Rope suppliers produce an extensive variety of cords in varying compositions and braiding and twisting patterns. Cords are among the oldest utilities in existence, and their use predates recorded history. They are essential in a great diversity of industrial, commercial and consumer products contexts.
Ropes have been put to use in construction, building maintenance, sports and a host of other industrial, commercial and recreational contexts for centuries, and their use continues today. Ropes are particularly important marine components; the safe and reliable mooring of ships at ports and docks would be impossible without cordage. In order to accommodate all of the different contexts in which cordage is applied, a wide variety of cordage compositions and configurations are available.
Historically, natural fibers like manila, cotton and hemp were used in the construction of ropes. With the development of synthetic materials like nylon and polypropylene, natural fibers began to decrease in prominence in favor of synthetic fibers. Synthetic fibers, when applied in marine contexts, offer superior qualities of strength and resistance to the hazards of long term moisture and salt exposure to which maritime cordage is constantly subjected. These benefits were realized by rope users in other contexts as well, and they have surpassed natural fiber ropes in terms of frequency of use in most applications.
Each of the different cordage varieties offers its own set of unique qualities. Polypropylene, for example, is popular in marine contexts because of its low cost and natural buoyancy. Especially in the case of recreational watercraft use, small polypropylene docking lines are useful because they will not sink if accidentally dropped in water. Nylon rope is prized for its capacity for withstanding shock without breaking; such qualities are useful in marine applications as well as in construction, both of which contexts involve the pulling or securing of heavy loads.
Elastic cords are essential in many shipping contexts as well as in consumer load hauling applications. They range in length from tens of feet to just a few feet, and they are usually affixed with metal hooks on each end that can fasten together, to other elastic cords or other objects. Many other kinds of synthetic and natural cordage are applied in many other contexts. The most important considerations in advance of cord application are suitability of cord composition and the demands of its application.