What is the Difference Between Zippers?

difference-between-zippers

In the zipper world, there are quite a few choices. With a good deal of options, there are some that are paralyzed by the number of choices when ordering zippers. One of our customer service representatives worked with a client for 2 hours trying to help her make a decision. This post will give you some insight between the teeth and what each tooth style is generally used for.

What is the Difference Between Zippers?
For the most part, a zipper will always be used as a device to close or fasten a bag or apparel piece. The biggest difference between zippers are the teeth and the application.

At our zipper factory, we categorize the teeth in the following buckets: Nylon Coil, Plastic Molded, and Metal zippers. Once these zippers are in their respective buckets, it’s just the gauge size that sets them apart.

1a. Nylon Coil – The Nylon Coil Zipper is made exactly how it’s named. There’s a nylon monofilament that is “coiled” to form the teeth. It’s then sewn on to the zipper tape to make the final zipper product. Nylon Coil zippers are the zippers of choice for the outdoor and luggage industry. Tents, backpacks, suit cases, and camping apparel, you’ll most likely find nylon coil zippers. With the construction of the nylon coil zipper, it lends itself to have a stronger horizontal strength. We’ve all stuffed our luggage a bit too much and that zipper holding the suit case from exploding is a nylon coil zipper. Nylon coil zippers are also pretty easy to repair, should a tooth get out of alignment. The nylon monofilament can easily correct itself by zipping and unzipping past the point where the tooth is misaligned and most times it will fix itself. Another thing to note is that with nylon coil zippers, the sliders can be put on the zipper chain either direction and the zipper will still function.
Nylon-Coil-Zippers

1b. Invisible Zippers – There are two types of invisible zippers. A true Invisible Zipper, that is most often used in women’s skirts and a reverse coil or an Invisible Identical Zipper, as we call it. The Invisible Zipper is sewn into the seam of a skirt to create a clean finish . If you look at an Invisible Zipper closely, you’ll see that there are pleats on the zipper tape that allows the sewer to sew all the way to the seam line. The Invisible Identical Zipper (IIZ) on the other hand is a regular Nylon Coil zipper that is oriented backwards to give an invisible look. With this type of zipper, you cannot sew all the way to the seam because there needs to be room for the slider to move. Invisible Identical Zippers are most commonly used when your design is calling for a clean finish and you need a bit of a larger gauge than an Invisible Zipper. I’ve seen them applied on pieces from luggage to center front zippers on apparel.

Invisible Zipper
invisible-zippersinvisible-zippers

Invisible Identical Zipper
invisible-identical-zippers

2. Plastic MoldedPlastic Molded zippers are made from an acetal polymer that is extruded through a mold to shape the teeth. The teeth are perfectly symmetrical which means that the slider for plastic molded zippers can run in either direction. Plastic molded zippers are pretty versatile. They are mostly used on apparel and some handbags. It just depends on the look of the final design. Some like the “chunky’ look of the zipper teeth and take that into consideration of the design. The horizontal strength is decent, however if one of the zipper teeth break over time, it’s almost impossible to repair one tooth.
plastic-molded-zippers

3. Metal – Metal Zippers come in a few different finishes and gauge sizes as well. The finishes that are most common are brass, antique brass, nickel, antique nickel, and gun metal. There are times that copper and antique copper are used, but it’s definitely not as popular as the other finishes. Different industries within apparel making will choose one finish over another for the purposes of how they want the final garment to look. One example is denim makers. Most denim makers know the abuse the jeans will be going through and opt for a denim zipper. Typically denim zippers are brass to withstand the brutal washes. Metal zippers are used on items from handbags to coveralls. Within the Metal zipper category, there are also Luxury Zippers. Luxury zippers most often have a high polish and high shine to them. They have gone through much more processing to get the smooth finish that elevates the finish of your design.

Metal Zipper
metal-zippers

Luxury Zipper
luxury-zipper

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  • agent_kagoro

    are there any alloy zippers? like mixed material zippers, if yes then what are they called and how do they look…plus what would you recommend for most durable zippers for luggage bags. a user that travels alot.

    thanks for the post it was really helpful on my research. 🙂

    • ucanzippersusa

      agent_kagoro, most of the metal zippers that we produce are a brass base. Our brass has a mixture of metals, but that’s to ensure that the zipper teeth have a certain hardness and quality to function for years to come. For luggage bags, nylon coil zippers will be the most durable. They are flexible and are easy to repair. You’ll want to go with a larger gauge size. I would recommend #8 or larger. Also, you’ll want to make sure that you have a sturdy slider. Most often, we see the slider fail before we see the zipper go bad. Hope that helps!

      • agent_kagoro

        thanks ,that helps to narrow it down for my research. very helpful

  • Rhyan Walters

    are there similarites

  • This was an extremely helpful article. Thank you! I have been trying to figure out what zippers have the best durability and construction and this helped me out a lot. I would love to see a video of how the monofilament zippers are assembled. Do you happen to know of any websites or videos that show this process?

    Thanks again!

    Neil