Packaging Advice

3 common types of strapping materials & their differences

3 mins

Strapping is a common solution used to bundle items together as well as stabilise, hold, and secure pallet loads. It’s used in a variety of industries, from shipping large industrial equipment through to combining small packages in ecommerce fulfilment centres - because of this, there are many types of strapping materials available on the market today.

Strapping is a part of the packaging process which businesses often leave unchanged. Often a quick solution for their immediate strapping needs is found, and then relied on for many years without revision. But what many businesses fail to realise is that revisiting their strapping solution could provide massive benefits.

In this article, we explore the difference between three common types of strapping materials so that you can decide what’s best for your applications.

Steel strapping

As the oldest and most commonly used strapping material to this day, steel strapping is ideal for securing heavier consignments such as in the construction industry. It’s designed for extreme tasks that require a heavy-duty strapping and works great where sharp angles and awkward shapes are present.

Steel strapping is optimal for securing industrial equipment, heavy construction materials and anything else similar in weight and size.

This type of strapping is applied manually with a tensioning tool and then fastened together by crimping a steel buckle around the bands ends.

Advantages of steel strapping:

  • Extreme durability
  • High break strength
  • Use for large loads
  • Can handle sharp edges
  • UV resistant

Disadvantages of steel strapping:

  • Sharp ends of tensioned steel strapping can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken
  • Costly compared to other strapping solutions

Polypropylene strapping

Polypropylene strapping is a popular solution for light duty palletising and bundling. It has a high elongation rate but low recovery, meaning polypropylene will often stretch out and not return to its original shape. This makes polypropylene strapping an economic and easy-to-apply solution, limited for light use only.

It can be applied in many ways, including manually by hand or tools, or through the use of a semi/ fully automatic strapping machine.

Advantages of polypropylene strapping:

  • Cost-effective
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to apply
  • High elongation
  • Easily recycled

Disadvantages of polypropylene strapping:

  • Low retained tension
  • Limited to light weight use only

Polyester strapping

Polyester strapping offers a high break strength and can handle high tension rates, combined with good elongation and recovery – A nice feature that steel strapping noticeably falls short on.

Because of its combination in strength and flexibility, polyester strapping is a great replacement for steel (although doesn’t offer quite the same level of strength). This type of strapping is well known for being extremely versatile due to its unique qualities

Its high level of elongation and recovery makes polyester ideal for packaging loads that are susceptible to shifting and is prone to warping shrinkage or jarring during transit.

Polyester strapping is available in a variety of different applications and has a great selection of suitable tolling accessories and cutters.

Advantages of polyester strapping:

  • High break strength
  • Strongest of plastic strapping solutions
  • Good recovery
  • High tensioning levels
  • Greater elongation
  • Weather and UV resistant

Disadvantages of polyester strapping:

  • Curls easily on unwind

Strapping materials & advice from Swiftpak

Still unsure which strapping material is right for your business? Why not speak to our expert packaging team today. With over 45 years’ experience in the industry, we have the knowledge needed to advise on the very best strapping materials and solution for your needs.

We stock a variety of steel, polypropylene and polyester strapping products so that you can secure your pallets with confidence. Our strapping range expands to semi and automatic strapping machinery, strapping seals and buckles, and our portable hand strapping tool for all your strapping needs.