Which Rope is Stronger Than Steel?

Which Rope is Stronger Than Steel?

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Which Rope is Stronger Than Steel?

23 February, 2024

When it comes to strength and durability, we often think of steel as one of the toughest materials around. However, there is actually a type of rope that is pound-for-pound stronger than steel - ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) rope. In this blog post, we’ll look at what makes this rope so strong and why it outperforms steel.

UHMWPE rope, sometimes known by the brand name Dyneema, is made of extremely long molecular chains of polyethylene oriented in the same direction. This alignment and high molecular weight result in a rope with incredible tensile strength - up to 15 times stronger than steel on a weight-for-weight basis!


So what allows UHMWPE fibre rope to be superior to steel? There are a few key reasons:


Weight - Steel is nearly 3 times as dense as UHMWPE rope, meaning that the rope can do more work with less mass. This makes it ideal for lifting and pulling applications where excess weight is undesirable.

Flexibility - Unlike rigid steel, UHMWPE rope is flexible and easy to handle. It can be tied in knots, coiled, and bent around objects with no loss of strength. This versatility allows it to be used in many more applications than steel cable.

Corrosion Resistance - Steel is prone to corrosion and rusting when exposed to water or chemicals. But UHMWPE rope is completely impervious to water, UV light, and nearly all chemicals. It will retain its strength for many years even in harsh environments.

Fatigue Life - When steel is bent back and forth repeatedly, it suffers from metal fatigue and its strands may break. UHMWPE rope is highly resistant to fatigue and can be flexed and cycled many times without failure.

Now that we’ve compared the qualities of UHMWPE rope to steel, let’s look at some of its real-world uses:


Marine Applications - The coast guard, towing companies, and salvage operators use Dyneema rope for all kinds of marine tasks. Its combination of high strength and low weight makes it perfect for pulling, anchoring, and securing ships and other vessels.

Rope Access - Rope access technicians use UHMWPE ropes for descending skyscrapers, climbing bridges, and working along vertical structures. The ropes' durability, grip performance and ability to absorb shock are ideal for supporting the workers' weight.

Rigging - Venues, theatres, and production crews use UHMWPE rigging rope for overhead lifting, hoisting sets, speakers and lighting equipment. It provides the strength to securely lift heavy loads with less bulk than wire rope.

Rescue Lines - Fire departments, mountain rescue teams and other first responders use lightweight throw lines and litter bridles made of Dyneema. This helps them rapidly deploy lines and securely transport people without excess weight.

As you can see, this advanced rope material clearly outperforms steel in many regards. Pound-for-pound, UHMWPE fibre rope is the stronger, more durable, and more flexible choice for demanding applications in some of the toughest environments. Its unique properties allow this 21st century “super rope” to keep finding new uses across industries.

So next time you see a thick steel cable doing heavy work, remember that there may be a thinner, lighter rope that could do the job even better! If you have an application where material strength is paramount, UHMWPE rope is most likely the strongest solution available today.