The first to be made using a man-made fiber, twisted nylon rope was introduced in the 1950s (while most of this page refers to twisted nylon, the braided constructions share most of the basic properties).
Nylon Rope is Strong and it Absorbs Shock Loads
It quickly replaced manila in a number of applications due to it’s superior strength, easy handling, and abrasion resistance as well as its resistance to most chemicals, ability to absorb shock loads, and longer life.
Contractors specify it for use in a number of fall arrest applications such as positioning lanyards and vertical lifelines, as well as in lifting applications such as cargo nets, slings, and tow lines which benefit from its strength, durability, and ability to absorb shock loads.
While polyester and other synthetics have replaced ‘the original synthetic’ in some cases, especially where low stretch is important, it is still widely used in marine, industrial, recreational, climbing, and military applications, and is identified in a number of military specs:
MIL-C-17183B – a tubular (diamond) braided parachute cord.
MIL-R-1688F – a climbing rope used in mountaineering activities.
MIL-R- 17343D – twisted rope.
MIL- R-24050E -double braid rope (superseded by MIL-DTL-24050E).
MIL-C-43307B – solid braid – specified in a number of colors.
Please note: not all rope in these descriptions meet the above specifications, but can be produced to spec if ordered as such. A formal quotation is required here, as prices and quantity requirements may be higher and delivery times longer for these.
Relative ease of satisfying color requirements, especially for lower quantity orders, is one way nylon stands out vs. polyester : it can be dyed atmospheric pressure at not much above room temperature, while polyester requires temperatures well above boiling in pressurized vessels, generally with chemical assistance.
(a) – Rope made from nylon fiber are more absorbent than polyester or polypropylene, so they have poor dielectric properties, that is, they are more likely than polyester or polypropylene rope to conduct electrical current. They should not be used when doing tree trimming or other work near power lines.
(b) – The same properties that make this fiber a good choice for fall arrest systems make it a poor choice for pulling applications. Because it tends to stretch and quickly recover, it can snap back and release stored energy, which can cause injury if used to pull wire or cable, for ‘tug of war’, or for similar activities.