Braided rope – what is it?
The construction method of any rope, braided or twisted, can tell us a lot about its performance and utility. The rope’s shape, strength, and general characteristics can all be impacted by the construction of the rope.
Between twisted and braided ropes, braided ropes are more common today due to their versatility in application. Twisted ropes, although generally more affordable and easier to splice, are not as strong as braided rope and therefore struggle with higher loads.
There are several different types of braided rope. The single braid is often used as a temporary lashing. These braided ropes are formed by braiding together 8 to 10 thin fibres into a tubular braid, which means that it is often not perfectly round. The most common material used to create the single braid is polypropylene and nylon, or UHMWPE for higher load applications.
A double braid is durable and strong, making it a popular choice for many marine and industrial uses. It is constructed with two single braids, one inside the other. Double braids are available in a variety of materials; in some cases, every single braid is constructed of different materials to ensure the right balance of strength, flexibility, and durability for the job at hand. Typically, the exterior material will provide abrasion and weather/UV resistance while the interior material provides the strength and load bearing characteristics. A common example of this would be Polyester exterior (or cover) and UHMWPE interior (known as the core).
The third type of braided rope is kernmantle, a specialized rope with a braided shell but internal twisted fibres. Less common than the double or single braid, kernmantle braided ropes are popular for rock climbing due to their combined stretch and strength characteristics.
Any type of braided rope will not unravel as easily as twisted rope, making them longer lasting and more reliable. They can, however, twist if used consistently as part of a winch system. A well-made braided rope is constructed using fibres that are aligned in a single direction and overlap in a certain manner. In most applications, a braided rope will offer a performance advantage over a twisted rope of the same materials, although it may come at a higher price.