Plastic Hardware : Good or Bad?

Have you ever wondered if that plastic buckle is any good?  Or chosen not to buy something because it had plastic buckles?

Well, you are not alone.  I do it too.  

Plastic hardware, like everything, comes in different qualities.  From the really shoddy to the "oh so good it is better than metal hardware".

Ya, you heard me.  Better than metal hardware.

You know how YKK zippers (the number one brand zipper) out performs all other zippers?  Well Duraflex (National Molding) and ITW Nexus are the number one plastics brands.  

So how do you really know what kind of buckle is on that thing you want to buy?

Start by looking at the product tags.  Do you see them advertising that it's made with Duraflex or ITW Nexus buckles? 

When you look at the buckle do you see Duraflex or ITW Nexus stamped anywhere on the buckle? Most often it is stamped on the back on the buckle or located under the webbing that is holding the buckle onto the item.   

If you don't see it mentioned, or see it stamped in the plastic, it doesn't always mean it's junky plastic.  It just means it's not the BEST plastic hardware available.  

Sadly, name brand buckles cost WAY more money.  Like 3 to 4 times more than the leading knock off.  Often, in an effort to reduce costs, lesser quality plastic is chosen by manufacturers.  

That's why top of the line manufacturers will pick and choose when name brand plastic should be used. 

Here at My Fave Straps, we use name brand buckles for any strap where quality matters.  Like with our camera straps...cuz you don't want that buckle to fail. UH UH.  NO WAY.  Not EVER.  That's also why we use a beefier buckle too.  I've seen too many 3/8" buckles failing, even if they are name brand.  They are just not meant to handle the load when 15 to 20 lbs snaps on it.  I realize most camera set ups are in the 5 lb range...but it nice to know they are rated for overkill.  Just saying.  You can watch a great video on our straps in action taking a 2.5 ft drop with a 15 lb weight below, I have also done this video with a 20 lb weight too (still available on instagram).  No issues whatsoever on the buckles.  The 15 lb drop will go all day long.  The 20 lb drop broke after 15 drops, but it's an intense drop and the load factors are through the roof. Frankly if your camera (and your neck) ever endured that kind of drop, with that kind of force, you would replace your strap.  

So, for the really important straps (cameras, guitars, ukeleles, mandolins and hot coffee) name brand buckles are used, either from ITW Nexus or Duraflex.  

For all our other buckles we use a high quality unbranded plastic that still has stellar performance, just not as bomb proof as a quality controlled branded buckle. But perfectly adequate for things like jacket clips. 

Want to know more about plastic hardware?  Check out this post on the differences between nylon and acetal plastic hardware HERE and they are perfect for different applications.

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