Webbing refers to fabric of varying width and strength woven from different materials. It’s made by using looms to weave yarn into strips. Unlike rope, webbing has many applications way beyond solutions for harnessing. Its high versatility makes it a vital component in several industrial applications, which we shall explore in the next section.
Flat Webbing vs. Tubular Webbing
Webbing typically takes a flat or tubular form, each designed with distinct applications in mind. Unlike rope, webbing can be fabricated into highly lightweight components. Its material composition includes various types of polypropylene, nylon, polyester and cotton. Regardless of its material composition, manufacturers can customize webbing into different prints, designs, colors and reflectivity for various safety applications.
Also known as solid webbing, flat webbing is typically made from strong solid woven fibers. It’s available in different material compositions, thickness and width, with each character having a different effect on the breaking strength of the webbing.
Manufacturers generally use flat nylon webbing to fabricate large products, such as straps, reinforcement bindings and seatbelts. Tubular webbing is typically thicker and more flexible than flat webbing, making it suitable for applications such as hoses, filters and coverings. For dynamic functions, such as safety harnesses that require knots, manufacturers may use a hybrid of flat and tubular webbing because it’s more resistant to wear and tear than other forms of webbing.
Common Types of Webbing Material
The most common webbing materials are:
- Cotton: Not the strongest but eliminates static electricity
- Polypropylene: Stronger than cotton and suitable for marine use because it’s water-resistance
- Nylon: Strong, with a 270–5,500 pounds per inch tensile strength
- Polyester: Combines the benefits of polypropylene and nylon
- Acrylic: A combination of acrylonitrile and any long-chain synthetic polymer
Furthermore, other specialty materials have emerged from the use of polymers and acrylics. The amount of specialized fabric used in these materials depends on the specificity of the application. Examples of specialized materials include:
Resistance to Cuts, Tears, Fire and UV Rays
The most popular materials for webbing are those that are resistant to cuts or tears. The degree to which webbing material is cut-resistant is measured using a unit known as denier, which measures the thickness of individual fibers. A high denier count means that the fiber is durable, sturdy and thick, whereas a low denier count means that the fiber is soft and sheer, like silk. Dyneema is an example of cut-resistant fiber with a denier range of 1,500–2,700.
The point at which high temperatures decompose or destroy webbing material is called the temperature rating. Several applications of webbing require the material to be fire retardant and fire-resistant. The chemical that makes material fire resistant doesn’t wash or wear off because it’s integrated into the fiber’s chemical composition.
Two examples of strong and fire-resistant webbing material are High Tensile Webbing and Nylon 6. High Tensile Webbing is resistant to tearing and cutting. It can tolerate temperatures of up to 356° Fahrenheit (180° Celsius) before the heat destroys or decomposes the material. Nylon 6 has a denier range of 1,000–3,000 and is the strongest fire-resistant webbing material. It can also handle extremely high temperatures.
UV damage occurs over a long period, so many webbing manufacturers apply a coating on the material. For example, OPTIFADE coating protects tents and outdoor furniture from UV rays.
1. Fire Safety, Industrial Safety, Fall Protection and Arc-Flash Protection
Webbing is used to produce high-performance components for equipment in the fire and safety industry. These include FR elastics for facemasks; FR harness webbing components for self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units; and straps for escape ropes for drag rescue devices, lifelines and thermal imaging cameras.
Firefighter webbing can be a vital component in suspenders, head harness straps and goggle straps. Webbing can be used to make high-performance materials required in multi-hazard situations. These include fall arrest systems, shock absorbers, harness webbing, body belts, positioning lanyards and straps used in Self-Retracting Lifeline (SRL) fall protection systems.
2. Aerospace and Transportation
Webbing is used as a component in aerospace technologies for spacecraft, military aircraft and commercial aircraft. It also has applications in several segments of the transportation industry, including aerospace transport, marine shipping, mass transit and trucking.
Webbing products are vital components of loading systems and transportation mechanisms to which webbing incorporates high-tensile, high visibility, reflective and FR attributes.
3. Outdoor and Marine
Webbing can be used for marine applications. It’s a superior substitute for grommets in geotextile applications and outdoor structures because it’s faster to produce and quicker to install. High Tenacity acrylic/polyester webbing can serve as a linking component for textile architectural structures of different configurations.
4. Defense and Law Enforcement
Webbing can be used in the manufacture of Berry Compliant webbing, tapes, E-Textiles elastics and drawcords. Material that offers “no melt, no drip” performance due to high heat degradation resistance is an essential component in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
It’s also used in the production of advanced tactical PPE and apparel that protects the lives of people in law enforcement. Webbing components for Special Ops and Field Duty tactical gear include webbing, elastics, tapes, bindings, drawcords and zipper tape.
Webbing has several applications in the healthcare industry. It can be used in non-invasive medical devices that include Smart Fabrics, E-Textiles and other custom-engineered textile components. Webbing is also used to make elastic components for face shields and facemasks used in ambulances and hospitals.
6. Flood Protection and Critical Infrastructure
Continual improvement of the performance capabilities of webbing materials facilitates critical infrastructure innovations that may not have been possible with traditional materials like concrete and steel.
For example, high-performance webbing is well-suited for Flood Protection because the material’s dependability and speedy deployment address challenges such as transportation, storage, unpredictability, and threat to property and life.
7. Load Bearing and Crane-Rigging
Webbing with extremely high tensile strength and cut/abrasion resistance can be used to make components for the load-bearing and crane rigging industries. These materials are ideal because they provide super safety for cargo and workers.
Unmatched High-performance Webbing Solutions
Webbing is an extremely versatile material with applications in many industries thanks to its variability in fire resistance, cut resistance, tear resistance and UV ray resistance. Visit OTEX Specialty Narrow Fabrics and explore its range of high-performance webbing solutions.