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Material & Construction

Table: Yachting Rope Materials - Properties Comparison

Material

Brandnames

Elongation 50% Breaking strength

Breaking Strength (ф 8mm [kg])

Density

[kg/dm3]

Melting Point

[°C]

UV resistance (1=low; 5 high)

Abrasion Restance

Typical Applications

Polypropylene

 

16%

1350

0.91 (float)

170

2

Poor

Mooring line

HMPE - High Molecular Weight Polyethylene)

Dyneema, Spectra 

3.4%

6300

0.97 (float)

150

5

Good

Halyards/ Sheets/ Trimlines (regatta)

Polybenzobisoxazole (PBO)

Zylon 

1.8%

8000

1.58

650*

1

Poor

Rigging (Regatta)

Liquid Crystal Polymer

Vectran 

2.2%

6000

1.4

330

2

Very Good

Halyards/ Rigging

Polyester

Dacron 

8%

1800

1.38

260

5

Very Good

Halyards/ Sheets/ Trimlines (cruising)

Polyamide

Nylon 

16% dry, 20% wet

1900

1.14

220-250

4

Good

Mooring/ Anchor line

Remark: Table is for comparison purpose, differences occur within each material (depending on grades/ treatments)

Dyneema and Spectra

In recent years Dyneema lines have become popular very fast. Not surprising, since it has very little stretch and is also twice as strong as polyester. Moreover, it is so light that it floats on water. This type of line is sometimes sold under the trade name Spectra. Dyneema has a good chemical resistance. Mechanical properties are unaffected by seawater, oil or other common chemicals. Also, the material is very durable.


Dyneema is available in three versions: SK75, SK78 and SK90 since late 2009. SK75 and SK78 are very similar in terms of features, the biggest difference is the creep (elongation under continuous high load). SK75 has a little creep and SK78 not (negligible). The SK90 variant is, as specified by DSM itself, 13% stronger than previous versions and of course lighter. Also the SK90 shows like SK75 little creep. Lines with creep are less suitable for backstays, but the amount of creep in SK75 (and SK90) is small and therefore, in addition to SK78, often this material also is used for backstays.


Dyneema fibers are smooth (self lubricating), are quite durable and have a low melting point. A good cover jacket is sometimes needed for additional protection. Sometimes an extra layer is used to ensure that the cover and the slippery core don’t slide around. Dyneema is good UV resistance. Where the line does not wear you are fine to remove the cover largely in order to spare weight (rejuvenate). This works well for example for spinnaker sheets. Splitting Dyneema: a Dyneema line gets 95% of the strength of the Dyneema core, the cover mantle appears only wear. This is the line "core in core” splice. The easiest thing to split a "bare eye" in the line and eliminate the cover.

PBO/ Zylon 


PBO (Polybenzobisoxazole) has the lowest elongation of all lines, has a very high breaking strengh and very little creep (elongation under continuous high load). Moreover, it has a very high melting point. The main disadvantage of PBO is the UV sensitivity. A PBO fiber without cover, 24 hours exposed to UV light, loses all 50% of its breaking strength. PBO should therefore always use shell. PBO is often used as a backstay in regattas. PBO rigging must be replaced after 3-5 years.



Polyamide/ Nylon

Polyamide is sold under the trade names Nylon and Tiptolon. It is a flexible line that sinks. Nylon is strong, has quite some stretch and is good UV resistant. Nylon lines can be seen in two forms:
• Beaten: consists of a number (usually 3) tangled strands. A beaten line has less stretch than a braided line from the same material and the core can never shoot out. A beaten line will easier tangle.

• Braided: consists of a braided line around a core line. A braided line is less easier to damage, becomes less tangled and stretches more than a beaten line. A braided line is more comfortable for your hands.

Nylon lines are ideal for mooring or anchor lines.

 

Polyester/Dacron

Polyester is marketed with trade names as Dacron, Dacron, Tiptolest and Spunolest. A polyester line is relatively inexpensive and usually provides enough functionality to the cruising sailor. The main disadvantage is that is has some stretch. Less than a nylon line, but more than modern fibers such as Dyneema. For racers polyester has too much stretch. Pre-stretched lines are often sold. Polyester lines do not float.

Polyester ropes can either be:
Beaten: consists of a number (usually 3) tangled strands. A line has beaten less than a stretch braided line from the same material and the core can never shoot out. A beaten line will easier tangle.

• Braided: consists of a braided line around a core. A braided line is less susceptible to damage, become less tangled and stretches more than a beaten line. It is also more comfortable in the hand.

Splicing polyester: a braided polyester line gets about 30% of the breaking strength of the cover. Hence, a lines with a polyester core and cover, the core must be spliced into the mantle.

Polypropene

Polypropene (formerly known as polypropylene) is a synthetic fiber with moderate wear resistance and low durability. Polypropylene lines are rough and pleasant to hold. They also stay afloat. Polypropylene is not as strong as nylon or polyester, but is much cheaper to produce. The qualities differ. The strength (and price) is reduces when no or poor UV treatment has occurred. Polypropylene is used primarily for mooring.

Vectran

Vectran is slightly weaker than Dyneema, but does not suffer from creep (elongation under continuous high load). At the same diameter, Vectran is five times stronger than steel. The line stretches barely (1.8%) and is very flexible to use. Because of these properties Vectran is suitable as halyard or backstay. As Vectran has poor UV resistance, the line should always have a cover.



Cruiser 16 rope



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