You need to choose a strapping product for your business. But which material is the best choice for you?
Choosing the right strapping material can be confusing because there are so many different varieties available, at many different price points. They all have pros and cons.
Should you rely solely on traditional materials, like steel, or should you be more concerned about price than anything else? For many products, steel strapping is an excellent choice: it’s reliable and strong. It’s available in many different strengths too.
So let’s consider traditional steel strapping first.
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Steel Strapping: Reliable and Strong
Steel won’t flex or stretch. It has high tensile strength.
If you’re in the construction industry, or are transporting big loads like concrete piping or roofing tiles, steel strapping may be the best choice. Indeed, in any situation involving heavy, sharp and dangerous loads, consider steel first.
Indications you should use steel:
- You’re transporting heavy, stable materials which must be secured so they don’t shift;
- The materials you’re packaging and moving are tough and won’t be damaged by steel strapping with sharp edges, nor will they react to metal;
- Your products must be transported across distances: around the country or around the world.
Although steel strapping is available in many different varieties and can be an ideal solution, it can also be dangerous for workers. Ensure that workers are trained in safety and have the best equipment to deal with high-tension steel.
But what if steel strapping isn’t right for your business? Your materials may be fragile, or may react with metal. Or perhaps you’re looking for a less expensive strapping solution. You have many options.
Your Strapping Choices: Assess your Products First
Non-steel strapping materials may be developed from a variety of plastic, paper, or fibre. Since these materials have varying characteristics, take an inventory of the products you need to strap before you narrow down your choices of materials.
Consider pallets too—you may need one form of strapping for individual packages, and another form for your pallets.
- Your products’ weight: what’s the average weight of an item?
- How is the item packed? Are the parcels soft or rigid?
- Will your packages be secured onto a pallet?
- What is the transportation distance and method? (Will products be exported?)
- Storage: if your products will be warehoused, are they under cover, or will they be exposed to sun, wind, or rain?
After you’ve made your assessment of your products, packaging and transport, consider the various non-steel strapping materials.
1. Polypropylene (PP) Strapping: Economical, with many Applications
Made from varieties of plastic, polypropylene strapping is common in many different industries and can be recycled. It can be used for packaging, as well as for light pallets.
It’s economical and available in different polymers according to the strength required, and can be used in handheld strapping devices. In high-volume situations, PP can be used in semi-automatic as well as automatic strapping machines.
Unlike steel strapping, operators don’t need to wear or use protective equipment to handle polypropylene. It can be printed and embossed to help identification and make it easier to handle. Many companies print their polypropylene packaging as an aid: not only to identify various products at a glance, but also as a promotional tool.
However, there are challenges when using polypropylene. Although it’s easily elongated and stretched, it won’t recover its tension. It’s also easily damaged by weather and UV light, so products using polypropylene must be stored under cover.
2. Polyester (PET) Strapping: Suitable for Heavier Loads
Polyester (PET) is also a form of plastic. As a strapping material, it’s more expensive than polypropylene because it’s suitable for heavy-duty situations. It’s appealing to many companies as an alternative to steel strapping because it’s both rigid and durable. In addition, unlike steel, PET won’t corrode when exposed to weather.
PET strapping may be the right choice for you, if you’re looking for a lightweight material which retains tension. Not only does PET have good recovery properties, it also easily recovers from impacts, ensuring that your products remain undamaged from minor slams and dings.
Like polypropylene, PET strapping can be used in handheld as well as automatic machines.
3. Composite Strapping, also Called “Synthetic Steel”
Although composite strapping can be expensive, it can be an excellent choice in some situations. It’s made of high-tenacity polyester threads coated with polymer; when judged weight for weight, it’s not only stronger than steel, but can be closed with steel buckles and fastenings.
Composite’s polymer-coated threads ensure that the strapping won’t split, retaining high tension over time, as well as weather-resistance.
Because it’s so strong and withstands variations in temperature, composite strapping is available for many applications in many different strengths and widths.
Other benefits of composite strapping include:
- It’s lightweight: steel strapping is five times heavier;
- Packages can be in any size or shape: composite strapping conforms to your product’s shape;
- It eliminates the possibility of degradation and rust, so is ideal in situations where products will be stored out in the open;
- Can easily be re-tensioned.
Choosing the Right Strapping Product for you
Although the varieties of strapping materials may seem confusing, you have choices beyond steel strapping. Choosing the right strapping helps to eliminate product damage and will enhance your profitability.