I’m still investigating into whether I can (or should) make leather shoulder straps for my laptop briefcase, so I decided to look into other options just in case. I found out that most non-leather shoulder straps for laptop bags are made out of something called webbing: the most common webbing materials are nylon or polypropylene. Today was the first time I had ever used polypropolyene in a sentence. It reminded me of the word ”phenolphthalein” from high school chemistry class. I was told by more than one manufacturing expert that nylon is the best shoulder strap material because it’s durable and looks nice. Polypro (the slangword for polypropolyene for people in the know) is much less expensive than nylon, a whopping 50%+ cheaper, but it isn’t as durable. Another disadvantage is that the quality of the weaving for polypropolyene is not as nice as nylon.
I spent the entire morning calling webbing sales reps, trying to find brown nylon webbing that was at least 1.5 inches wide. Apparently this color is impossible to find in stock. Nearly every single sales person tried to either convince me that I should go with black nylon webbing (since that color was readily available), or that brown polypro webbing was a better deal. After 3+ hours of cold calls, I finally found 2 decent leads for the type of webbing I wanted. Things were looking bleak for a while.
Going back to an earlier blog post, I really do think that many laptop bags look the same because the options that are available are very limited. If companies don’t want black ballistic nylon exterior fabric and/or black nylon or polypropolyene webbing for their shoulder straps, they would need to pay a lot more money or wait a long time for other options to become available. Webbing mills produce large quantities of black webbing, and then manufacturers buy it because there isn’t much choice, and as a result this leads to fueling more demand for the product. It’s predictable, but frustrating.
I’m glad today is over. Hopefully the 2 leads for webbing will work out and I won’t have to write about polypropolyene ever again.