When it comes to specialized webbings, whose high performance is critical to safety, longevity, and the durability of a final-product application, yarns constructed from para-aramid fibers are among the most common and most popular. Of the brands and variations available, there are three names that dominate the market. While Kevlar® – produced exclusively by DuPont® – is likely the most recognizable brand, Twaron® and Technora® – both fibers developed and introduced by Teijin® – are popular alternatives, favored by myriad industries for their excellent performance.
An Overview Of Para-Aramid Fibers
Para-aramid fibers all share similar properties, relative to both strengths and weaknesses; however, each brand has specific variations that may make it better suited with regards to its final product solution. Positive performance features common to all para-aramid fibers include:
- High strength-to-weight ratio
- High modulus (the stress/force along an axis needed to deform the initial length)
- High dimensional stability
- Excellent thermal stability: effective over an extremely wide temperature range, high heat stability, low heat conductivity
- Good abrasion and fatigue resistance
- Good cut resistance
- Low flammability
- Electrically non-conductive
- Mold/Mildew Resistance
Like all performance fibers, para-aramids do have their limitations – especially when exposed to certain challenging environments. In order to select the appropriate fiber/yarn for one’s webbing, it is important to note that these fibers have:
- Relatively poor UV resistance. This includes colorfastness and eventual loss of tensile strength
- Low hydrophobicity (water/moisture resistance). This does not necessarily degrade performance (unless coupled with high alkalinity) but will increase weight when wet.
While all para-aramid webbings offer performance features that make them attractive choices for a broad range of industries (ex: fire safety, electrical utility, welding, fall protection, defense, etc.) and product applications, Technora® fibers and Technora® webbings excel in several key areas that make them uniquely suited for specific applications.
- Tenacity: as a measurement of strength-to-weight ratio, Technora® webbings offers the highest strength of the top 3 para-aramids.
- Elongation at break, also known as fracture strain, is the ratio between changed length and initial length after breakage of a test specimen. It expresses the capability of a fiber to resist changes of shape without crack formation. Technora® has twice the elongation at break capacity as its 2 competitors. This translates to resistance to shock and dynamic force.
By comparison, Kevlar® is sensitive to shock loads and may not show any damage until it fails, it is rarely used for applications where the webbing/rope will be subject to shock. Climbing ropes, anchor lines or towing lines where there is danger of shock loads are applications that are not ideal for Kevlar®. For instance, it was tried and abandoned for archery bow strings because the Kevlar® lines tended to fail unexpectedly.
- Chemical resistance: The unique molecular and crystalline structure of Technora®, in conjunction with the closed morphology of its filaments, prevents chemicals from penetrating the polymer structure of the material. However, there are certain inorganic chemicals (such as chlorine) that can adversely affect and degrade performance, so particular chemical exposure must be considered relative to final use.
A Brief History Of Technora®
Technora® was originally developed in Japan; its unique properties were first identified and produced by Teijin® in 1974. Teijin is a Japanese synthetic fiber manufacturer founded in 1917. The discovery of the Technora® fiber was the result of an extensive research and development project aimed at creating a new heat-resistant co-polymer. In 1980, Technora® underwent its first sampling by customers. Teijin then registered the Technora® brand name in 1986, paving the way for commercial production the following year.
Over the past 38 years, Technora® has been used in a growing number of applications. Because of its novel strengths, Technora® webbing has become a popular choice for automotive and aerospace applications, arc-flash resistant harnesses and lifelines, as well as tethering and cargo-netting solutions.
Some notable aerospace applications for Technora® were:
- On January 25, 2004, Technora® webbing was used to suspend the NASA Mars rover Opportunity from its parachute during descent.
- On February 18, 2021, Technora® was also used by NASA as one of the materials (combined with nylon and Kevlar) making up the parachute that was deployed to perform a braking maneuver during atmospheric entry of the Perseverance rover that landed on Mars.
Technora® Webbing Applications
While Technora® webbing is a cost-effective alternative to other branded para-aramid fibers, it is not considered Berry Compliant (made in the USA), and so may not be applicable for certain programs (most defense related products).
Additionally, even though Technora® has no melting point, and only starts to decompose once the ambient temperature reaches 500 °C (932 °F), for heat-resistant applications, exposure to temperatures above 250 °C (482 °F) is not recommended, to ensure fit-for-use strength retention. Conversely, Technora® mostly maintains its mechanical properties at very low temperatures of – 200 °C (-328 °F) or below.
In short, subtle differences in fibers can result in variation relative to function. Therefore, when considering the material makeup of a performance-oriented, mission-critical textile (webbing, or other) it is crucial to review all aspects of its final product application. These would include, but are certainly not limited to:
- Physical performance targets
- Tensile strength
- Cut and abrasion resistance
- Performance relative to environment
- UV resistance
- Flame and heat resistance
- Chemical resistance
- Certifications, standards, and compliancy
- Integration and interaction as a component
- Contact and/or connection with other components (hardware)
- Contact with skin
- Use of coatings and/or dyes
Technora® Webbing At OTEX
No other manufacturer is more experienced, or more renowned for designing and manufacturing webbings, tapes, trims, tubing, and elastics from para-aramid and other high-performance fibers than OTEX Specialty Narrow Fabrics. If you and/or your associates are looking to source a narrow textile product with demanding physical properties, we invite you to contact us to discuss the unique challenges of your project/program. Our Sales, R&D, and Quality Assurance staff are happy to help you find exactly the right design for your needs. If it is not an existing product from our extensive catalogue, rest assured, nothing makes us more excited than engineering new custom textile solutions.