Poly Strapping Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the proper way to remove plastic strapping? Because plastic strapping is applied under tension and retained tension, it must be removed with caution. Eye protection is required even though plastic strapping may not be perceived to be as sharp as steel strapping, it still can cause serious cuts or even blindness. Place one hand on one side of the poly strapping to be cut. With solid footing, also place your body in front of your hand holding down the strap and away from the free side of the strapping material. When the poly strapping is cut, the free side will fall away from you.
  • What are the correct combinations of manual tools/sealers/seals or buckles for polypropylene and polyester strapping?

  • What is AAR and AAR-approved strapping? AAR stands for the Association of American Railroads, an organization that independently tests strapping for rail car packaging. There are two types of polyester strapping approved for seal-less (friction weld or heat seal) closure only. Several of our brick polyester straps are AAR approved for closed rail car shipping and several of our polyester lumber straps are AAR approved for open rail car shipping. We also have a strap AAR approved for tomato paste bins. AAR-approved strapping can easily be identified by the required printing at a maximum of every five feet. Since all brink and lumber are not transported by rail car, AAR strapping may not be required in all instances.
  • Are Material Safety Data Sheets available for plastic strapping? Yes, IPS Packaging will provide MSDS via email upon request.
  • What is the difference between polyester and polypropylene strapping? Polyester strapping retains tension longer than polypropylene and has a more "elastic" effect of keeping shrinking or shifting packages tighter. Polyester strapping is also being made to handle the heaviest loads once only thought to be capable of steel strapping, while polypropylene is used for light to heavy bundling and light palletizing/unitizing.
  • How do you identify plastic strapping? Polypropylene strapping is usually textured or embossed with the exception of Signode polypropylene (Contrax), which is smooth. Polypropylene is made in standard colors - white, yellow, black blue, and clear. Polyester strapping is smooth and glossy in appearance like a plastic 7Up bottle. Polyester is generally green or shiny black in color. To tell the difference, one can easily tear lengthwise polypropylene strapping while polyester will not easily split. A two or three-inch section of polyester strapping will sink when placed in water, while polypropylene strapping will float.
  • What are the general plastic strapping specifications to remember? One can often easily identify and cross-reference plastic strapping by the manufacturer's product code. If the product code is not available then as much of the following information as possible needs to be collected:
    • Physical attributes of the coil (such as coil face and core inside diameter)
    • The product's width, finish, footage, thickness, color, and break strength are other physical references needed for proper identification.
  • What is the joint strength of a plastic strap with a heat seal versus a friction weld? Generally, a heat seal will produce high joint strengths, from 70% to 90% of the break strength of the strapping. Friction welds generally produce joint strengths from 55% to 65%.
  • Is strap thickness a reliable indication of the strap strength? Not always, as some straps are heavily embossed which increases thickness but reduces strength. Strength depends on a number of factors so be sure to read the product specifications provided by the manufacturer.
  • Can the same hand tools that use polypropylene strapping be used for polyester strapping? No, not always, some tools will handle both products efficiently while others will not. It is always best to read and understand the manufacturer's manual or specifications.
  • Will hand-grade straps work in automatic strapping machines? It may, but it will not perform reliably or efficiently enough to justify the price difference and is not guaranteed for use other than hand-grade applications.
  • Will a 9x8 strapping core work with a strapping machine designed to handle an 8x8 core? You can use either a 9x8 or 8x8 core size with a strapping machine. There is an adjustable claw on the machine that can accommodate both sizes. The claw can expand for 9x8 strapping cores and contract for 8x8 cores.
  • When buying a semi-automatic arch strapping machine, how do I determine the correct arch size? One must first know the minimum and maximum package size requirements. For the maximum package size, the arch will need at least two inches of "play" or clearance at the top and two sides of the arch to seal properly.

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