Choosing A Zipper Based on Teeth Material

zip teeth
from left to right: nylon coil zipper teeth/metal zipper teeth/plastic zipper teeth

Zippers come in varying types and sometimes choosing one can be a daunting and confusing task with so many options available. Not only that, but also there are many ways to classify a zipper, the difference of the slider, the functionality, the material of which it’s made, etc.

One of the easiest ways to distinguish a zipper is by studying its teeth and the material of which it is made. Below we will learn about the types and what each type is generally applied to.

1. Nylon Coil Zippers
In this zipper, the teeth/elements are made from coiled nylon monofilament. Although polyesters are more popularly used nowadays instead of nylons, the name nylon coil zippers sticks. The coil is sewn to a zipper tape to make the final product.

Because of its durability and versatility, nylon coil zippers are the most popular choice among the other two types we’ll discuss below, and can be utilized in anything from garments and luggage to sporting equipment and even automobiles. But because of its durability, it is mainly used in outdoor apparels and luggage like tents and other camping apparels, backpacks and suitcases.

Below are some of the advantages and unique characteristics of nylon coil zippers:

  • Strong durability. i.e. when our luggage is fully stuffed, it tends to stretch the zippers horizontally. Nylon coil zippers can hold the luggage from exploding.
  • More flexible than toothed zippers. It is particularly useful in equipment like tents and sportswear that require flexibility.
  • Easy to repair during tooth malfunction. Most of the time it can fix itself by simply zipping and unzipping.
  • The coil can be used bi-directional opposed to a one-directional tooth, which means the slider can be attached in either direction  and it will still function. Particularly useful in two-way zippers application.

Invisible Zippers
Technically still a nylon coil zipper, invisible zipper is deemed a special mention due to its unique design and functionality.

There are technically two ways of manufacturing an invisible zipper. The first is to sew pleats of the zipper tape into the seam of the garment, commonly a dress or skirt. This gives a clean finish and the zipper can be categorized as a true invisible zipper. Common applications are on female apparel such as skirts, blouses and dresses.

The other way is to reverse a nylon coil zipper so that it is oriented backward, giving it an invisible look from the outside. This kind of zipper is commonly used when there’s a need for a larger gauge than a true invisible zipper can manage, and is called an invisible identical zipper. Although a bit uncommon, this kind of zipper can be found on luggage and even apparels.

2. Plastic Molded Zippers
As the name suggests, the teeth/elements of this zipper are made from high-performance resin, such as acetal polymer, which is extruded, molded and injected individually onto the tapes.

Commonly found on apparels and handbags. Because of the plastic’s ability to be dyed to match the garment colors, plastic molded zippers are usually chosen for aesthetics considerations.

Some notable characteristics of plastic zippers are:

  • Plastic molded zippers have a relatively high durability and flexibility.
  • Molded perfectly symmetrical on both sides. Like the nylon coil zipper, the slider can be attached on both ends.
  • Easy to be dyed and colored, allowing matching color with the garment.
  • Common malfunction happens when one of the teeth breaks off. In that case, mostly it demands a complete replacement.

3. Metal Zippers
Metal zippers can be made with different types of metal and can come in varying gauge sizes. Most common metals used to make zippers are aluminum, gunmetal, nickel and antique nickel and brass with its antique variety. The most common reason of using metal zippers are based on fashion and aesthetics, with the zipper completing the overall look of the apparel. One example of this case is  jeans, which are almost exclusively characterized by a relatively large gauge metal zipper.

Metal zippers are commonly found on handbags, overalls, and as mentioned, denim and jeans. Some metal zippers undergo special processing to produce smooth, shining finish and are known as luxury zippers.

Notable characteristics of metal zippers are:

  • Very durable, but cannot withstand horizontal stretches as plastic and coiled zippers can.
  • As it’s made from metal, it is less flexible.
  • The teeth rarely break off, but when it does the zipper can only be permanently fixed by replacing it completely. For a temporary fix, one can sew through the broken tooth to make the zipper shorter.

By understanding the material of a zipper’s teeth, we can make a better decision in choosing a zipper. For fashion based item, you can simply choose a zipper that will appeal aesthetically with the garment. However, for more functionality-based equipment, such as tents and raincoats among others, you will need to consider the durability and flexibility needed by the equipment and choose the zipper type accordingly.






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