The word "cordage," of which the root word is "cord," refers to the entirety of braided and twisted fiber varieties, namely lines, cords and ropes. Cordage has been around since prehistory, assisting humans in their endeavors for longer than we know. Today, rope suppliers offer ropes and braids in a dizzying number of compositions and twisting and braiding patterns for consumer, commercial and industrial use. These uses include applications in the marine, sports and recreation, furniture and bedding, construction, building maintenance, manufacturing industries, among others. Since the early days of rope construction, natural fibers like hemp, sisal, manila, and cotton. While those materials are still widely used in cordage construction today, a wide variety of synthetic fiber materials are now available for use as well. Some of those synthetic fibers include polyester, nylon, kevlar, and polypropylene.
Quick links to Cordage Information
Note that most cordage is made either via twisting or braiding.
- Twisted Rope
- Twisted cotton rope is made simply, by twisting cotton fibers around each other. Most often, it involves twisting the fibers of three separate strands in one direction and then twisting the strands themselves in the other direction. This method of twisting gives the rope good balance and high strength. Properly twisted rope hangs straight and resists kinking.
- Braiding Rope
- Braiding, on the other hand, is slightly more complicated, involving first twisting individual cotton fibers into strands and then interweaving those strands into a rope. Manufacturers can braid rope into a number of different types of braids, including: solid braids (locked stitched with no core; high strength; low stretch), hollow braids (any braid construction without a core; fully spliceable; capable of floating), flat braids/tubular braids (simply braided with no inner core), diamond braids (over and under construction; available with or without core), double braids (braid over braid/two ropes in one) and twisted braids (three strand construction).
Depending on their application, the qualities for which customers search in cordage varies. However, in general, some of the rope characteristics that customers seek include: abrasion resistance, softness, high tensile strength, low elongation, elasticity, kinetic strength, buoyancy, light weight, good shock absorbance, good grip, acid resistance, alkali resistance, sunlight resistance, salt resistance and mildew resistance. When deciding on what cord material and cord configuration might be best for an application, customers must consider the demands of the application for which the cord or cords will be used, including those related to the maximum load bearing, the climate and environment, the frequency of use and storage. Every kind of cord construction offers something different.
Cordage in the Marine Industry
In the marine industry, where cordage is relied upon for the safe and reliable mooring of ships at docks and ports, for catching fish and for emergency rescue services, synthetic fiber ropes and cords have essentially taken over the entire market. This is because they are better able to deal with the burdens of sea and water life, such as salt exposure, sun exposure and water, and because they are generally stronger. In particular, polypropylene is valued for use with marine applications because it is especially buoyant and it is inexpensive. Because it will not sink if accidentally dropped in the water, polypropylene is quite commonly used to make docking lines, especially for use with recreational watercraft like speed boats. Nylon rope is also considered useful in marine applications, as it can withstand high levels of shock without breaking. Nylon rope and other elastic cords are essential in any context in which the pulling and/or securing of heavy loads is involved. Contexts like these are found primarily in marine, construction, shipping and consumer load hauling. Elastic cordage is typically found in ranges of length from one or two feet to tens of feet. Usually, so that they can be joined with other elastic ropes or fastened to other objects, they are additionally equipped with metal hooks on each end.
Natural Fiber Ropes Applications
Unlike synthetic ropes, which can be used in virtually any application, natural fiber ropes have a limited number of jobs they can do, due to their comparable weakness. The applications that do call for natural cordage benefit from their qualities of softness, pliability, recyclability and non-toxicity. Such applications include: Venetian blind cords and the cords of other blinds and curtains, decorative gift bag rope handles, hammock strings, theater or stage rope, camping rope, awning cords, furniture accessories, decorative items, novelty products, jump rope and animal toys.
To learn what type of cordage might be right for your application, reach out to a specialist today. For the best results, select your manufacturer from one of those listed on this page.