Polyester & steel strapping are a common means of unitization and bundling in the packaging industry.
Strapping is the most commonly used means of unitization and bundling in the packaging industry.
Because of its long history in the packaging world, there are lots of different types of strapping today; however, most strap is made from either steel or plastic. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, making it critical to figure out exactly what works for your specific needs.
However, before we look at the different types of strapping, it is important to ensure that you are familiar with the terminology of the strapping industry. These are the common terms used to determine the right strapping product for your application and your needs.
Steel is the oldest, strongest, and highest tensile strength strapping available. It is available in a variety of widths and thicknesses, as well as variations in the grade of steel. Steel is used for heavy duty holding where high strength and minimal stretch are desired, as well as when the product may be sharp or hot.
Surface finishes for steel strap include paint, paint and wax, bluing or zinc and wax. The wax is used to better transmit the tension around the bundle and for use with certain types of tensioners.
While it is still the preferred alternative in some industries, the market is declining, largely because it is dangerous to work with (presenting sharp edges) and difficult to recycle. But, common applications still include steel coils, bundles of metal, baling wire, bricks and pavers, and roll end-binding.
Polypropylene is an economical material designed for light to medium duty unitizing, palletizing, and bundling. It is available in various widths, thicknesses, and polymer variations (e.g., copolymers). This product offers higher elongation, but tends to have irrecoverable dead stretch with constant stress.
What is not generally known to end users is that poly strapping will lose about 50% of the applied tension within one hour, and that this tension loss is accelerated with increases in ambient temperature. Poly strapping can printed, offering security and marketing advantages to the strapped product.
Polyester is the most rigid option, offering the strongest plastic strapping, and is used as a viable alternative to steel in many industries. Polyester provides excellent retained tension on rigid loads and its excellent recovery properties help a load absorb impact without strap breakage. It retains tension over a longer period of time.
Since polyester strapping offers the highest strength and greatest retained tension of all the plastic strapping, it is often used on heavy duty loads that need high initial tension along with high retained tension during handling and storage. Competitive pricing and performance characteristics have motivated many steel strapping uses to switch to polyester. This type of poly strapping is available in both machine grade and hand grade and is easy to dispose of and recycle.
Plastic strapping, in general, is often referred to collectively as “poly strapping.” While this can create confusion, remember these useful pieces of advice:
Remember, good tools or machines are critical; if you’re working with something that is outdated or wrong for the application for which you’re using it, you are costing the company thousands of dollars a year in lost productivity and resources.
Tools for steel strapping are always exclusive to steel strapping. Steel strapping cannot be applied with a machine; it can only be applied by a hand-held tool.
When choosing the application methods for your strapping, be careful: there are no tools or machines that cover every strap size and/or type.
Some tools and machines can be used on any poly strapping, some can only be used on either polyester or polypropylene, and some can only be used on steel strapping.
The hardest method is hand appliation because users are applying strap with no tools, only buckles that the strap is wound through, which is then hand-tightened.
These tools rquires a tensioner, a sealer, and seals. This is the most common way of applying strapping. You tighten your strap with the tensioner and seal it with the sealer. Sounds easy, but if you’re using old hand tools, which are typically very heavy and difficult to manuever, it’s anything but easy. Workers not only have to be strong, but they must also know the proper way to use the tools to avoid injury. Hand tools can take between 2 and 3 minutes to secure just one strap.
These style tools combine all the necessary operations - tensioning, sealing, and cutting - into one tool, offered in varying strengths to accommodate the unique needs of the user. Being much lighter-weight, some as light as seven pounds, means no more struggling and needless injuries. And the power aspect allows workers to secure straps up to six times faster than with a hand tool, sometimes taking as little as 30 seconds per strap.
As with battery operated, these tools combine all strapping operations into one tool. However, they use compressed air pressure for power and are offered in varying strengths to accommodate the users and the type of strapping. No more injuries, no more dangerous tools.
There is a variety of strapping equipment on the market today from low volume machines, including semi-automatic arch and table-top machines, to high-volume automatic machines that can be custom designed for any unique application.
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