ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Is Rope Made?

Updated on January 11, 2012

The first ropes were knotted together from leather thongs, pieces of bark, or even roots. The ancient Egyptians made ropes from vegetable fibers, and these resemble the ropes made today.

Rope and Rope-making

Rope is a term applied to the larger dimensions of twisted fibers or steel wires. Fiber rope of smaller diameters up to approximately I em is usually regarded as cordage. Thread is composed of two or three twisted yarns and twine is made of a dozen yarns or so. Cord is made of three or more strands while string comes under the heading of cord or twine. The general method of manufacture is the same in all cases-the yarns are twisted together into strands and the strands twisted together to form the rope. A hawser-laid rope consists of three strands; a cable or cable-laid rope is composed of three such hawsers twisted together. A shroud-laid rope has a central strand with three or four strands twisted around it. Some cordage, and sometimes rope, is plaited to give greater flexibility. Various fibers have been used in rope-making, but sisal and manila are the most widely used. Hemp, jute, and coir are used to some degree locally.

Cotton is also used for ropes and cordage for certain applications such as driving wheels.

The processes of fiber rope-making involve hackling, to separate the fibers in the rather tangled 'raw' state and to lay them parallel to each other. After this the fibers are spun and then the ends are passed through holes in a register-plate, and as the machinery revolves the yarns are automatically twisted together into strands. A further extension of this process twists the strands together to form the rope. The advent of man-made fibers made a great impact on rope-making. Ropes of nylon, terylene, and polypropylene are being increasingly used for sporting and many industrial applications. The method of manufacture is very similar to that of natural fibers. Fibrillated polypropylene is being used to replace sisal for domestic and light industrial cordage. The low melting point of this fiber does cause some problems but allows the cordage to be cut and the ends sealed with hot wire cutters.

Wire rope is used for many industrial applications, on cranes, excavators, drilling rigs, for suspension bridges, aerial ropeways, and as a method of roof suspension.

The principles of wire rope-making are broadly similar to those of fiber rope manufacture in that high-tensile steel wires are twisted together to form strands which are further twisted together to form the rope.

Many types of constructions are available depending on the type of duty for which they are to be used. In general the greater the number of wires used, the greater is the flexibility of the rope. A development of great importance is pre-formed rope, in which the wires and strands forming the rope are, during the manufacturing process, given the exact helix which they take in the completed rope. There is far less internal stress with pre-formed rope and the rope has a longer life.

How is Rope Made?

All fiber used in making ropes is generally called "hemp," but it may come from many different plants. The best rope material is the fiber of a plant called the abaca, which grows in the Philippines. This fiber is generally known as Manila hemp. It is easier to work with and stronger than other forms of hemp. The century plant of Mexico provides a material for making rope and so does coconut fiber. Rope can be made from cotton and flax fibers, but it is too expensive for general use.

Until the 19th century ropes were made entirely by hand on rope-walks. These were long, low buildings in which the ropemaker walked backward, step by step, unwinding the fibers from about his waist. At the upper end of the walk, a boy turned a wheel to which one end of the rope yarn was attached. This wheel kept twisting the yarn while it was being spun.

Today almost all rope is made by machinery. The fibers are passed through a series of machines called breakers, which look like steel combs. They comb the fibers out thoroughly, clean out the dirt, straighten out the snarls, and turn the rough mass of fibers into a "sliver." This is a straight, continuous ribbon of loose threads, equal in thickness. These slivers are sent to the spinning machines. Here they are twisted into yarn and the yarn is wound onto spools or bobbins.

The bobbins are mounted on a revolving disk. The yarn is put through a metal tube which presses the separate pieces together and as it comes out it is twisted together into a strand. Then the same process takes three or four of these strands and twists them together to make a rope.

Each time the fibers are twisted the twist is made in the opposite direction from the last one. In this way the different twists counterbalance each other and keep the rope from untwisting.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 

      10 years ago

      This is an interesting topic and would make a good science school project.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)