Reinforced Fabrics: Vinyl, Polyethylene and Polypropylene and When to Use Each

Industrial fabrics are designed to offer strength and durability. High-wear situations, exposure to the elements and military applications require reinforced fabrics. Often, these fabrics may be laminated or coated in vinyl to be more resistant to punctures or tears. Polyethylene and polypropylene are two other common polymers used in the manufacturing of industrial fabrics. What do these three types of reinforced fabrics have in common, and what situations call for the use of which one?

Reinforced polypropylene fabric
Reinforced polypropylene

Vinyl

Vinyl fabrics can be created in a variety of types, textures and colors, making them very versatile. We offer a wide range of vinyl products, including our transparent vinyl welding curtains and vinyl coated polyester sports tarps, among many others. Industrial tarps, awnings and other window-coverings are typically manufactured using vinyl or vinyl coatings, offering protection and versatility for outdoor consumer products.

Polyethylene

Look under your kitchen sink or in your bathroom and you’ll likely find products made with polyethylene–it’s the world’s most common plastic. Polyethylene is used to make a wide variety of products including grocery bags, shampoo bottles and many children’s toys. Clearly versatile, polyethylene has a very simple structure and is fairly inexpensive to make. Luckily, it is also one of the easiest types of plastic to recycle in the United States (at least the high-density form). Surprising uses include in bullet proof vests — ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene, or UHMWPE, is such a strong fiber it can replace Kevlar — or in large sheets to replace ice in ice rinks. Design-wise, polyethylene can also be desirable in situations that require clear fabrication; the polymer can be produced optically clear, or “see-through.”

We offer a range of polyethylene products, including flame retardant options for warehouses or other high-heat industries.

Polypropylene

Another vinyl polymer, polypropylene can be used as both a plastic and a fiber, making it very versatile. As a plastic, polypropylene is used to make things like dishwasher-safe containers. As a fiber, polypropylene can be used for indoor-outdoor carpeting, like what you’d find at miniature golf courses or around swimming pools. It works well in these outdoor situations because the fibers can be colored easily, and polypropylene does not absorb water. More fiber polypropylene uses include upholstery, like on boats or deck furniture. Unlike polyethylene, polypropylene cannot be produced clear, but can be made translucent like milk jugs.

Which type do I need?

Vinyl, polyethylene and polypropylene are versatile industrial fabric options. So how do you know when to use which one? First, consider the application. Do you need increased durability, a specific color or water protection? What about cost requirements? The experts at Mauritzon are here to answer any questions and help you select the best product for your situation.

PVC Strip Doors
PVC Strip Doors

Between polypropylene and polyethylene, polypropylene is considered to be more resistant to chemicals and organic solvents than polyethylene, so it might be a better bet for manufacturing facilities. Polypropylene is also less flexible, so consider your need for a stretchable fabric before deciding between the two.

This is only a general overview of the different kinds of industrial textile materials; contact us with any questions at info@mauritzon.net or toll free at 800-621-4352. We would love to help you find the perfect industrial textile products you need!