Netting; An Intuitive Guide to Nets

The term netting covers a vast range of items; from plastic netting fences that many use in their gardens, to heavy duty lifting nets used by contractors. Considering this, it can be quite difficult to a customer outside of the industry to select what type of net they need for their particular application, not to mention to understand the differences between the many choices available. This article aims to help our customers understand what choices are available to them and what each type of net can offer towards its common usage scenarios.

So what exactly is a net?

Before diving into many of the different types of netting available it can be helpful to understand what constitutes a net. Merriam-Webster.com defines a net as “an open-meshed fabric twisted, knotted, or woven together at regular intervals” and netting as “material consisting of pieces of string, rope, wire, etc., that are woven together with open spaces left in between... material that is used to make nets” . These are perhaps the simplest definition of a net and lend themselves to easy identification of a nets components, which often can be so varied that it becomes difficult to discern what makes each specimen a net.

Anatomy of a Net

Netting Material Selections

Arguably the most important component of a net is the type of material that it is made from. The material defines or contributes some of the most important qualities of a net. This often includes tensile strength, working load limit, resistance to various environmental factors such as UV rays, heat and fire, water, mold or rot, and abrasive contacts.

Rope

All Kinds of Rope for Netting

Rope is one of the most common requested materials when we take orders for nets. This is understandable when taking into account the wide variety of rope materials available and their flexibility in the construction of custom netting. Here is a brief outline of the types of rope we offer, their properties, common sizes, and common usage scenarios.

 

Natural manila

Manila Rope

One of the easiest ropes to identify, and one of the most commonly used is manila rope. Manila rope has a classic look and feel along with all-purpose utility for rugged jobs, recreation or decoration. You may have used it for swings as a child, seen it as decoration in nautical themed restaurants, parks, and landscaping. It can be used for a variety of utility purposes as well, such as towing and rigging. It is also commonly requested for tug of war, obstacle courses, and other sports competition uses.

Natural manila rope offers superior strength, knotting, and splicing capability at a cost effective price and is the strongest natural fiber rope available. Manila rope also has a low stretch and is heat and UV resistant, making it perfect for outdoor uses. Manila rope is commonly available in diameters ranging from 1" with a 8,100 lbs minimum strength, to a 3” diameter with 57,600 lbs strength.

Promanila

Promanila Rope

Polypropylene manila rope, also known as pro manila rope or polypro manila rope, is stronger than natural manila and also less expensive. Pro manila rope does not shrink or rot as natural manila does. It also does not have irritating fibers or odor, but still achieves the classic manila rope look. Pro manila rope lasts on average 3 times longer than manila rope and is great for marine and outdoor uses. Flexible and smooth, this rope is great for climbing applications.

Poly Dacron

Poly dacron Rope

Poly Dacron is a composite rope made using polypropylene and Dacron plastic fiber. Dacron has been a trademarked by DuPont™ since 1950. Poly is the industry term meaning polymer strands, most often comprised of polypropylene, that are used when braiding or manufacturing rope. Dacron is used for the outer braid or jacket, while polypropylene serves as the core, offering added strength while remaining lightweight and cost effective.

Poly Dacron Rope is often found in use on boats and for other marine applications as well as climbing and tie down applications. It is known for its low stretch, high grip, and flexibility over its extended lifespan. Poly Dacron Rope is readily available in diameter sizes of ½” with a strength of 4,000 lbs to 1” with a strength of 12,000 lbs.

Nylon

Nylon Rope

Nylon rope has superior strength and is very durable. Nylon is UV and chemical resistant. It can be found in use for towing heavy loads and weight bearing applications, pulley systems and winches, fall protection rigs, and rescue applications. Solid braid nylon remains firm and retains shape when used with pulleys but cannot be spliced. Three strand nylon rope has excellent shock absorption and is easy to splice.

For superior strength and remarkable stretching capabilities, nylon is the rope of choice. Stronger than both manila and polypropylene, nylon commonly finds itself pulling the heaviest loads and bearing the most weight. Having superior strength, nylon also maintains a smooth surface and abrasion resistance making it ideal for pulley systems or winches. Also, different fall protection systems or rescue line assemblies are constructed from nylon rope. Within these applications, the strength and elasticity of nylon netting will be most beneficial.

While both manila and polypropylene are susceptible to UV damage, nylon rope is resistant to UV, chemical exposure or any other form of rot. Despite the fact that water can weaken the strength of nylon, this effect is so slight that nylon is still commonly used for mooring lines and anchor lines. In fact, nylon rope is a great choice for any tie-down because of its strength, stretch and sustenance in any environment. The all-around durability of nylon rope makes it useful for any job in any situation.

Solid braid and three strand nylon rope is available in diameters from 1/8 inch to 2 inch and is sold by the foot or bulk spool. 2 inch three strand nylon rope has a tensile strength of 92,000 lbs!

Kevlar™

Kevlar™ Rope

Kevlar™ is an aramid fiber from DuPont™ with more pound for pound strength than steel. 1 inch twelve strand single braid Kevlar™ rope has a breaking strength of 78,000 lbs. Superior strength, smooth surface, and abrasion resistance makes Kevlar™ rope one of the easiest ropes to recommend. Kevlar™ rope will also not twist or unravel. Low electrical conductivity, high chemical resistance, and high heat tolerance allow it to be used in a wide range of environments. Kevlar™ rope also self extinguishes when ignited. 12 strand Kevlar™ rope is easy to splice. The weight factor has a lot to do with using Kevlar™. Kevlar™ is a lot more flexible in high strength applications.

Few innovations in the past century have been as remarkable and useful as Kevlar™ invented in 1965 and produced by DuPont™. Among its many uses, Kevlar™ materials have been used for bullet-proof armor and flame resistant material. Kevlar™ rope is no less remarkable. Pound for pound, Kevlar™ rope is far stronger than steel and it will not rust. For this reason, Kevlar™ rope is used as mooring lines on oil rigs and ships. While nylon rope has certain elastic abilities, Kevlar™ rope will not stretch at all, making it the best choice when complete stability is needed.

Because of its polymeric properties, Kevlar™ material is susceptible to UV light and should not be permanently exposed to UV rays. Unlike any other rope, Kevlar™ rope is flame resistant. This rope can resist temperatures 160° C before it begins to weaken, and Kevlar™ will only strengthen when exposed to subzero temperatures.[1] One should be aware of any signs of wear on Kevlar™ rope, as the integrity of the rope can be more seriously compromised than the damage appears. Kevlar™’s qualities are best demonstrated in extreme temperature conditions, or any time sheer strength is required.

Available in 12 strand single braid Kevlar™ rope, diamond braid Kevlar™ rope, and Kevlar™ Core rope. A wide variety of diameters and spool sizes are available.

Polypropylene Rope

Polypro Rope

Polypropylene ropes are synthetic and possess a variety of unique qualities. Polypropylene rope is particularly suited for use around water and will not rot due to water and is resistant to mildew. This rope is also produced in a variety of colors making it a common choice for barriers at golf courses, parks or even power plants.

Dielectric ability is an important quality of polypropylene rope. Should this rope touch a live electrical wire it will not conduct the electric current. Because polypropylene rope acts as an insulator, electricians and tree workers who work around live electrical wires use polypropylene rope. When using this rope for hauling or hoisting, attention should be given to any abrasions against the rope as it can melt from friction. Because polypropylene floats, it is also used to designate swimming lanes in pools. Commercial fishermen commonly utilize this rope for crab and lobster lines. It can also be used for buoy moorings and aquaculture.

Webbing

webbing

Webbing is a flat strip of woven fabric that is often used in place of rope. Webbing was originally made from cotton but is now most commonly found made from synthetic fibers such as polyester, polypropylene, nylon, and Kevlar™. You use webbing everyday in your car as a seatbelt, and probably as a leash or collar for your pets. Some belts and sandals also use webbing. Webbing is synonymous with netting to the general public, although it is just one of the many materials used in the construction of nets.

Here at US Netting we use webbing to make everything from cargo nets to debris nets, lifting slings and nets, and even the jetpack harnesses seen in Men in Black 3. Due to the wide variety of webbing materials available and their varied uses it is a common component in many of our customers' projects.

View some variations and prices

Polyester

webbing

Polyester webbing has a great strength at any width yet has a soft touch. Does not stretch like nylon webbing and is also more cost effective than nylon. Polyester webbing is UV resistant and will not rot or mildew. At one 1 inch width it has a minimum breaking strength of 6,000 pounds and 12,000 pounds at 2 inch wide.

Polypropylene

webbing

Polypropylene webbing is a inexpensive yet durable and versatile material. Has excellent resistance to mildew, acids, oil, and grease. Has a melting point of 320 degrees F and does not absorb water. Has a tensile strength of 700 pounds at one inch width and 1,400 pounds at 2 inch width. Superior product for indoor/outdoor applications.

Nylon

webbing

Strong and abrasion resistant with a excellent resistance to mildew and a longer life span than polypropylene. Has a melting point of 450 degrees F. Absorbs water. Has a tensile strength of 3,800 pounds at 1 inch width and 7,600 lbs at 2 inch width.

Kevlar™

webbing

With many of the same properties as Kevlar™ rope, this high strength Kevlar™ webbing makes some of the strongest nets available. Light weight and abrasion resistant. Flame and heat resistant, passes NFPA 1971/1981 Heat Test and NFPA 1971/1981 Flame Test.

Mesh Netting

Mesh netting is netting made from plastic resins or knitted synthetic fibers. You can purchase mesh netting by the roll or purchase custom made panels that incorporate knitted mesh netting. These nets are often used in applications where large areas need to be covered with uniform protection. Often used to line fences, batting cages or driving ranges, ponds, gardens, and other enclosures to prevent debris, pests, and stray sporting balls from entering or exiting the enclosure.

Plastic Extruded Mesh Netting

Extruded Net

Extruded mesh netting is made by melting and pressurizing plastic beads that then are injected into a die. This is then cooled and hardened into the desired mesh pattern. Extruded mesh netting is preferred for applications prioritizing high strength rather than covering a large area. Examples of such uses include filtration applications or barrier applications for heavier items. This is due to its increased thickness, and therefore higher manufacturing cost. When a customer is more concerned about covering a large square footage we often recommend oriented plastic netting, which is thinner and therefore more cost effective, but lacking the superior strength of extruded mesh netting.

Plastic Oriented Mesh Netting

Oriented Mesh Netting

Plastic netting can be oriented after the extrusion process by being reheated and stretched. The stretch can be made either in the Machine direction, which is along the length of the material in the direction that comes off of the machine, or in the cross direction, which is along the width of the roll from one end to the other, or in both directions. This process creates lightweight, flat, cost effective plastic netting.

Oriented mesh netting is desirable over extruded mesh netting in applications that require covering a large area such as a fence or other enclosures. This is due to the lower cost caused by the difference in manufacturing processes. Common examples of uses for oriented mesh netting include pest control for your garden or pond and bird control for agricultural or public gathering areas.

Knitted

Knitted mesh netting is made using processes similar to most textile manufacturing. The use of synthetic yarn allows for extreme flexibility in the net itself and therefore flexibility in its applications. The different synthetic fibers available offer various advantages over one another, and can be important to consider when designing and ordering a net. Knitted mesh netting also comes in two varieties: knotted and knotless. Knotless nets may have an initial benefit of extended durability and strength over knotted netting, but after a knotless net suffers structural damage it cannot be easily repaired, unlike knotted mesh nets which can periodically repaired over time.

Knitted Mesh
White Knitted Net
Black knitted with debris
Black Knitted Net w/ Debris
Knotted Twine Netting
Knotted Twine
Red Knitted
Red Knitted Net

Polypropylene

Knitted knotless polypropylene mesh netting is a high tenacity multi-filament netting that comes in a wide variety of colors. Knotless polypropylene netting is also available in many cord diameters and mesh sizes, all with their own breaking strengths and best use cases. UV stabilizers are added making this netting well suited for outdoor use. Our nets built with polypropylene mesh netting are bordered or hemmed on all four sides, and can be bought by the square foot or as a component of a custom net solution.

Knitted knotless polypropylene mesh netting is often used by our customers for sporting applications, decorative uses, crop protection, and other general uses.

Nylon

Knitted nylon mesh netting offers high strengths at the cost of low environmental resistances. Its tendency to absorb water leads to rotting, shrinkage, and color loss. Outdoor use can lead to significant loss of breaking strength over years of continued use. This makes it more suited to frequent indoor uses.

Polyethylene

Made from inherently UV resistant polymers, knitted polyethylene netting offers substantial environmental advantages over nylon netting, but has a lower breaking strength. Polyethylene netting will not absorb water and doesn't rot and retains 90% of its strength during its lifespan. These qualities make it great for extended outdoor usage. Cheaper on average than nylon mesh netting, polyethylene mesh netting is a great choice for both indoor and outdoor users on a budget.

Wire Rope

Wire Net

Our wire and cable nets come with hand spliced loops for simple and secure attachment to standard hardware and other attachment points. These nets are great for when strength is of utmost concern but flexibility is also needed. This makes them well suited for protecting from boulders, falling concrete, and other large irregularly shaped debris. Wire nets can often be seen lining hills and cliffs to protect roads, structures, and people from landsliding debris such as falling rocks and trees. When used beneath elevated construction sites, wire and cable nets can catch enormous falling debris before it can reach lower levels.

Wire rope nets retain strength in water and are immune to rot and the majority of chemical and other environmental factors. We make these nets in any mesh size required by the customer and can be made using 1/16th inch to 1/2 inch diameters. You can select between galvanized and stainless steel wire rope when ordering your wire rope nets. Galvanized wire rope is more cost effective, and slightly stronger than stainless steel wire rope. Where stainless steel rope excels is in higher visibility, environmental resistances to rust, and overall durability in prolonged use.

Net Construction

Width and Diameter

When ordering a net one of the most basic choices to be made after selecting a material type is what width of webbing, what diameter of rope, or what twine size of knitted mesh netting to use. As a rule of thumb webbing at 2 inch wide is stronger than webbing of the same material at 1 inch wide. The same can be said about rope at larger diameters and knitted mesh netting at larger twine sizes.

Mesh and Opening Sizes

Be sure to consider your mesh and opening sizes when designing a net. These specifications are affected by use cases in that they decide what can get through the net and what cannot, as well as factoring into overall net strength. Smaller mesh sizes will let less things pass through the net, but will drive cost slightly higher due to more material being used per square unit of the net. Larger mesh sizes will let larger items pass through, but will be more cost effective due to less material being used per square unit of the net. With square mesh netting, measurement is taken from knot to knot to calculate mesh size. Nets made with webbing measure opening size from the center of the width of one side of a webbing square to the center of the opposite side webbing strap of that same square.

Diagram example of mesh/ opening size

Overlap and Stitching

Overlap of netting materials and stitching contribute to overall net strength and cost. Typically more material makes a stronger net, but also costs more. Excessive overlap is not often an issue for the machines in our facility, as we encourage efficient design when working with customers to develop custom netting solutions, but sometimes a job requires many layers of material to be overlapped. This is not a problem because our sewing machines can sew up to an inch and a half of material.

Stitching capability example
Sewing capability example closup

We also offer a variety of stitch type, from basic box stitches to military specification stitches, in a variety of thread types and colors.

Thick Beautiful Stitch

Borders

When designing a net borders are an important feature for strength and functionality. Borders add strength, durability, and utility to custom net designs and can be made from various materials including but not limited to rope, webbing, vinyl, wire rope or cable, elastic shock cord, or even chain. Borders allow for various types of attachment and can include grommets and other hardware.

Webbing Bordered Net
Webbing Border
Vinyl Bordered Net
Vinyl Border Net
Rope Bordered Net
Rope Border Net
Special Custom Border
Custom Bordered Net

Lining

Various lining methods are available when purchasing custom netting. Debris liners can be added to cargo and other types of nets to prevent passage of debris large and small. Safety lining can applied to custom nets to add additional fall safety protection when personnel safety is a concern. Our sales engineers will assist you in choosing the most appropriate liners for your specific application.

Debris Lined Netting
Debris Liner with Net
Vinyl Bordered Net
Green Debris Liner
Rope Bordered Net
White Debris Liner
Special Custom Border
Black Debris Liner

Hardware

Hardware is one of the most important things to consider when designing a custom netting solution. Without hardware you would have a hard time attaching your net to surfaces or points of application. Hardware also allows for easy adjustment of nets for secure and tight fits.

Common Netting Hardware

We offer a wide variety of standard hardware for use with your nets. These include items such as snap hooks, rings, ratchets, cam buckles, and many more pieces of hardware. We also can design and fabricate custom hardware to accommodate any of your application's needs. For more info on netting hardware view our short hardware attachment video guide.

General considerations

Here are some general questions to answer that help cover basic design issues to be considered when ordering a net:

  • What sort of strength requirements are involved in your job?
  • What environmental factors will be acting on your net?
  • Is debris containment a requirement?
  • Does your net need to be approved for fall safety?
  • What kind of attachment points will be used on site?
  • Will the area being covered or secured by your net vary?

Standard categorical classification of nets.

Standard nets

We sell many different types of standard net configurations in specified square footage. These nets can be separated into three categories : Commercial Netting, All Purpose Netting, and Sports Netting. Commercial netting includes items such as Loading Dock Safety Nets, rope cargo nets, truck and trailer cargo nets, and general cargo nets. All Purpose Netting is netting that has many different uses for each net type. These include bird netting, pond netting, shade cloth, decorative rope netting, and privacy fence. Sports netting includes nets for specific sports and outdoor uses such as hockey nets, batting cage nets, camouflage nets, gym curtains and nets, and mosquito nets.

Custom Nets

US Netting Inc. specializes in custom netting design and fabrication. We can use any material available to create a custom netting solution for any job you may have. As you have seen the choices to consider when making a net are many. This means that the possibilities are nearly endless when designing a net. Our list of customers is constantly growing and includes high profile organizations such as NASA and companies supplying netting for film and television productions. These customers have relied on our knowledge and quality workmanship for some of their most important jobs and trust the level of safety and utility that our products provide. Just fill out a custom net request for quote or call us today and our sales engineers can help you begin putting our years of experience and expertise to work for you.