Uses of Abaca

by Sam Jones; Updated September 26, 2017

Abaca, a plant closely related to the banana, has unique fibrous leaf stalks originally used in making rope. The fiber is exceptionally strong, buoyant and resistant to saltwater, yet lightweight. Grown in tropical areas such as Sumatra and its native country, the Philippines, it's the second-most fibrous leaf stalk material used, after hemp. Used primarily in the Philippines, its application as a cheap source of strong lightweight fiber continues to expand.

Ropes

This strong fiber is used to make cordage, rope and twine.

Fabrics

Its light weight, flexibility, durability and long fiber length allow it to be turned into clothing and other fabrics such as linens and wall coverings.

Car innovations

In 2004, automaker Daimler-Chrysler approved the use of Philippine abaca for the exterior lining used in the car chassis of its Plymouth and Mercedes-Benz models, replacing fiberglass (since abaca is lighter yet has the same strength.) Daimler-Chrysler is also looking into the feasibility of using this fiber on interiors.

Furniture

Abaca furniture, especially patio furniture, is available through many worldwide outlets.

Marine applications

Due to its strength, durability, flexibility, buoyancy and resistance to saltwater damage, Abaca is widely used by shipping and fishing industries for cable, rope, fishing lines and hawsers.

Paper

Because of its high cellulose content and staple length, this fiber is used in the production of electrolytic condenser paper, paper for decorating, Bible paper, tea bags, coffee filters, meat casings, art paper, cable insulation paper, adhesive tape, lens tissue, mimeograph stencil base tissue, carbonizing tissue, Japanese currency paper, checks, cigarette paper, vacuum cleaner bags, abrasive base paper, weatherproof Bristol, maps, charts, diploma paper, handmade paper, high-quality writing paper, and medical disposal and food preparation disposal papers.

Apparel

Since it needs no spinning and has strong, lightweight inner fibers, abaca is used for garments, hats and even shoes.

Carpets

Abaca is also used in the manufacturing of rugs, carpets and mats.

Fiber handicrafts

The Philippines has a thriving industry producing handicrafts made of abaca and selling them worldwide.

Cable

Because of its strength, abaca is used to make hoisting, drilling and transmission cable.