Let’s be honest: steel prices are increasing while poly prices are poised to decrease. If you’ve ever considered it, now is the time to start really thinking about switching from steel to poly strapping.
And did you know that with the dramatic in the cost of steel, many companies are finding that plastic or poly strapping provides the same performance at a fraction of the cost? Most of these companies are saving, on average, 78%.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a wise old mathematician to figure out that NOW is the time to start switching from steel to poly strapping. It just takes someone with a calculator and a spreadsheet.
Your Accounting department will love the cost reductions; your warehouse workers will thank you for everything else.
Steel strapping used to be the only option.
Steel is the oldest, strongest, and highest tensile strength strapping available. It is available in a variety of widths and thicknesses, as well as variations in the grade of steel. Steel is used for heavy duty holding where high strength and minimal stretch are desired, as well as when the product may be sharp or hot.
Surface finishes for steel strap include paint, paint and wax, bluing or zinc and wax. The wax is used to better transmit the tension around the bundle and for use with certain types of tensioners.
While it is still the preferred alternative in some industries, the market is declining, largely because it is dangerous to work with (presenting sharp edges) and difficult to recycle. But, common applications still include steel coils, bundles of metal, baling wire, bricks and pavers, and roll end-binding.
- Advantages: High strength, low elongation
- Disadvantages: Most expensive of the banding/strapping options, sharp edges, difficult to recycle, potential to rust and leave stains on packaging, does not accomodate shifting weight and becomes loose, significant risk of worker injury
When the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages, it shouldn’t take much time and consideration to make the switch.
There are many in the industry who are loyal steel strap users. They are reluctant to even consider switching from steel to poly strapping. But with rising costs many are seriously considering a switch over to poly strapping in order to save cost. There are also many industries which have made the switch to poly strapping and are happy with the outcome. They have found that poly strapping has decidedly more advantages than steel strapping.
One of the major disadvantages of steel strapping that is working against it is the fact that it is not weather resistant. That means it rusts quickly and that will leave scars and stains on your packaging. Poly strapping is just as strong as steel strapping, but it doesn’t leave stains and scars on the packaged goods.
Another disadvantage to steel banding is that it has sharp edges and operators are always at the risk of injuring themselves. Steel strapping pulled too taut can snap when cut, risking a great deal of injury to those strapping or unstrapping a package. And while injuring your employee is bad, imagine the fall-out of injuring a customer. Steel strapping cuts and also has sharp corners which makes it very difficult to work with.
Polypropylene strapping (or poly strapping) is an economical material designed for light to medium duty unitizing, palletizing, and bundling. It is available in various widths, thicknesses, and polymer variations (e.g., copolymers). This product offers higher elongation, but tends to have irrecoverable dead stretch with constant stress.
What is not generally known to end users is that poly strapping will lose about 50% of the applied tension within one hour, and that this tension loss is accelerated with increases in ambient temperature. Poly strapping can printed, offering security and marketing advantages to the strapped product.
- Advantages: Most cost effective, lightweight, easy to apply, easy to recycle, high elongation, high elongation recover.
- Disadvantages: Low retained tension, potential to split, susceptible to environmental factors, higher rate of failure when used on “solid” products
Switching from steel to poly strapping seems daunting, but with the right help, it can be an easy transition.
Ensuring that you have the right partner means that you’ll have the right person in your corner, explaining to you when you need steel strapping and when you can use poly strapping.
If you’re still confused with all the different advantages and disadvantages listed above, ask yourself these simple questions determine which strapping method you should use for your application.
- Is the load heavy and stable? If so, use steel strapping.
- Does it need to travel a long distance? If so, use steel strapping.
- Will it need to be loaded and unloaded many times before destination? If so, use steel strapping.
- Is the load fragile, prone to devaluation if scratched? If so, use poly strapping.
- How experienced are your employees using steel strapping? If they are not very experienced, you should use poly strapping.
- What is your budget? Steel strapping is more expensive than poly strapping.
So, yes, it’s true that steel strapping is sometimes the only option, but isn’t it nice to know that there are options?
At IPS Packaging, our Account Managers can help make the process easier. And our Definitive Steel and Poly Strapping Guide can set you on the right path, especially if you want to do some research on your own to start. But once you’re ready to make the call, we’re here and we’re ready to help answer all your questions.