Zippers are one of the most elemental but revolutionary inventions. They drastically changed both the fabric and fashion industries. The patent for the first prototype of the zipper was owned by the inventor of the sewing machine, Elias Howe, in 1851.
The standard modern zipper is weather resistant, durable, and available in a variety of colors, materials, and sizes. Zippers are used on many different items including clothing, vehicle covers, bookbags, handbags, and more.
A zipper track has a row of teeth on each side. These teeth all have a hook and hollow. The slide moves up and down the zipper track. The slide pushes the teeth together to close the zipper track. A high-quality zipper provides a very strong bond that is difficult to break without moving the slide in the opposite direction to separate the teeth. Zippers require all of the teeth to be exactly the same size for the mechanism to work correctly.
Zippers can be used just about anywhere. These fasteners make their way into boat covers, patio enclosures, cushions, recreational gear, and apparel. With so many variants, it can be difficult to decide which type is the best choice for a specific job.
To shed some light on this, we’ve broken down and explained some of the most common zipper components and types below.
Handbags and similar products often have zipper pulls (or pull cords). These pulls allow you to easily use the zipper by extending the length of the slider. This makes it much easier to use a purse, backpack, or any other zipper with a slider that's too small or difficult to reach. We offer quality-made, easy-to-use zipper pull cords for your next project.
YKK is the world’s largest supplier of quality zippers as well as other fastening products. Because their products are so ubiquitous, it’s useful to know how to read their product names, which includes YKK zipper sizes and features.
YKK zippers and sliders are named based on a certain set of criteria. Item #280085, for example, is listed as YKK® VISLON® #8 Separating Zipper Automatic Lock Short Single Pull Metal Slider #VFUVOL-86 DA E 5/8” 60" Black. Here’s what that means:
The size of the zippers you need will depend on the size of your project. Make sure to measure the area you want to enclose before ordering zippers. The teeth, slider, and other parts of the zipper can also come in a variety of sizes. Full zipper tape rolls are typically sized by chain or coil width, tape width, and length. For a sizing example, refer to item #280085 above.
The materials used in zippers need to strike a balance between durability and ease of use. Zipper tape is typically made from polyester or acrylic. The teeth and sliders can be made from either plastic, resin, or metal and sometimes include UV-resistant, chip-resistant enamel paint. These materials are used for their light weight, strength, smooth surfaces, and weather capability.
The zippers and parts outlined above can all be used in custom projects or for zipper replacements and repair.
For industrial purposes, plastic zipper chains and sliders with polyester tape are generally the most stable. Plastic is lightweight, corrosion resistant, and weather stable while polyester offers high strength and low stretch. However, choosing the right zipper will depend on your specific application.
The following is a basic guide and is not intended to be a comprehensive list:
Almost everyone has experienced the unfortunate event of a zipper breaking while zipping or unzipping it. There are a few common reasons why a zipper may break.
Zipper is stuck: If your zipper is stuck, there is a good chance that there is something blocking the slider from moving. Fabric or loose threads are common reasons why a zipper gets stuck. You can use a zipper lubricant (like IOSSO® E-Z Snap, Zipzap, or YKK® ZIPPY COOL®) to lubricate the slider and free your zipper.
Zipper will not close or keeps popping up: The zipper may have a thread or cloth stuck in it, crooked teeth, or the slider may be broken. If fixing the teeth or freeing the zipper does not work, you may need to replace the zipper.
Slider pulls off: If the slider is coming off, you should replace it with a new one. Make sure to choose a slider that is the correct size for your zipper and its teeth.
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