not only as a structural plastic, but it can be used as a fiber. It also has a high melting point, which differentiates it from polyethylene. One area where polyethylene has over polypropylene is that polyethylene is more stable. Polypropylene has the advantage that it can take repeated motions such as being a hinge.  A hinge made out of polypropylene can be opened and closed many many times, and hold up just fine. This is known as having "good resistance to fatigue".

Polypropylene can be combined with other materials, as can polyethylene. Rubber for example can be added, to make it more pliable.  One of the exciting additives that is added to polypropylene are minerals. These minerals allow a polypropylene sheet to become a synthetic paper.  synthetic paper is essentially plastic paper.  It can be easily printed on. It can be folded, hot stamped, die cut, sewn and more.  Best of all it is environmentally friendly! All of a sudden polypropylene is transformed into a slew of products. Synthetic paper made from polypropylene is used to make banners, membership cards, maps, menus, phone cards, signs, tags, floor graphics, counter mats, and booklets. The list goes on from here!  What is outstanding about synthetic paper is that is is durable, tear and water resistant!

Polyethylene has more demand however than polypropylene. Polypropylene is used extensively in the automotive industry as well as the packaging industry. 70% of the polypropylene  uses is for packaging needs for the food industry. It can be made into bottles, food containers, food crates and pallets.

Polypropylene is used to make house wears, appliances and toys. It is also used to make make carpeting and upholstery. The polypropylene is heated and made into fibers. There are so many uses for both polypropylene and polyethylene.

Polyethylene is inert, translucent and creates a lower static charge than polypropylene. That makes polyethylene a candidate to be a sleeve to house collectible documents.  It is "inert" and cannot product mold or mildew.  It is also translucent in nature so it allows less light through it than polypropylene.  It has a lower static charge than polypropylene so it attracts less dust and dirt.  Polyethylene costs more than polpropylene because it has a higher purity (100% virgin).

Here is a list of some of the differences between polyethylene and polypropylene: 

  • Polyethylene and Polypropylene are very similar as far as physical properties.
  • However, Polypropylene can be produced optically clear where polyethylene can only be made translucent like a milk jug.
  • Polyethylene does have physical properties that allow it to stand up better in cold temperatures, particularly when using it as signs.
  • Polyethylene is a good electrical insulator. It offers good tracking resistance, however, it becomes easily electrostatically charged (which can be reduced by additions of graphite, carbon black or antistatic agents).
  • Polypropylenes are light in weight. They have a high resistance to cracking, acids, organic solvents and electrolytes. They also have high melting point and good dielectric properties and are non-toxic.
  •  Monomer of polyethylene is ethylene and monomer of polypropylene is propylene.
  • Polyethylene has a lower melting point compared to the higher melting point of polypropylene. (this may be a good test for you)
  • Polypropylene is not as sturdy as polyethylene.
  • Polypropylene is stiffer and resistant to chemicals and organic solvents compared to polyethylene.
  • Polypropylene is pure, non-stretching and generally more rigid than polyethylene.

Tags: polyethylene, polypropylene

Plastic Sheeting Terminology Explained

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Tue, Apr 26, 2016 @ 02:36

In the world of engineered plastic sheeting there are a variety of terms that are used freely in conversation and in the written word. Terms such as "low density polyethylene" or "Polyolefin vs Polyethylene". Below is a brief explanation of commonly used terms.

Low Density versus High Density- what's the difference?

HDPE.png  ldpe.jpg

 Question:  What is the difference between low density and high density polyethylene?

Answer: The biggest difference is how closely the molecules bond to each other in the structure of the product.  High density has a lot more molecules in the same amount of space.  This causes high density to have different qualities when compared to low density.  For instance, High density of the same thickness will be stronger, more puncture resistant, more tear resistant, tougher, stiffer, more chemical resistant, than a low density polyethylene made from the same grade of polyethylene. Low density polyethylene is a softer material, more pliable, more conforming.  These are general types of polyethylene.  Within each type there are varying quality levels, additives, and much more science to vary the products from their natural states to give them the qualities needed for the applications.

 There are many reasons why one might be used in a given application, compared to using the other.  Call866.597.9298 if you would like a further explanation. 

Plastic Classifications

Question:  What are all the classifications of plastic?

Answer:  Polyethylene is classified into several different categories based mostly on its density and branching.

  • Ultra high molecular weight polyethylene(UHMWPE)
  • Ultra low molecular weight polyethylene(ULMWPE or PE-WAX)
  • High molecular weight polyethylene(HMWPE)
  • High density polyethylene(HDPE)
  • High density cross-linked polyethylene(HDXLPE)
  • Cross-linked polyethylene(PEX or XLPE)
  • Medium density polyethylene(MDPE)
  • Linear low density polyethylene(LLDPE)
  • Low density polyethylene(LDPE)
  • Very low density polyethylene(VLDPE)

Polyolefin and Polyethylene- What's the difference

  1. What is the difference betweenPolyolefin and Polyethylene?
  2. Polyolefin is a material that is made of only carbon and hydrogen atoms. When the Polyolefin molecule is bonded in a more complex manner, then you have a variety of materials made from the polyolefin material.Polyolefin materials such as polyethylene, polypropylene and polybutene have more complex olefin branches than simple polyolefin. 

For example, Polybutene is a liquid polymer used in sealants, synthetic rubber and lubricants.  Polyethylene is used to make products like shrink wrap, and a variety of plastic sheeting products.  Polypropylene is a hard resin used in carpeting, food packaging and electronics. Don't be confused if a plastic sheeting product is referred to as a "polyolefin". Saying it is a polyolefin does not imply it is a superior plastic. After all, now you know that plastic sheeting is made up of Polyolefin.

How do you measure a mil?

Question:  How do you measure a mil?

Answer:  For plastic sheeting, the industry uses an instrument called a micrometer.

How thick is a mil and what is it?

Question:  How thick is a mil and what is it?

Answer:  A mil is a unit of length equal to one thousandth (10-3) of an inch (0.0254 millimeter). It is used in the plastic sheeting world to define the thickness of the film.    

1 mil    = 0.001 in

1 mil    = 0.0254 mm

1 mil    = 25.40μ (microns)

Another way to look at it is, 20 mils = .508 mm which is thinner than the thickness of a dime (10 cents) which is rougly 1.24461mm.

GRI- what does it stand for?

Question:  What does GRI stand for regarding 12 mil polyethylene sheeting or various vapor barriers/retarders?  The Geosynthetic Research Institute.

For example you might see, GRI=GM22 standard specification which is a test method that specifies the required properties and testing frequencies for scrim reinforced polyethylene geomembranes that are used in an exposed (out doors) application. It establishes minimum physical, mechanical and durability properties that must be met.  The GRI GM22 cover scrim reinforced poly geomembranes in thicknesses of 0.50 mm (20 mil), and 0.20mm (8 mil). This spec represents manufacturing quality control (MCQ).

For more information please visit the GRI's website.

5 Reasons Why an Engineered BlackOut Cover is Better for Light Dep

Posted by Team SolaWrap and the Green Thumbs. on Mon, Apr 25, 2016 @ 01:46

The goal of creating a light dep greenhouse is nothing new. But what is the most cost effective and labor efficient solution to achieve complete darkness in a greenhouse? Will regular black plastic work as well as an engineered film? Engineered film is plastic sheeting what has additives and is manufactured in a way to make it superior to regular plastic sheeting. It’s a special recipe/ formula specifically for the purpose it is designed to fill.

A light dep blackout tarp/film that is stronger (won’t rip or tear easily) than regular black tarps, and lasts longer in the sun is a noble goal. Enter our engineered film- built to our specifications.

Ultra Blackout tarp achieves the following goals:

  1. Strength:  To achieve a stronger, tear resistant cover you can either add string reinforcement, or you can make it thicker- much thicker. But making it thicker makes it heavier and much harder to move and work with. By adding a layer of diamond scrim between two layers of plastic you get a strong tarp that is easy to work with.
  2. Longevity: Withstands being outdoors in the sun: Most run of the mill black plastic literally decomposes when the sun hits it day after day. By engineering the film and adding a UV additive, this same black plastic, now can have a longer life in the sun. Ultra Blackout greenhouse tarp has an 18 month U.V. guarantee!
  3. Complete darkness: Ultra Blackout is manufactured to be devoid of pin holes.
  4. Optimal Colors: Black on one side, white on the other: The white side of the film serves to reflect much of the light entering the greenhouse and improves the light conditions within the growing area. During the long, low-light winter months this is an added benefit. Putting the white side as the top surface reflects the heat and helps maintain an environment with even heat distribution and lower energy costs. The black side on the inside creates a dark environment.
  5. Meets Measured Test Criteria: Ultra Blackout has the tests to prove it meets standards that have been measured and tested. This insures you get what you pay for and can have a greenhouse blackout tarp that makes you life easier and more profitable.

Greenhouse Covers AKA Blackout Greenhouse Tarps for Light Dep

Posted by Team SolaWrap and the Green Thumbs. on Mon, Apr 18, 2016 @ 11:04

“Light Dep” is a term used for “light deprivation”. It is the use of blackout greenhouse tarps also called, “greenhouse covers” to block the light from entering the greenhouse. By scheduling the blackouts- a photoperiod- the grower is essentially tricking the crop into thinking it is fall so they produce a potent flower. This results in buds that are ready for market earlier than is traditionally possible.


Cannabis like many flowering plants product chemicals called hormones. These hormones signal the cells of the plant to respond to light.  Many flowering plants bloom because of light sensitive compounds that respond to the length of night. The plant’s reaction to the reduced sunlight is called, “photoperiodism”.  While most people know that light is an important component for photosynthesis in plants, few recognize that plant sensitivity to light is instrumental in the structural development or morphogenesis.  Photomorphogenesis is the use of light to control the structural development in plants.

 The Use of Blackout Greenhouse Tarps- Why are they important?

The dark cycle plays an important role in the flowering cycle of cannabis.  Botanists refer to cannabis as a “short day plant”.  This means that a cannabis plant, or any short day plant, will not flower until the day is shorter than the night.  While these plants are referred to as short day plants, the light cycle is not as important to the flowering process for cannabis as the dark cycle. This is where a blackout curtain or tarp comes in.  What triggers the flowering cycle is the length of uninterrupted darkness which the plant instinctually measures. What’s even more amazing is the fact that the cannabis plant is so sensitive to light, that even if you gave it a brief period of light, that will stop the plenty from flowering. A bright moon can even slow down the rate at which a plant flowers. This is why a greenhouse blackout tarp or curtain is essential to have complete control of the growing environment.

Tags: Greenhouse film, blackout tarp,

Greenhouse Plastic- What is That?

Posted by Team SolaWrap and the Green Thumbs. on Wed, Mar 23, 2016 @ 11:53

People throw around different terms when they are referring to greenhouse covers. We hope to clarify what is meant by the terms you may hear when you are talking about a greenhouse structure.

Greenhouse Plastic:  The term, "greenhouse plastic" is a term to describe polyethylene, copolymer plastic, polyvinyl plastic or polycarbonate plastic that is used to cover the roof and/or sides of a greenhouse. It is a general term since there are several different forms of plastic to cover a greenhouse. The term "greenhouse plastic" is a broader term than "greenhouse film".


  Starting with polyethylene, a common greenhouse film used is 6 mil polyethylene. This is a smooth plastic that is placed on the roof of the greenhouse to protect the plants inside from the elements.  It is an economical choice which will require replacement usually in 1-4 years. 


There is a second type of greenhouse plastic called, Solawap Film.


This polyethylene greenhouse film has a layer of bubble which serve to insulate and diffuse the light.  This film is more expensive than 6 mil poly- but it is much stronger, and lasts at last check over 30 years in some places.  Colpolymer Plastic is an upgrade to 6  mil poly since it is a little more durable and can last longer.  Polyvinyl is the clear plastic one often sees on boats as windows. It is quite strong and thicker than 6 mil poly.

Another form of greenhouse plastic is polycarbonate. 


This is a hard piece of plastic  that comes in sheets and is added to the greenhouse. For the most part you can find greenhouse plastic for sale on line at specialty greenhouse supply houses. You can also find greenhouse film at Home Depot or Lowes. 

Greenhouse Panels: A greenhouse panel is another name for a polycarbonate sheet of plastic that is used to cover a greenhouse.  Some greenhouse panels are flat, and others are wavy.  They are strong and  designed to withstand the elements better than their cousin the 6 mil poly film.

Greenhouse Kits:  What materials are used  for greenhouse kits? Today there are many different types of greenhouses that come in a kit. They can be made from plastic, glass or poly carbonate.  they come in all different shapes, sizes and cost points. And where will you find a greenhouse kit? Often the big box stores such as Home Depot or Lowes may carry greenhouse kits.

Greenhouse Plans:  Some folks like to DIY- Do it yourself with a set of greenhouse plans. In this case deciding on what kind of greenhouse you want will require you to know what materials you want the greenhouse to be made from.  Which greenhouse plastic will you select? Will you go with 6 mil plastic sheeting, Solawrap film, or a harder cover made from polycarbonate? 

Greenhouse growing is a great way to grow a wide variety of plants. Just decide on the greenhouse plastic that will best suit your budget and your environment and enjoy the fruits and vegetables of you labor!

What If Plastic Was Banned in the U.S.? Would the Environment be Better off?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Fri, Feb 19, 2016 @ 02:20

Hypothetically, how would our lives be impacted if plastic were banned in the U.S.?  Would we have a cleaner, safer environment? Depending on the source, it is estimated that we use more than 260 million tons of plastic each year. Much of this plastic ends up in our oceans. Somewhere between 60-80% of the total debris in the oceans is made up of plastic materials. The danger lies in the toxins that are leaching out of the plastic into the oceans threatening ocean life. The same goes for plastic material breaking down in landfills leaching harmful chemicals into the ground water.

Plastic Bags in The Grocery Store:


Why are so many plastic bags dispensed in stores? The obvious reason is cost.  Bags costs 2-4 cents per bag. It's a pretty inexpensive and handy way to get a multitude of items from one place to the next for the consumer.  The folks at Bag the Ban state on their website that plastic bags are the most environmentally friendly option for stores. They are 100% recyclable and actually put less of a burden on the environment because they require less natural resources to produce and transport.

Did you know that American plastic bags are made from natural gas not oil? Yes, 85% of the raw material used to make plastic bags is produced from natural gas.

What about global warming? Some information from the U.K. Environmental Agency suggests that it would take 7.5 years of using the same cloth bag going to the grocery store once a week before it's a better option for the environment than a plastic bag reused 3 times.

Getting back to the premise of this article, if plastic was banned from the U.S. we would be putting our purchases in paper bags or cloth bags.  That is itself does not constitute a huge inconvenience. What we don't think about is that cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world! These pesticides kill and harm many people yearly. Chemical defoliants (A chemical sprayed or dusted on plants to cause the leaves to fall off.) used in cotton harvesting also take a toll on the environment and human health. These chemicals typically remain in the fabric after finishing, and are released during the lifetime of the garment. 

Once the cloth bag is made, if it is bleached or dyed for aesthetic appeal water usage soars.  As the bag is washed, the dye can end up in rivers and treatment plants- yet another problem for the environment.

Plastic Used In Packaging

Why is so much plastic used in packaging our foods?  Plastics offer a combination of flexibility (both rigid and flexible), strength, lightness, impermeability, stability and ease of sterilization. Plastics food packaging does not affect the taste and quality of the foodstuff.  It actually offers an effective barrier that ensures that food keeps its natural taste while protecting it from contamination.  Plastic is so versatile that it can go from packaging fresh meat as well as oils and bottle beverages.  Add to that the fact that plastic weights a lot less than say glass or metal.  Lighter packaging means less transportation energy needed, and therefore less emissions.  So conceivably, if plastic went away in the food industry, would our oceans be cleaner but our air and run-off from roads be more toxic? Would we be replacing the toxins from plastic leaching in the ocean with gas and oil run-off in our body of water and air?


If plastic was not used in packaging foods, would we be able to see what was in the container? If glass containers were used, we could see the food, but the container would take up more space in the store, thus needing addional refrigeration space which would tax the environment. 

Plastic Used in Building Construction

What if plastic pipes were no longer available to use in homes? What if plastic was removed from insulation, window frames, and interior materials?  Copper piping has replaced pipes in many homes and construction projects.  Both plastic and copper leach potentially harmful things into the water. So if plastic pipes were gone, much heavier copper pipes would be used, which would incur higher transportation costs, and installation costs. Plastic pipes can bend for an easier installation situation.

Plastic Used in Transportation (Cars, Planes, Boats, etc)

Automobile manufacturers have a balancing act to contend with when they are designing a car.  They want fuel efficiency and strength; economically feasible pricing and reliability all with minimal environmental  impact. This is where plastic has the advantages.  Plastic components weigh 50 percent less than similar components made from other materials- which equates to 25-35% improvement in fuel economy.  Lighter cars means less carbon dioxide emissions over the operating life of the vehicle. Bumpers, seat belts, airbags and shock absorbers have made be strides by utilizing plastic.


The aerospace industry had embraced plastic designs to increase fuel efficiency, weight reduction while offering safety. Plastic went away, our planes would return to the planes of years gone by. On the surface it seems like plastic offers an advantageous solution.

Plastic Used In Electrical and Electronics

Plastic is used extensively in the electronics sector from phones, headsets, to wire to carrying current. Plastic parts make these items weigh less and consume less energy.  The invisible resource efficiency effect takes place as a result of using plastic parts. Plastic_headphones.jpg

Plastic has the ability to isolate electrical currency, combined with their resistance to mechanical shocks and stress as well as flexibility and durability, makes them ideal for vital applications such as safe, reliable and efficient power supplies.  Without plastic in life, would we have the used of these products?

Agriculture and Plastic

No doubt about it, growing crops wouldn't be where it is today if we couldn't use various forms of plastic for greenhouses. Miles and miles of greenhouse structures cover our world filled with crops to feed society.plastic_greenhoue.jpg


  What types of plastic are used for greenhouse growing? Polyolefin, Polyethylene (PE), Polypropylene (PP), Ethylene-Vinyl Accetate Copolymer (EVA), Poly-vinyl chloride (PVC) and, in less frequently, Polycarbonate (PC) and poly-methyl-methacrylate (PMMA).. These plastics allow water to be saved, heat to be retained, and plants to grow in the off season.  Best of all, greenhouse plastic can be recycled and made into outdoor furniture, etc.


Growing Applications:

Plastic makes terrific greenhouse covers.  Plastic is used for mulching by maintaining humidly and reducing evaporation.  The heat also makes for ideal environment for the plant's root, while keeping weeds from growing.

Plastic liners are often used for making reservoirs, ponds, and storing water. It is used to store animal's grains and straw during the winter and are used for silage storage.  If plastic was not available for these applications, big barns would have to be erected, and a great deal of efficiency would be lost.

The list of items containing plastic goes on and on. Here is a partial list:






Food Packaging

Food Packaging

Nonfood Packaging


Recording Film

Nonfood Packaging

Nonfood Packaging

Food Packaging



Shrink Wrap

Stretch Wrap

Grocery Sacks



Stretch Wrap

Carryout Bags

Other Retail Bags



Carryout Bags

Trash and Can Liners

Trash Bags and Liners



Trash and Can Liners







Root Barriers





Pond Liners



Solawrap Greenhouse Connectors/ Extrusion System

Posted by Team SolaWrap and the Green Thumbs. on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 @ 03:09


Today we are going to talk about our extrusions (extrusion connectors/ extrusion tracking system). We get a lot of calls- what is it made of? Is it aluminum? Many years ago it used to be aluminum- Solawrap greenhouses have been in Europe over 30 years now. Now it's made out of a highly engineered PVC. We have two versions- one for hot weather, and one for cold weather. Each are designed for their specific environment. We want to make sure our extrusions last as long, if not longer than our films. We expect about a 20 - 30 year lifespan on these materials.


As you can see from a cross section view, it has two channels. Our Solawrap film has channels on both sides. This is exactly how it will go into your structure. The other questions that arises is, are your extrusions flexible? And they are flexible. The channels don't close, and it creates a nice smooth entry point for adding the films. If you have any questions regarding our connectors/ material- feel free to give us a call at Global Plastic Sheeting, or Solawrap 855 765- 2872

Stockosorb 660 By Evonik- Relief for Drought Conditions

Posted by Team SolaWrap and the Green Thumbs. on Mon, Feb 15, 2016 @ 02:53


The product that we are featuring today is the Stockosorb 660 comes in a dry format. It is available in the retail packs (Terra Moist) in 1,5, and 15 pound bags. On the commercial side we can give it to you in a super sack which is 150 pounds or 55 pound bags for your convenience. What it does is it hydrates and hold nutrition for your plants. So in traditional farming when you water, the water will trickle through the soil and go past the roots and disappear. What Stockosorb 660 will do is it will hold the water in little pocket cells so the roots of your plants can seek them out and tap in to them. What that does is a couple of things. It will reduce stress on your plants when you have a problem with water supply. Second, you will always have a water supply so even the hair roots will continue to be able to draw water, and not just die off when the water supply disappears. Also in California where we have drought situations, it can reduce your watering requirement to up to 50%.

You may be wondering if it is safe. When it breaks down to its natural components (this product is not applied topically- it has to be mixed into the soil) It will break down into potassium oxide, carbon dioxide, and water at the end of its life. It actually helps your plants. Unlike other products in the market, like for example diapers- don't use that product. What that is designed to do is to soak up liquids or hydrate and not release the liquid. It is the compete opposite of Stockosorb 660. Stockosorb 660/ Terra Moist will hydrate and time release the water as your plants need it.

The application is very simple depending on the crop. You may call us and tell us if you are open field, greenhouse, growing in pots, or have somewhat of a hydro systems- just tell us your situation confidentially and we will help you design the proper usage of Terra Moist/ Stockosorb 660 for your particular grow.

Basically you take water and hydrate the Terra Moist, and let it grow. That was a bit much for the sake of the video we want to show you how it works. As you can see it is already starting to grow. What you will see in the market are all types of hydrogels. The difference is- what it breaks down to, and how fast it hydrates.
Our product hydrates at a much slower rate because the structure is there. The more structure, the slower it will hydrate. Because of that it has a longer lifespan. Those super hydrogel that have less structure hydrate incredibly fast they also break down incredibly fast. We found in our studies, depending on your growing style, the amount of water and the conditions, you are looking at 3 to 5 years
per application- open field or greenhouse. Another nice note is, if you add it to your soil mix, and you have a situation where you don't have water, your plants aren't going to die off.

Evonik Stockosorb 660 / Terra Moist will save you on water, nutrition, and we will give you a better plant. If you would like a sample, email us at or talk to one of our distributors. We are available for any questions that you might have. Thank you. 855 SOLA USA Please view part 2. It shows you the product after it has absorbed water. You will learn more about this incredible water saving solution.





Tags: Evonik STOCKOSORB 660 hydrogel

Burn Baby Burn...Is Plastic Sheeting Fire Resistant?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Fri, Nov 13, 2015 @ 11:53

Is plastic sheeting flame resistant? No...  Can plastic sheeting be flame resistant? Again, no.  Not if you adhere to the definition that differentiates flame resistant and flame retardant, or fire retardant.

It's a bit tricky because more often than not, flame resistant and flame retardant are used interchangeably.  Here is the minute difference.

Flame resistant fabrics (notice the word "plastic" is missing here) are fabrics that are inherently flame resistant by their chemical nature.  If a fire is lit under a flame resistant fabric, it will prevent the spread of fire. They may burn, but they will burn slowly, and often self-extinguish.

Fire or flame retardant plastic (plastic sheeting) and fibers, are items which by themselves will burn if a flame is placed on it.  What makes some fabrics and plastics fire retardant is the special fire retardant chemicals that are either added to the  polymer while it is being formulated, or treated with these chemicals, which then makes the fabric or plastic fire retardant.  

Plastic sheeting made from polyethylene will burn big time when hit by flames.  The only saving grace to slow the fire is if the polyethylene is treated with a fire retardant chemical. Since plastic/ polyethylene is made from oil, it can really make a fire become a big fire in a hurry it ti's not treated with and FR additive.

Better safe than sorry- FR plastic is the way to go to be safe.

Tags: 2 FR

Is Plastic Strapping Poly Strapping?

Posted by The Plastic Sheeting Gurus! on Thu, Nov 12, 2015 @ 12:56

What is Strapping?


What do we mean when we speak of “strapping”?  Strapping is defined for this article as a flat material that is most often used for bundling and banding items to hold them in place. Strapping is also used to fasten or reinforce products. Strapping is used in agriculture, construction, shipping, packaging, lumber yards, and just about anywhere items need to be held together (contained) with something more than twine or string. There are different kinds of strapping- Steel strapping, plastic strapping, woven poly strapping....Is plastic strapping also called, poly strapping?

Steel Strapping

Steel strapping is the winner when you talk about time on the market.  From what we can find, steel strapping, also called “steel banding”, was introduced in the late 19th century. Today steel strapping is made by “rolling” the metal to literally flatten it.  There are two types of rolled metal- “hot rolling” and “cold rolling”.  If the temperature of the metal is above its recrystallization temperature, then the process is known as hot rolling. If the temperature of the metal is below its recrystallization temperature, the process is known as cold rolling. Steel strapping also comes in a variety of thicknesses and widths as well as variations in the grade of steel. The industry refers to the strengths as “regular duty” and “High Tensile”. Break strengths can go as high as 12,500 pounds. Regular Duty (RG) strapping is usually a low carbon steel strapping produced for low to medium duty applications, e.g., package reinforcement, unitizing, bundling palletizing and box closure. Regular duty steel strapping can be used in manual and pneumatic tools, as well as automatic steel strapping heads.  High Tensile (HT): A high carbon steel strapping that is heat treated to produce a product which combines high strength and elongation (stretch) for shock resistance.   Typical applications are unitizing compressed fiber bales, securing heavy steel coils and open top railcar and trailer loading.   High Tensile strapping provides more footage per coil than heavy duty sizes of comparable break strength.


Steel is used for holding heavy loads where strength and minimal stretch are desired.  Steel strapping also has different surface finishes.  Some of the finishes include paint, paint and wax, bluing or zinc (galvanized) and wax. Galvanized steel is a process where the steel is “hot-dipped” in molten zinc to prevent corrosion.


While steel banding had its advantages, it also has its disadvantages.  Some steel strapping if left untreated has the potential to rust, and thus stain the cargo which it is touching.  It can also tear and/or scratch the cargo. If a steel band is cut from a bundle in a careless manner, the steel band most likely will lash and cause deep bounds.  In addition, since steel banding coil weigh so much when compared to other banding materials, many people also get injured from loading these coils into a dispenser. Another consideration is the cost.  Not only is steel expensive, but with fluctuating markets, budgeting is erratic.


Steel strapping is a less than ideal solution if the bundle should settle and become smaller.  Steel banding will remain the same size and will no longer hold the cargo securely. The best time to use steel is when the pallet weights are excessive- 4000 pounds or more. If the load has sharp edges, is a non-compressed bundle, and you need the strap to be the package security.,


There are three types of “plastic strapping”. Let’s take a look at each one; polypropylene, polyester, and nylon. So to quickly answer the question, yes, plastic strapping and poly strapping are one in the same. It is how they are manufactured that makes the difference.

Polypropylene strapping is considered a light to medium duty strap. This economical option is best for light duty palletizing, unitizing, carton closing and bundling. It is used in all semi-automatic strappers and nearly all standalone arch machines It is manufactured in various thicknesses, widths and polymer variations. Often it is embossed or printed. Polypropylene strapping is most commonly used.  It is light and easy to apply and recycle.  It has high elongation and elongation recovery, but low retained tension. Polypropylene strapping will lose about 50% of the applied tension within one hour, and that this tension loss is accelerated with increases in ambient temperature. If the bundle is something that can take up the slack, then this is not such a huge issue.  If however the bundle is a solid brick such as a block of concrete, the slack will be problematic. Additionally, the sun and its UV rays are an enemy to polypropylene strapping. UV degradation can occur is the bundle is left outside in the sun.  If the polypropylene strapping has been treated with UV inhibitors, then the strapping will fare better in the sun.  


Polypropylene strapping can be printed which has marketing advantages for companies. The printing can also offer security.  It is available in manual and machine grade. It can be sealed with buckles, seals, heat seals or friction welds. Polypropylene can be used for loads up to 2000 pounds, has moderate settling, is light weight.


Nylon strap has the greatest “specific strength” of the three plastics.  Specific strength is defined as a material's strength (force per unit area at failure) divided by its density. It is also known as the strength-to-weight ratio or strength/weight ratio. In fiber or textile applications, tenacity is the usual measure of specific strength. While nylon is strong, its high price is a deterrent in today’s market.  Nylon has been replaced by polyester.


Polyester strapping is the third type of plastic strapping. Polyester and nylon are the strongest plastic strapping products and are used as an alternative to steel in some applications. Polyester strapping can be woven or nonwoven. The nonwoven strap referred to as  “composite straps’ consist of polyester filaments in a straight line that are encased in a polymer.  Woven Polyester strapping is even stronger than the composite straps  due to the filaments being weaved together.Woven polyester strapping can be applied using a ratcheting tensioner and a high joint efficient buckle.

Why is woven polyester strapping so popular?

  • Polyester strapping retains excellent tension on rigid loads.  It also has excellent recovery properties to help a load absorb impact without the strap breaking.
  • Woven poly strapping won’t stain or rust like steel strapping can.
  • The soft nature of poly strapping won’t damage the bundle being secured.
  • The polyester strapping won’t snap or break causing injury.
  • It is lightweight and much easier to work with and dispose of.
  • Both woven polyester and the composite strapping maintains its shape even under rigorous weather conditions.
  • Resistant to high temperatures, ultraviolet rays and moisture.
  • Polyester strapping can be printed.




Comparing steel, polyester, nylon and polypropylene strapping we find:

Steel:  Strongest, most expensive, least impact resistant, and lowest moisture resistance.

Polyester: Lowest notch sensitivity, second lowest cost behind polypropylene, best  impact,moisture and environmental resistance.

nylon:  It falls in the middle of steel and polypropylene.  It is second in cost to steel, had the highest elongation, but adequate moisture and environmental resistance.

Polypropylene: Least expensive, lowest break strength, and great environmental resistance.

The key to selecting the strapping is to know your load characteristics and the strapping attributes.Click to edit your new post...