If you’re a commercial or industrial manufacturer, supplier or vendor, you know you need strong strapping to hold loads in place.
Especially when you’re transporting items like steel and timber on flatbeds and other vehicles.
The industry sells a wide variety of strapping and banding materials from steel, polyester, nylon, polypropylene, and rubber.
But what construction holds your merchandise in place so it doesn’t budge? Experienced logistics professionals know steel and polyester strapping are the most popular materials used.
But which is actually better?
While each strapping material contains different qualities, which is the best option for your business?
This article will explain the ins-and-outs of both steel strapping and polyester strapping so you can choose which strapping is right for your company.
First, let’s define steel strapping.
1. What is Steel Strapping?
Steel strapping is constructed from a range of steel alloys. What makes steel strapping strong is that it has the highest break strength compared to other strapping materials.
This means it holds the heaviest loads without the possibility of materials breaking.
Steel strapping works well for holding materials that contain hard corners and sharp edges. A couple of examples include I-beams or steel plates.
It holds this parts firm to avoid them cutting softer materials on your load. Steel’s rigid construction makes it best to hold loads that can settle. This occurs because steel doesn’t lose its shape due to its firmness.
Sometimes firmness can cause loads to expand or settle over the duration of shipping.
If you’re transporting wooden logs, they can settle if they take in moisture. This sometimes makes the load loosen and the log can chafe and crack.
Effect of Types of Steel Used
Resisting corrosion varies depending on the type of steel strapping in use: stainless steel or plain steel.
When it rains, plain steel can corrode in outdoor weather. On the other hand, when using stainless steel strapping or banding, it resists the effects of the rain.
However, if a plain steel plate or steel I-beam is wrapped in a stainless steel strap, it can become discolored if iron molecules transfer onto the steel strap.
Another advantage of using steel strapping versus polyester banding is that steel straps resist prolonged exposure to the sun. Steel is not as susceptible to damage caused by harmful ultraviolet rays the sun emits.
This enables shipping companies to transport products and materials in intensely hot weather that could deteriorate strapping whose construction derived from plastics such as polypropylene or polyester.
2. Working With Polyester Strapping
The compounds of polyester strapping differ greatly from steel strapping.
Opposed to steel strapping, polyester banding expands and contracts to make the load on your truck shift during transport.
In a sense, polyester bands provide more flex during the trip. This provides makes the material more adaptable, but it can shift and settle during transport.
For example, we’ll use wooden logs as we did in the section on steel strapping. Wooden logs will shift due to the softness of polyester. But polyester is more likely to resist abrasion to your materials than steel might.
Why Polyester Strapping Might Not Be An Advantage
This isn’t necessarily a benefit. Here’s why. Sharp-edged objects can slice polyester strapping during shipping.
This would facilitate the need to buy edge protection pieces for your load. Especially when you’re transporting I-beams and metal sheets with sharp corners.
Polyester lacks durability due to its softness and elasticity, unlike steel which provides more durability and rigidity during transit.
A Few More Facts About Polyester Strapping
Polyester, as a polymer, resists erosion to many chemical compounds. This makes the straps withstand moisture and precipitation pretty well.
But over prolonged sun exposure polyester decomposes due to the sun’s strong ultraviolet rays, making polyester weaker and not as durable as steel for longer shipping trips of long distances.
While weaker than steel, polyester is effective for heavy loads as long as the materials don’t have sharp edges. Polyester strapping does have good break strength.
Two Reasons Manufacturers Might Use Polyester Over Steel Bands
Two of the main reasons vendors and manufacturers might choose polyester over steel strapping is cost and ease of use.
Polyester strapping costs less than steel strapping. Unlike steel, the price of polyester is relatively fixed and doesn’t fluctuate.
Easier to Handle
Polyester strapping makes it easier to remove and replace strapping. This causes less chance of injury risks, especially when transported by new and inexperienced transporters.
Here’s a guide on steel strapping safety.
Some novice transporters might be unfamiliar with the tension of a steel band and be cut injured by metal when they try to cut the metal.
Which Application Should You Use: Steel or Polyester?
There are advantages and disadvantages to either strapping solution.
When to Use Steel Strapping and Bands
- You ship long distance loads
- The materials lack sensitivity to abrasion from working with steel
- You plan to move very stable and large heavy loads
- Your loads contain sharp edges that could slice softer banding
- You plan on loading and unloading materials multiple times during transport
When to Use Polyester Strapping and Bands
- Your load is sensitive to abrasion and can be affected by scratching
- Your load contracts and expands during transport
- Your staff lacks experience placing and removing straps around materials
- You’re pulling a local, short-distance load
Be sure to weigh up the pros and cons and evaluate your situation before making any decisions.
Final Thoughts On Polyester Strapping Vs. Steel Strapping
Now you know the details on transporting materials with steel and polyester strapping. Make sure to base your decision on minimizing the risk of damage to merchandise, your employees and to ensure a safe and successful delivery.
Choosing the wrong strapping material could damage materials and affect your bottom line, causing you to waste materials and cause you to remanufacture new goods.
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