How to Cut Ripstop Nylon

Written by kurt schanaman
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Ripstop nylon fabric is a commercial product that is literally tough as nails, yet flexible at the same time. Unfortunately, due to the strength of the material, it cannot be cleanly cut using scissors, or even a sharp razor knife. The material will only bend and flex. As the name of the material implies, the material is manufactured to prevent rips when under a high-stress environment, and it is used for the coverings of kites, bullet-proof-vests and many other high-stress applications. Fortunately, the material isn't impervious to high-temperature heat, and may be easily melted apart, rather than cut.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Pencil-style soldering iron, 35-watt minimum temperature capability
  • Soldering-iron stand
  • Spare pointed soldering iron tip

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  1. 1

    Plug in the soldering iron and turn it on, adjusting the heat selector to 1.67 degrees C if the iron has a dual-setting heat switch. Place the soldering iron into a soldering-iron stand and allow 5 to 10 minutes for the iron to reach maximum temperature.

  2. 2

    Place a piece of hard material, such as plywood, onto your working area to protect the surface from melted Ripstop and soldering-iron heat. Lay the fabric onto this protector.

  3. 3

    Remove the soldering iron from the stand, and touch the tip of the iron to the outer-edge of the fabric you desire to divide. It is generally best to start at the edge farthest away from you, which will allow you to slowly pull the iron toward you.

  4. 4

    Press the tip of the soldering iron gently down onto the fabric and slowly pull the iron toward you as the iron tip melts and separates the fabric into two pieces.

Tips and warnings

  • Ripstop nylon can melt onto the tip of the soldering iron. Therefore, it is recommended you use that tip for further dividing of Ripstop fabric only. Use separate tips for electronics soldering and fabric dividing.
  • You may opt to use a commercial "Heat Knife" available in some arts, crafts and sewing departments; however, these can be extremely expensive in comparison to a low-cost soldering iron and tip.
  • Open windows in the vicinity of your work area to minimise inhalation of fumes and to avoid irritation to eyes and mucous membranes,.

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