Frequently Asked Questions about Plastic Strapping Materials and Strapping Machines.

If you have a question that is not answered here then email it to Note there is also an excellent strapping video library.

Are there different types of plastic polypropylene strapping?

Yes!…homo-polymer and co-polymer. Most companies use homo-polymer as it is suitable for 90% of all plastic strapping applications and nearly all the worlds strapping machine manufacturers design for this type of strap.

(View a video - Plastic Strapping Types - showing how to identify different types)

Will co-polymer plastic strapping work in strapping machines designed for use with homo-polymer strapping?

No! …and manufacturing sources for the co-polymer straps are limited when compared with the more popular homo-polymer.

Are there different grades of polypropylene plastic strapping?

Yes!.. plastic banding is normally specified as suitable for hand tools, semi automatic and automatic strapping machines.

Does the colour of the banding signify a particular grade?

No!…all grades of plastic strapping can be made in a wide variety of colours, although hand tool grades wound onto plastic reels are often black, as they contain regrind material.

What is the difference between the various grades of plastic strapping?

Machine grade plastic straps are normally manufactured from virgin polymers to close tolerance to minimise edge bow and bundle curve, necessary to ensure reliable strap feed in automatic strapping machines. These considerations do not apply to handtool strapping grades and manufacturing tolerances can be much greater and the straps often incorporate a percentage of re-grind material.

Will hand tool grade plastic banding work in automatic strapping machines?

Yes…but not reliably and any apparent cost saving on purchase price will quickly be lost through strapping mis-feeds, wasteage and loss of production.

Should I buy or hire strapping hand tools?

Much will depend on the type of strapping tool, the application and environment, and the degree of care exercised by your operatives. If your operatives take reasonable care of equipment then it is nearly always more cost effective to buy outright, as rented strapping tools and the maintenance thereof are nearly always linked and restrict you to purchasing strapping material from the company that supplied the tool, and you may be unable to benefit from lower strapping prices obtainable elsewhere. If the environment is harsh however, and strapping tools subject to rough treatment then it may be prudent to accept the tools on a hire/free maintenance arrangement but do bear in mind this may result in paying higher prices for the strapping.

Will plastic strapping from a different supplier work in my plastic strapping machine?

Almost certainly…although your plastic strapping machine supplier may try to convince you otherwise. With the exception of those strapping machines that use co-polymer strap, all other plastic  strapping machines are manufactured and sold throughout the world, and must therefore be able to use locally produced plastic strapping material. The most popular carton strapping machines are manufactured in Taiwan, Japan, Europe and USA and are generally re-badged for sale under various brand names. Typical good quality strapping machines can be seen on the Strapping machines section of this store.

What about plastic strapping machine maintenance?

It is important that this aspect of plastic strapping machine purchase is agreed…in writing prior to placing a purchase order. Failure to do this often results in a strapping machine supplier doubling the cost of spares, or travelling and hourly service rates, or extending response times should the user buy strap from other sources. Buyers should also beware of buying from some internet sources as many offering strapping equipment do not offer any or an adequate maintenance/spares backup service… even though it is implied.

What is the difference between a reel and a coil of plastic strapping?

Reels have plastic moulded sides, sometimes spoked, and are generally used for hand tool grade plastic straps. Cores are cardboard tubes onto which all machine grades and a few handtool grade plastic straps are wound. Popular core sizes are 200mmID x 150mm width, 200mmm ID x 190 mm width, 280mm ID x 190mm width, and 406mm ID x 150mm width.


Plastic Strap ReelsReelsPlastic Banding CoresCardboard Cores


What is the difference between polyester and polypropylene strapping?

Polyester strapping is much better at retaining any applied tension over long periods and is less susceptible to tension relaxation caused by increases in ambient temperatures. Polyester strapping also offers higher recovery characteristics and stays tighter than polypropylene strapping on packs that shrink or become compressed. UV resistance is also improved hence its popularity on product stored outside such as building materials. Nevertheless, polypropylene strapping is suitable and more cost effective for the majority of applications.

How do I identify polyester strap from other plastic straps?

Polyester strapping is normally but not always – embossed, has a very shiny surface and is sometimes translucent. Unlike polypropylene it does not split longitudinally and weighs approx twice as much as a polypropylene coil of the same meterage.

(If you didn't earlier click on this link - Plastic Strapping Types)

How is polyester strapping presented?

On the same reel and core types/sizes used for polypropylene strapping.

Can the same plastic banding handtools that use polypropylene be used for polyester strapping?

Sometimes!…but only if the tools use a serrated or grit faced seal. Polyester strapping is a harder material than polypropylene strapping and if ordinary *smooth faced seals are used joint strength will be seriously reduced to the point where the system strengths become unsafe. Friction weld tools such as the SBXT-2 Friction Weld Strapping Tool are generally used nowadays for manual strapping applications.

Do friction weld battery powered plastic strapping tools save time?

Sometimes!..they are obviously quicker than a two piece strapping system – tensioner and sealer – using separate metal seals, but if the tool is being used to strap boxes rather than pallets then a semi automatic strapping machine  - click the link to see a video of one in operation - would be faster, and cost less to buy and maintain.

If the application is pallet strapping then friction weld tools alone offer negligible savings in time. The operator would still have to pull strap from a coilholder, haul it over the top of a pallet, down the side, thread it through pallet voids and feed it into the tool at which point not a second has been saved. The same time consuming operation has to be repeated every time a strap is put on.The only opportunity remaining for savings to be achieved is the difference in time to operate a friction weld tool and say a magazine or combination tool such as the K76 Combination Strapping Tool …generally not more than 1-2 seconds per strap, so he would have to strap like ‘bees wings’ non stop all day to save 10 minutes per day. They are however very convenient to use on the top and the side of the pack and produce a strong – 75% minimum efficiency joint… stronger than a metal seal.

INCIDENTALLY If automatic pallet strapping machines are not a viable proposition then Strap-Pokas are strongly recommended… they cost less than a friction weld tool and reduce manual pallet strapping times by 50% . There’s lots of information on the full rangeof  these strapping machines under the Strap Poka section of this site that are well worth looking at.. Click on the link - Pallet Strapping Machines - to see one being used.

Is there much difference in performance between the various makes of semi automatic strapping machine? 

Yes – alot! See Hot Advice

The key manufacturer of semi auto plastic strapping machines is based in Taiwan and their machines account for the bulk of semi automatic strapping machine sales throughout the world, primarily because they are competitively priced and reliable. Bear in mind however that not all Taiwanese sourced machines are as good.. Japanese strapping machines are excellent – they invented them. German and Swiss strapping machines are also good although the higher prices are difficult to justify except in high volume application. Do also bear in mind that ‘copy strapping machines’ manufactured in Korea and China and popular with some internet/catalogue sales outlets do not perform well over a period so take advice from a reliable source because that bargain buy may result in an’egg on face’ buying decision.

Are friction weld plastic strapping tools reliable?

Their more complex design, compared with mechanical strapping tools, means they are more prone to breakdown, and maintenance costs per annum can amount to about the same as the purchase price – (£800 – £1600) Nevertheless, if they are suspended to prevent them from being dropped to avoid damage, and operated correctly they are very easy and convenient to use, and work well over long periods. more than 80% of strapping tools returned for repair have damage caused by the tool being dropped – there is a solution to this problem – Use Strap Pokas or friction weld tool work stations

As with most products, some are better than others. It really is a case of you get what you pay for and the perceived cost saving offered by some Brands can quickly prove illusory, as reliability is poor and service costs high, so service frequency can become a serious cost issue for the user. The best value, most robust and reliable strapping tools cost in the region of £1600 The S-BXT 2  Friction Weld Strapping Tool is the brand leader throughout the world for good reason

What is a friction weld joint?

Click here  Friction weld strapping tool joint to see what they look like.

The tool grips the straps by means of serrated plates and vibrates them causing sufficient heat to be generated enabling the two strap surfaces to be fused together.

What is a heat seal joint?

A heat seal joint is made by a flat , constantly heated blade passing between two straps after they have been tensioned, partially melting the surfaces of the strap which are then pressed together by means of a pressure pad.

Is plastic strap thickness a reliable indicator of strap strength?

No!…some straps are extruded with a thin base thickness and then heavily embossed to make them appear to be a heavy duty strap…..conversely others are extruded with a thick base thickness and lightly embossed. The strength of a strap is to a great extent linked to the weight of polymer/metre used to produce the strap

How do I untangle a coil of plastic strapping?.

Its easy! Click on this link - Untangling a coil of plastic strapping.

What type of seal should be used with polypropylene straps?

Choice of seal is largely determined by the type of tool being used and/or the application. As a general guide semi open standard smooth faced seals should only be used on very light packages as their ability to stop straps slipping through under load are limited. Heavy duty smooth faced seals (32mm long x 0.6mm) such as the SO12HD are recommended for most applications. Some tools use serrated seals and these are suitable for most applications although caution should be exercised as inferior copies are appearing on the UK market..

What seals should be used with polyester strap?

Serrated seals K12 or K16 are recommended used with the K76 Combination Strapping Tool. Friction weld tools (sealess) are also ideal as they produce a stronger joint in the strap than is possible with a metal clip. DO NOT USE SMOOTH FACED SEALS

Serrated Strapping Seal

Does colour affect the rate of UV degradation of polypropylene strap.

Yes!     For products stored outside and secured with polypropylene strap advice should be taken from specialist strapping suppliers as certain colours can loose all load bearing capability in as little as three months.

Does exposure to normal levels of UV affect polyester strapping?

To all intents and Polyester is the preferred and safest strapping material for all products stored outside.

What are the benefits of printed plastic strapping? 

Printed Plastic Banding

Companies use printed strap as a low cost means of promoting their product… costs less than printed cartons… used in the same way as tamper evident labels……enables carriers easily identify all elements of a consignment.

Why do some straps have to be ‘antistatic’

For use in explosive and other hazardous areas

Pitfalls to be avoided when purchasing strapping machines!

Definitely! – Always get written confirmation before placing any order that:

1) Strapping materials that will operate satisfactorily in the equipment can be purchased from other non-affilliated companies.

2) That you will not be penalised should you purchase strapping from any other company by means of service starvation – “premium” pricing on spares, reduced discounts, or any other unfair treatment.

3) Obtain price list for spares and service.

4) Particularly when buying from the Internet ensure the sellers have a nationwide service back up facility – many of them do not and compound problems by offering very cheap ‘look alike strapping machines’ that present service and spares difficulties. The percieved savings in purchase price are often illusory and are lost the first time the machine requires service, resulting in many users having to buy a second machine from reputable outlets.

What is the cause of polypropylene banding splitting?

This generally happens when plastic strap is overtightened or is pulled over a sharp/ rough edge. Using a tool that automatically controls the amount of tension applied i.e. a friction weld tool frequently resolves the problem or the use of plastic or card corner protection, or the upgrading of the strap specification.

Contact information.