Materials used for Ropes:
Nylon is a generic designation for a family of synthetic polymers known generically as polyamides
Widely used for many products, it can be spun, moulded and machined.
Nylon Physical Properties
- Specific Gravity: 1.13, Nylon does not float
- Polyamide is durable and strong with excellent abrasion resistance
- Nylon will stretch a lot before breaking. It is quite elastic and a good shock absorber. This makes it a good choice for live loads, including towing and anchoring.
- Melts instead of burning, if burned emits some cyanide.
- Good strength to weight ratio
- Transparent to infrared light
- Maximum Temperature: 210°F 99°C, Minimum Temperature: -94°F -70°C
- Melting Point: 420°F 216°C
- Tensile Strength: 5,800 psi
- The UV resistance of Nylon is good.
- When dry, polyamide is a good electrical insulator. Because it absorbs water the properties of Nylon can change when it is wet.
Nylon Chemical Properties and Rot Resistance
- Good resistance to Oil and Organic Solvents, Formaldehyde and Alcohols
- Poor resistance (not recommended for use with) Phenols, Alkalis, Iodine and Acids, Chlorine is also to be avoided.
- Nylon is resistant to insects, fungi, animals, as well as molds, mildew and rot.
- Nylon doesn't burn but when it break down in fire it forms hazardous smoke, or ash, usually containing hydrogen cyanide.
Nylon Rope Strength and Weight
|Diameter of Rope||(Minimum) Breaking Strength||Weight of Rope|
The safe loading of a nylon rope is a 1/10 to 1/12 of its breaking strength. Remember that knots weaken a rope as does age, wear, chemical attack etc.
Nylon is sensitive to high temperatures and will degrade releasing toxic materials including cyanide.
It it however resistant to UV light.
Because it absorbs water it is liable to stain. This is not necessarily harmful but can be unsightly.
Nylon rope Uses
Nylon rope is usually made from long extruded mono-filament. I have not seen it being chopped and re-spun, maybe for specialty items? Nylon rope comes either braided or twisted.
It can be made from thicker or thinner strands which will affect its feel, stiffness and appearance. It can be very soft and easy to handle, or quite harsh to the touch.
Nylon can be dyed and is available in many colours. Some people who have traditional boats have dyed their nylon dock and anchor lines a browny colour to make them look more authentic. Avoid strong bases and acids if you want to try this. Do a test first.
Paracord is traditionally a nylon rope used to suspend parachutes. Paracord knotting and braiding has become a popular craft among survivalist and others. There is a great number of projects available. Here is my page on paracord and some projects
Some nylon rope is available with water repelling coating which reduce water absorption and loss of strength.
Nylon mono-filament has been the mainstay of fishing line for many years. It is still available as monofilament:KastKing Premium Monofilament Fishing Line Various Color--- 300M / 328 Yards (White, 35LB(15.9KG)0.50mm) (it is often used by crafters as a bead stringing line or as a clear sewing thread) or as braided line: Woodstock Line NC-50-12-B No. 12 Braided Nylon Line, Black, 50-Yard
Most boat docking lines are made from nylon and are available in many sizes and colours.SeaSense Double Braid Nylon Dockline, 1/2-Inch X 15-Foot, Blue
Anchor lines for small yachts are often nylon. The natural stretch of the lines helps to cushion the boat. Both twisted: Attwood Nylon Twisted Anchor Line with Thimble (3/8-Inchx150-Feet) and braided nylon anchor lines are available Norestar Braided Nylon Anchor Rope, 200-Feet x 1/2-Inch . The twisted lines have more stretch in them but are easier to snag and damage. They are also less expensive.
General purpose towing straps are often made of nylon: Truck Car Two Metal Hook Nylon Braided Strap Towing Rope Yellow 4.5M
Advantages and Disadvantages of Nylon Rope
- Nylon can be made to be very lustrous, semilustrous or dull
- Nylon can be dyed and is available in many colours.
- Polyamide has good UV resistance
- It is relatively inexpensive.
- It's quite resistant to solvents and oil, but does not like strong bases and acid.
- Resists rot and mildew but can stain particularly in water soluble stains.
- Doesn't burn
- Nylon is strong, resistant to abrasion
- Nylon is elastic and stretches UP TO 40% (more commonly 15-25%). It makes good mooring, anchor and dock lines. It is also widely used as towing lines for this reason.
- Can be made to feel soft and pleasant to the hand.
- It sinks
- Releases harmful chemicals when it degrades in high heat.
- Because it is quite stretchy, it is not suitable where a line needs dimentional stability such as rigging.
- Nylon has been know to shrink and because of this it is usually heat set.
- Nylon looses strength when wet, Sometimes as much as 20% of dry strength.
- If nylon is repeatedly cycled at high percentage of its breaking strength, it generates a large amount of internal heat, which degrades the performance of nylon and can cause failure at high loads, such as anchor rodes during a storm. For more on this Article by Steve Dashew, taken from Cruising World, aug 2001
It's confusing that what many people call "nylon rope", a common light floating line that quickly degrades in UV light is really polypropelene. It's often yellow and very bristly to the hand.
I try to be accurate and check my figures, but mistakes happen. Check the suitability of any material against the technical information provided by the manufacturer.email me if you find mistakes, I'll fix them and we'll all benefit: Christine [HOME]