In the forty years that Leatherite have been manufacturing coated webbing, our products and processes have continued to evolve and we continue to develop new innovative webbing and strapping products to meet our customer’s needs. In recent times our customers have provided us with feedback confirming what we all know; the market is being flooded with overseas webbing and strapping of low quality. We are very confident in the product that we make at Leatherite and we regularly compare our product to the overseas manufactures, both at the budget end of the market and also to those claiming to be world leaders in the market. Now we believe it is time to share our findings. So let’s have a good look at the competition, very close up and personal!
The first sample to be put under the microscope (literally) comes out of Asia. This product is priced very keenly and, frankly, tack made from Leatherite webbing and strapping cannot compete on price with this budget end product, however does this make the import value for money? The sample of the overseas webbing and strapping products available to us was 19mm wide with the approximate thickness of our Apollo range, so the Leatherite webbing and strapping product selected for the comparison was 19mm Apollo.
The opening test that we conduct on our own Leatherite coated webbing product is the tear test. In this test we measure how much force is required to strip the outer polymer from the internal webbing using our Lloyd Instruments EZ50 testing unit. Although we have previously conducted tests on many overseas products from around the world, the results of this test were very unique. As you can see from the resultant graph, (budget end product in black, Leatherite coated webbing product in red), the bond strength was very inconsistent and not close to the force required to separate the Leatherite coated webbing product. The photographs of the stripped webbing confirm what the graph implies, there is no uniform application of the adhesive. One of our customers has seen first hand what premature de-lamination can do when a rider’s bridle failed through de-lamination after only two hours of riding. With the sharp edge of the polymer causing the horse discomfort, the rider had no choice but to stop until a replacement was found, which is not always possible.
The second test that we regularly use to monitor the quality of our coated webbing products is the tensile test, where we literally pull the product until it breaks, measuring the force required and the distance travelled. The graphs below show the tests for the overseas budget end product versus the equivalent Leatherite coated webbing product. The Leatherite coated webbing product has a significant 25% advantage when it comes to tensile strength over the overseas budget end product. For products such as reins or billet straps where the tensile strength of the coated webbing product is critical, the strength of the overseas budget end product would need to be taken into consideration and may be of some concern.
The final test that we put our own coated webbing product through is the eye cycle test. This is a critical test that replicates how the strapping will stand up to stress and tension with the introduction of a buckle. When testing our product, we use a range of loads and repetitions to ensure our webbing product will stand up to the harshest treatment. We selected one set of test parameters for this comparison. The overseas budget end product failed in the first repetition with the webbing tearing prior reaching the 120 kg of force set for the test. By comparison the Leatherite webbing and strapping product pictured was barely marked after completing 500 repetitions.
Although there is a short term financial gain by purchasing overseas budget end strapping or tack at the low end of the market, it is likely that this gain will be forfeited by the premature failure of the product when compared to the quality of the Australian made Leatherite coated product.
The previous comparison has been made with a product at the low end of the market. The product is significantly cheaper than Leatherite webbing strapping and one might say that you are getting what you pay for. So how does Leatherite coated webbing product compare with imports at the high end of the market? For this comparison we have used a high quality strapping made in the United States. It is a brand which is world renown for the quality of the product. We applied the same tests as we did with the cheaper import
For this series of tests we have once again selected an equivalent Leatherite coated webbing product, our PN series in 25mm. We are currently making significant advances in our adhesive blend and are achieving much higher results than the graph indicates, however at the time of the test with our current adhesive the Leatherite product (shown in black) still has a significant advantage over the import (shown in red). It is worth noting that, compared to the cheaper import, the adhesion levels of both products are at a consistent level throughout the test.
The tensile test comparison was closer in this case, with the imported product achieving within 15% of the tensile strength of the Leatherite coated webbing product.
The same parameters were used for the eye cycle test as was used for the cheaper product. Although the world class product fared better than the one cycle achieved in the early test, it also failed to reach the 500 repetitions set for the test. The product tore in less than 100 cycles, compared to the Leatherite coated webbing product that was barely marked after the 500 cycles.