Twist ties and zip ties are two of the simplest tools one will ever use. They're also among the most versatile. They're so ubiquitous that they're practically invisible—you see them everywhere, so often that you almost don't realize they're there. The "traditional" uses of twist ties and zip ties are fairly well known: twist ties are often found holding bread bags shut, for example, while zip ties' alternate name, cable ties, points to their usefulness in keeping cables and wires organized.

But what of their versatility? Off the top of your head, you might be able to think of a dozen or more additional uses for twist ties and zip ties. Below are others you may not have thought of, including ideas for specialized twist and zip ties you may not have known existed.

Automotive & Transportation

Automotive OEMs often use cable ties to bundle wires and cables throughout vehicles. But zip ties are used for numerous other uses in the automotive market, as well. Aftermarket parts manufacturers may use zip ties to bundle complementary products for shipping or display. Certain types of cable ties can have usage or installation instructions printed directly on them, making the parts easier to use.

In a pinch, cable ties can be used to create makeshift snow tires for bicycles. The ties can be wrapped around bike tires and fastened in such a way that the "heads" of the ties act as studs for improved traction. This solution may not be reliable enough to make it through an entire winter, but if a cyclist finds him- or herself caught in an unexpected storm, this quick fix can help them get home safely.

Food Production & Sales

Though most zip ties are made entirely of plastic, special zip ties with small amounts of metal content are popular in food production processes. Used to bundle products, attach labels, etc., the metal in these zip ties makes them easy to spot via metal detector or x-ray. This helps prevent zip ties, or pieces of zip ties, from finding their way into the finished product. A blueberry muffin with a section of a zip tie in it is no one's idea of a delicacy, and having a reliable way to avoid this type of mishap can save food producers from potential litigation and lost sales.

Cheesemakers, tortilla makers, and the like often use spooled twist ties to package their goods. Production can be sped up with the use of an application machine by simply inserting the neck of the back and letting the machine apply the twist tie from the spool and cutting it. Another advantage of spooled twist ties is that they can be cut to any length the user requires.

Lobstermen often use custom printed zip ties to label and identify their lobster traps. This helps keeps track of whose catch is whose, and helps fishing companies comply with industry regulations.

A farmers market is a good place to see both twist ties and zip ties in action. Twist ties (both standard and spooled varieties) can be used to package produce, whether one is bundling a handful of fresh parsley or securing a sack of potatoes. Cable ties are the perfect way to hold in place signs, price tags, etc. With heavy duty zip ties, even weighty chalkboards can be held securely, allowing sellers to change their signage or messages as needed.

Other applications for twist ties and cable ties

Many pharmaceutical companies use beaded cable ties—which are generally made of polyethylene instead of nylon like most cable ties—for bundling and container sealing purposes. Pharmaceutical products often require silica packets or other drying agents in their packaging, and polyethylene doesn't dry out and break in these situations like nylon can.

Flagged twist ties are popular for grocery stores, pet stores, candy stores, and other retail locations where customers can bag their own bulk products. Flag ties are perfect for keeping those bags closed, and their flags allow users to write SKU numbers, total weight, or other information for reference at the checkout counter.

Seed companies often use zip ties to close and "lock" seed bins during transport or storage. Similarly, banks frequently use zip ties as a quick and easy closure for bank bags. In both cases, custom printing can make it easy to keep track of what's inside and from whence it came, and helps deter tampering.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of uses for twist ties and cable ties. But, if you're looking for inspiration or examples of these tools' versatility, it's certainly a good start.