What is Webbing?
Webbing is a woven fabric that is distinguishable by its various material compositions, strength variations and widths. The webbing process essentially involves yarns that are woven via looms to create strips. While it is generally comparable to rope for its harnessing function, webbing is an extremely versatile component used in an array of industry applications, ranging from military apparel to automotive parts. Typically, webbing is fabricated in solid or tubular form, with each type having different applications and functions. While ropes are typically thick in texture, PRET webbing is produced in extremely lightweight parts. The primary materials used in the production of webbing include variations of polyester, nylon, and polypropylene. Cotton webbing is also available and is commonly used in commercial applications, including clothing apparel. Webbing is also customizable in a series of colors, designs and prints, and manufacturers can fabricate reflective webbing for safety applications.
Standard Industry Applications
Webbing is found across various sectors. Standard RPET webbing applications and associated industries include:
Seatbelts and harnesses; automotive industry
Hiking, backpack and harnessing gear; sporting good retail apparel
Safety bands and tapes; hospital and medical industry
Upholstery (seat bases); furniture manufacturing
Uniform (suspenders) and accessories for various professions, e.g. police and military
Web Processing: Solid (Flat) and Tubular
Solid webbing is also known as flat webbing and is fabricated in varying degrees of thickness. Distinguished by its flat aesthetic, solid webbing is commonly used for applications like seatbelts. It is lightweight though it is susceptible to tearing, as stress from use tends to affect the outer surface of the material. Solid webbing is generally too stiff to function in applications that require knots, which is why this type of webbing is best suited for applications where the material can be sewn into a larger product. Backpack straps, for instance, are examples of this type of solid webbing.
Tubular webbing is thicker and more durable than solid PP webbing and is composed of two sheets of fabric. It is suitable for knotting applications (like a rope for hoisting) and carries tension better than solid webbing. For functions like climbing, experts recommend utilizing tubular webbing that is woven into a continuous loop.
Common Webbing Materials
Below are the common webbing materials and some examples of webbing, and types and uses. While nylon and polyester have similar properties to each other, there are some key differences.
Nylon Webbing is a high strength elastic material that is commonly used for belt applications (specifically, flat nylon). This material tends to stretch approximately 2% the length of the webbing when it is wet. When looking at how to make nylon webbing, experts warn that nylon webbing should not be exposed to water continuously, as the material tends to absorb liquid and may harbor mildew if it is not maintained properly.
Polyester webbing is durable and similar in aesthetic to nylon. This material is suitable for use for applications that require lifting heavy loads. Polyester webbing has low water-absorption and is more mildew and rot-resistant than nylon. This webbing is commonly used in applications including racing harnesses and seatbelts.
This type of webbing is typically used for outdoor applications. Some products fabricated with this Nylon webbing include window nets and plastic bags. Polypropylene webbing is comparable to nylon, though it is generally lighter. Additionally, it is fabricated with U.V. protection and is water-resistant. This material is processed in varying degrees of thickness, although it has low abrasion resistance. According to experts, it is most suitable for medium-strength operations.
Additional Considerations: Replacement & Maintenance
Professionals recommend inspecting the material on an annual basis, especially where the component is utilized as a safety restraint application. Webbing installed as belts and harnesses in the racing industry, for example, will begin to lose elasticity and tear after consistent use and exposure to certain elements, such as oil and heat. Replacement is recommended accordingly, ranging from 2-5 years or sooner if the application is used regularly, as with seatbelts and chair seats (cotton chair webbing).