Have you ever looked at something and wondered why it was engineered in the way that it was? My curious brain does it all the time. Take webbing straps. Usually made from nylon, they have become the preferred alternative to ropes and bungee cords for all sorts of applications. If you stop and really think about how they are used, it becomes clear that nylon webbing straps were engineered to perform.
The folks behind the Rollercam.com and their webbing strap tiedowns explain that webbing straps can be secured with either cam buckles or ratchets. Rollercam prefers cam buckles. Meanwhile, ratchet straps are the preferred option when straps will be used to secure very heavy loads. Flatbed truck drivers use them all the time.
Made from Nylon
Although webbing straps can be made from polyester and other similar materials, most are made from nylon. Nylon is a synthetic material that begins its life as small molecules that are bonded together to form long, polymer chains. Those chains are then spun into threads and woven into fabrics.
The thing about polymer chains is that their bonds are very difficult to break. That is why nylon has such high tensile strength. We see the same thing with different types of plastics as well as carbon fiber. Polymer chains are tough. They can withstand a lot of force.
A Woven Design
Another thing you notice about webbing straps, if you look closely, is the fact that the material is woven. Weaving threads together increases their collective strength by creating innumerable contact points through which energy can be dispersed. Woven fabrics are much stronger than their nonwoven counterparts.
Combine nylon’s natural strengths with weaving and you end up with a material that is extremely strong. Nylon webbing straps certainly aren’t as strong as chains, but they tend to be a lot stronger than rope. They put bungee cords to shame.
Don’t Forget the Grip Spikes
Weaving nylon to create webbing straps offers a secondary advantage: it creates a material with a texture that is perfect for the grip spikes that dig into it. Think about it.
Whether you are using a strap with a cam buckle or ratchet, there are grip spikes that dig into the material to hold the strap in place. The spikes are cut into a metal plate that is kept tensioned with the spring. They could easily dig into any material, but nylon webbing’s weave makes digging in and holding a lot easier.
Holding a strap secure is all about friction. The greater the friction between the grip spikes and strap, the stronger the hole. Webbing material generates more friction due to its texture. That is why cam buckles and ratchets perform so well with nylon webbing straps.
Strap Width Makes a Difference
Even the width of a given webbing strap is part of the engineering equation. Just like friction helps cam buckles and ratchet straps hold webbing material tightly, it is friction between strap and load that keeps a load secure. The wider the strap, the more surface area you have to create friction.
Ratchet straps designed for flatbed trucks are wider than typical cam straps for this very reason. Securing loads to flatbed trailers requires more force and friction. The wider strap gives you that.
Nylon webbing straps are engineered to perform. That becomes abundantly clear when you study the details of how they work. Thanks to their engineering and design, webbing straps can be used to secure all sorts of loads. From light to medium to heavy-duty jobs, there is a webbing strap to get it done.