Looking for a rope that is stronger than steel, yet easy to handle?
HMPE could be just the ticket (one brand of HMPE is Dyneema®, which people may be familiar with).
And the good news? At RopesDirect, we’re a leading UK stockist and have excellent knowledge of this increasingly popular type of rope. Here our experts round up everything you need to know to get au fait with HMPE and decide if it’s the right product for you.
What is HMPE?
HMPE stands for High Modulus Polyethylene. It’s also commonly referred to as UHMWPE (Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene) and HPPE (High-Performance Polyethylene).
HMPE ropes are high-performance ropes, with a diverse range of useful properties that make them ideal for many industrial and marine applications.
First and foremost, they have an incredible strength-to-weight ratio. In fact, they’re one of the strongest ropes currently available to buy – at least eight times stronger than hardened steel. This means you can either handle heavier loads or use a thinner gauge of rope for the job you’re working on.
What is HMPE used for?
HMPE is often used as an alternative to steel wire rope. Not only is it stronger, it’s also thinner, lighter and self-lubricating – and, therefore, is significantly easier to handle. This can lead to savings, both in terms of time and cost, and makes it a popular choice across many different industries.
For example, HMPE ropes are now frequently used in marine industries – where conditions are wet and harsh – as well as mountaineering and arboriculture. Typical applications include:
- industrial winching
- towing heavy objects
- mooring lines
- cranes and pulley systems
- deep-water installations
- trawl nets and ropes
- anchor ropes
- yacht ropes
- conveyor lines
- fishing lines
- water sports
- church bell ringing
Due to its self-lubricating fibres, HMPE isn’t recommended if you need a rope that will hold knots.
How is HMPE rope made?
HMPE is a fibre with extremely long molecule chains.
Initially, to create the HMPE fibres, a patented ‘gel spinning’ process is employed. A solvent is added to polyolefin resin to create a solution. The solution is then spun, causing some of the solvent to evaporate – whilst the fibres are extruded and stretched.
This ‘spinning and stretching’ process leads to molecular alignment, which is why HMPE has long molecular chains. It also stretches the fibres to many times their original length. And once the process is complete, you’re left with a very tough material that can be woven to create HMPE rope.
Are HMPE and Dyneema® the same thing?
HMPE is the general name given for this type of rope (i.e. rope made from high modulus polyethylene) whereas, Dyneema® is a particular brand name for HMPE ropes. Think of vacuum cleaners and Hoover…
Generic HMPE ropes and Dyneema® ropes are both made in the same way and, essentially, they share the same properties. They just tend to differ slightly in terms of their price. And here at RopesDirect, we stock both in a range of colours and diameters (to suit all requirements).
What are the properties of HMPE rope?
As well as their strength, HMPE ropes also benefit from:
- excellent durability
- a low-density construction, which allows them to float on water
- resistance to chemicals
- resistance to UV rays
- superior abrasion resistance
- self-lubrication (with a low coefficient of friction)
- ultra-low stretch (3-4% at breaking load)
- low electrical conductivity
Think HMPE is the right option for you?
Browse our full online collection today. We have a comprehensive range of HMPE and Dyneema° ropes to choose from, including Dyneema® braid and 12-strand HMPE. All of which are priced affordably, starting from just 96p per metre, and available for immediate dispatch from our warehouse.
Or, if you’re still unsure of the best product for your requirements, more information on HMPE can be found on our site. And it’s worth checking out our online tool, RopeFinder – which will help you to narrow down your search and select the ideal type of rope for your application.