Nylon rope is a synthetic cordage variety constructed of nylon fibers. Nylon is a synthetic polymer that was first produced by DuPont in 1935. Nylon is characterized by abrasion resistance, heat and corrosion resistance, rot resistance and other favorable physical qualities. Because ropes are used for securing and load bearing, these qualities are very attractive to professionals in the marine, agriculture, defense contracting, construction and many other industries in which ropes play an important role.
Nylon ropes can be used to secure bales in farming and palletized cargo on ships. They are used extensively as mooring lines at docks and shipyards; mooring lines are ropes that are used to secure watercraft at ports. Nylon ropes are particularly well suited to watercraft mooring applications because of their resistance to rot and their capacity to withstand constant stress. The only major drawback to the use of nylon ropes in marine contexts is nylon’s non-buoyancy; if accidentally dropped in water, an unattached nylon rope will sink. Polypropylene, which is buoyant, is a popular alternative to nylon mooring line for use with small watercraft.
Nylon rope was the first synthetic fiber rope manufactured and is still a very popular form of rope due to its many favorable attributes. Nylon rope typically lasts four to five times longer than natural fiber ropes. Rope has been an essential utility for civilization since before recorded history. For centuries, ropes of twisted or braided natural fiber were used by navies and merchants for mooring, by construction companies during building and in many other contexts. In industrial and commercial contexts, the use of natural fiber ropes has been all but completely eclipsed by the use of synthetic fibers like nylon. The benefits of synthetic fiber rope use are not without cost.
Most synthetic fibers are derived from petrochemical products, the extraction and processing of which come with immense financial and environmental costs. While synthetic polymer development accounts for only a fraction of global petrochemical products demand, it is a significant percentage. For these and other reasons, some companies still choose natural fibers or non-petroleum-based synthetic fibers. Such ropes can still be suitable for demanding applications if properly cared for and matched to their intended uses. However, nylon rope and similar synthetic fiber-based ropes are much more popular and often less expensive compared to alternative compositions.