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Choosing the right foam for your seating project

August 1, 2017

From cockpit cushions with hull angles to bosun’s chairs and boat mattresses, choosing the best solution for cushion foam is a bit of a science. The task can feel daunting given the complexity of choices in foam types, materials, densities and compression factors, but choosing correctly is crucial to a project’s success. Factor in comfort …

Nonwoven advances in performance and sustainability

The global market for nonwovens is expected to grow from a 2015 level of $2.9 billion to $8 billion by 2022, according to Stratistics Market Research Consulting, specialists in global cross-sector market research. Existing market sectors such as health, hygiene and automotive applications are expanding, and others are being added, with much of the growth …

Thermal control technology in textiles expands to a wide variety of industries

June 29, 2017

Recent advances in thermal control for apparel have grabbed the headlines in this type of textile technology, but there are highly sophisticated materials and technologies that are less obvious, but at least as impressive, especially in building interiors and exteriors and other energy-saving applications in everyday life. Depending on the desired outcome, an approach to …

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A sculptural fabric roof for a high-end mall in Mexico

June 1, 2017

A sculptural fabric roof complements the expansion of a high-end mall. Cuernavaca is the capital of Mexico’s Morelos state, located in the lush Tepozteco Mountains just south of and bordering Mexico City. With a warm, stable climate that ranges year-round from 20–30 degrees C (68–86 degrees F), it has legitimate claim to “City of the …

Patent law for innovators

Protecting the technologies and products that drive growth in the textile industry. Is innovation a key component of your business plan?  Will you distinguish yourself with unique product offerings? Whether protecting our men and women in uniform, advancing the treatment of medical conditions, or adding to a more sustainable tomorrow, innovation fuels the growth of textile …

Better together

May 1, 2017

Collaborative efforts support growth in the smart textiles industry. The more high tech an industry is, the greater the range of expertise it may need. Advanced textiles, particularly smart materials, are a prime example of this. Textiles often undergo a variety of processes requiring specialized skills and equipment, so collaboration is essential to the industry. …

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Living off the land

Ohana Yurts encourages sustainable living, one yurt at a time. To Jenny and Nathan Toler, a yurt is more than a temporary shelter or even a permanent home; it’s a way to reconnect with the earth. “It’s living in the environment as opposed to being protected from it,” explains Nathan, who owns Haleiwa, Hawaii-based Ohana …

Piezoelectric energy harvesting

April 1, 2017

Packages that power biochemical and environmental sensors. Breathing is the most consistent source of kinetic energy in the human body, as it produces a large circumferential displacement in the chest, even during sleep. This oscillation is one of few mechanisms in the human body that can also be exploited noninvasively for energy harvesting. The National …

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High-performance sewing

Choosing the right sewing machine saves time and money. Every trade has its tools, and marine fabrication is no exception. A critically important tool of marine fabrication is the sewing machine. Regardless of the brand, a sewing machine has to be durable, reliable and easily maintained, because it is, after all, the workhorse of a …

Keeping up with carbon

March 1, 2017

Demand for carbon fiber stresses market ability to provide it,  but costs and efficiences are expected to improve. Although carbon fiber as a commodity has been around since the late 1960s, only in the past 10 years can there truly be considered a dynamic market of real substance with steady growth potential. Others in the …

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Covering the environment

February 20, 2017

Eco-concerns increase in truck and tarp industry These days, nearly every business is burdened with some kind of environmental challenge. These challenges include cutting landfill deposits, disposing toxic-laden wastes in a proper manner and educating employees on workplace recycling. Nearly every company has pressures from regulators and customers to change their products and processes to …

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Green glamping

February 17, 2017

Eco-friendly glamping structures designed to keep Mother Nature smiling. Glamping brings together the best of two worlds—all the splendor Mother Nature has to offer in posh, elegant accommodations. As if that weren’t enough, glamping structures are usually designed with fabrics that blend into the surroundings that leave less of a footprint to challenge the environment. …

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Inflation rates

February 1, 2017

Blow-up shapes and structures make a valuable medium for edgy and interactive art. When Los Angeles based artist Paul McCarthy installed two works in Munich’s Haus der Kunst, the widely known provocateur hired a company that specializes in inflatables for branding to create a flowerpot of geraniums to cover the museum’s roofline. The blow-up vinyl-coated …

Special (fabric) effects

Ubisoft and OCAD University students worked together to advance the technology of the motion capture suit. Ubisoft, a leading creator, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and services, is behind some of the world’s most recognizable game brands, including Assassin’s Creed, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon and Watch Dogs, and more recently has launched Ubisoft Motion …

Better chemistry, better products

Sustainability in textile development and manufacturing is an ongoing conversation, much of it revolving around processes that conserve energy, water and natural resources. Beyond manufacturing processes, however, sustainability issues are driving true technical innovation, resulting in new products that offer a host of advantages. Replacing PFCs The search for alternatives to perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) such …

Self-cleaning textiles embrace sustainability

January 10, 2017

Self-cleaning textiles and coatings are making inroads in a variety of industries including those related to medical, architectural and fashion endeavors. Using hydrophilic and photocatalytic properties, self-cleaning textile technology allows fabrics to be cleaned simply by water without using cleaning agents. The photocatalytic component of these textiles can help decompose organics on the textile using …

Knowing what you need

January 1, 2017

Examining antimicrobial and omni-repellency performance. Textile testing was front and center at IFAI’s Advanced Textiles Conference and on the IFAI Expo 2016 show floor in Charlotte, N.C. Testing to be assured that a product will perform as expected is an important step in the development of any application; in antimicrobial performance, it is becoming even …

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Flying the “Paper Airplane”

Canvas Specialty, Inc. works through challenges to create a shade structure that is also art. The simplicity of the paper airplane has made it a popular toy for generations of kids (and adults), even in this age of high-tech entertainment. But while the shade structure installed recently in Los Angeles’ Grand Park was designed to resemble …

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Stability at sea

Redesigned nylon para sea anchor provides unmatched strength and support for a new oil vessel. Fabric’s wide-ranging aquatic capabilities are often observed above water in the form of sails, for example, or inflatable and flexible boating structures. When put to work beneath the surface, dependence on its strength is just as—if not more—critical, succeeding only …

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Eyes in the sky

December 1, 2016

Drone photography is the latest tool for tent professionals to show off their stuff. I flew a drone for the first time at IFAI Tent Expo 2015 and was instantly obsessed. The experience of controlling a copter 400 feet away was amazing! The things I could see and the photos and video I could take …

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Carrying on traditions

William Miller is the owner, manager and fabricator of Colonville Canvas, a Clare, Mich.-based company that specializes in marine covers, enclosures, bimini tops and upholstery. Miller grew up learning about the industry in his father’s shop. He opened his own shop in 2014 and has carried on the family tradition of making quality products. Here, …

Biomimetics and biotextiles

Imitating nature offers sustainable choices in new textiles. Nature provides the inspiration for many innovations in business, including in the field of textiles. Some efforts, however, are quite specific in imitating nature. In fact, an entire field of science has blossomed under the name “biomimetics,” a term first coined in 1969 by Dr. Otto Schmitt, …

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Beyond branding

November 29, 2016

Inflatables manufacturers find diverse markets in addition to promotional products. To attract the attention of drivers, car dealerships float spheres or other shapes with automakers’ logos. People dressed in inflatable costumes that identify them as brand mascots line festival walkways to interact with attendees. Giant replicas of consumer goods—whether it’s a can of beer or …

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Fear of flying?

Companies that make air- and helium-filled products weigh the risks. When Pink Floyd’s trademark helium pig got too high at a Coachella concert in 2008 and drifted away, no one got hurt—even though the pink inflatable was, as the Associated Press reported, “as tall as a two-story house and as wide as two school buses.” …

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Crossing over, down under

November 1, 2016

A fabric-clad pedestrian bridge is poised to become a landmark entry point to Western Australia’s in-the-works sports stadium. Australian football fans ready to cheer on the 2018 Australian Football League season will travel from all across the country to attend the highly anticipated opening of the new Perth Stadium and Sports Precinct located on Western …

Military complexities

Smart materials mean lighter and more comfortable gear—and more flexible procurement policies. The nature of military warfare has undergone a seismic change over the past twenty years. Theaters of engagement are now more diverse and complex, demanding more of military personnel than ever before. The traditional procurement policy of buying in bulk to ensure standardization …

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Five climates, five approaches

Weather and water conditions dictate how regional shops make enclosures for exacting customers. Local geography can define a business. In the case of marine fabrication shops, locality factors into everything from work schedules to choice of materials. Whether the shops are based in the subtropical heat of Florida or the often-chilly climate of the Great …

The growing ground for durable nonwovens

October 11, 2016

David Nelson was devoted to nonwoven technology at 3M when the Minnesota-based corporate powerhouse became a charter member of The Nonwovens Institute, which launched in 2007 at North Carolina State University. Nelson served on the institute’s industrial advisory board for six years, three years as chairman. He also served for six years on the board …

New materials take portable structures to another level

October 1, 2016

For Harry Osborne, creative lead at “brand experience agency” SET Live, headquartered in London, the graphic applications and collection of temporary structures throughout the “Google on the Beach 2015” (GoB) event were an exercise in balance. “A balance between getting the most from Anthony Burril’s incredible artwork,” says Osborne, “but also satisfying the local council’s …

Advanced textiles in Russia

Government invests $300 million to expand applications in the defense, aerospace and geosynthetic industries. The Russian government plans to invest up to $300 million USD in 2016 and 2017 toward developing the technical textiles industry, according to recent statements by Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade. Manturov is responsible for the development of …

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Bob Koerner has devoted more than 40 years to geosynthetics industry

When Dr. Robert M. Koerner talks about geosynthetics, the cadence of his speech quickens and the passion behind his words suggests that geotextiles, geosynthetic clay liners, geomembranes and geogrids (to name a few) could quite possibly be the most exciting materials civil engineers have at their disposal. As a leader in the field of geosynthetics, …

Applications for durable nonwovens

September 19, 2016

Nonwovens may be best known for their role in disposable products; but, with advances in technology, these engineered fabrics are reaching further into markets where traditional textiles have been used. Ulrich Hornfeck, board member and chief commercial officer at Sandler AG, offers examples from the German-based company’s portfolio: Transportation: interior and exterior absorbers, carrier materials …

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Enhancing the “legitimacy” of portable structures

September 16, 2016

The concept of a portable structure seems contrary to normal expectations. A building, after all, should be grounded with a solid footing and not move! Nevertheless, Aaron Betsky, architecture critic, curator and the dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Scottsdale, Ariz., argued in a recent online opinion piece that temporary structures should …

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Faith in the details

September 6, 2016

When it comes to specifying hardware for shade structures, fabricators and clients can rely on the wisdom of “sweating the details.” “Ideally, the fabricator and architect should be working together from the schematic phase,” says Erik Jarvie, PE, sales engineer with Tension Structures, a division of Eide Industries Inc., Cerritos, Calif.  “The knowledge of a …

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A steel-framed fabric building shelters, protects and stores

September 1, 2016

With the global population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, agriculture must overcome myriad demands required to feed so many people. A mineral known as potash provides a critical piece in solving this puzzle. Created during the evaporation of ancient seabeds, potash is most widely used as potassium fertilizer. “Potassium is one of the …

Innovators find a variety of markets for color-changing materials

New research and applications are proving that color-changing smart textiles continue to offer viable technology and products in the smart fabrics marketplace. Most recently, researchers from the School of Information, University of California, Berkeley, have developed a new color-changing “smart thread,” Ebb, that turns fabric into a computerized display. According to information provided by the …

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Sheltering safety standards

August 1, 2016

Rain or shine, fabric roofing structure allows a crash test facility to continue research year-round. Earlier this year, the National Safety Council estimated motor vehicle deaths to be 8 percent higher in 2015 than they were in 2014—the largest year-over-year percentage increase in 50 years. While a multitude of factors contribute to vehicle crashes, safety …

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Getting the word out about fabric graphics

Fabric graphics have become a marketing and branding essential. As they go outside to play, the medium is definitely part of the message. Fabric graphics are a perfect vehicle for our branding-obsessed culture, providing the ability to transmit messages in fun, colorful, impactful and attention-getting ways. Fabrics and fabric graphics are at home everywhere indoors, …

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Adding lighting to outdoor attractions

July 21, 2016

To make outdoor fabric structures and displays stand out, integrated lighting systems are setting new standards. No matter what the fabric structure or whether it’s installed outdoors or inside, illumination adds the finishing touch, transforming the extraordinary into something even more unforgettable and making an ordinary tent or display much more memorable. Lighting invites people …

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Equipment purchasing: price and value

July 18, 2016

ROI is still an important factor in buying decisions, but qualities like reliability, durability and customer service are moving to the forefront. The return on investment (ROI) and how long it might take to achieve it is always a key consideration in most purchasing decisions, particularly during the Great Recession when pricing and ROI moved …

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Revealing the romance of sailcloth tents

July 13, 2016

Trendspotting online shows tent renters and manufacturers what brides are looking for. If you want to know what’s trending in fashionable apparel, look to Paris, France. If you want to know what’s trending in automotive design, look to Torino, Italy. If you want to know what’s trending in cuisine, look on either coast of the …

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Digital printing: New fabrics, inks and printers are expanding graphic applications, indoors and out

June 16, 2016

Advances in technology are making custom graphics easier, more affordable and much more impressive. Fabric printing has come a long way from the days when vinyl banners were the norm in signage and screen-printed T-shirts were the gold standard in custom apparel. “Advancements in digital printing technology have made it easy to print photorealistic images …

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Special effects for digitally printed interior décor

June 14, 2016

Combine textured fabrics, dazzling metallic effects, LED lighting and acoustics for interiors that impress. In and of themselves, digitally printed wall and window coverings, as well as upholstery-type products for interior décor, add pizzazz to residential and commercial settings. Additional effects can boost the impact significantly. The first product from DreamScape™, a division of Roysons …

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Canopy protects New Zealand kindergarten from UV rays

June 1, 2016

Mid-century kindergarten in New Zealand gains a contemporary facelift and enhanced enrollment—and a healthy dose of shade. Of all the roles that shade structures fulfill—from aesthetic appeal to space expansion— their most critical function is weather protection. Few places require as much protection against ultraviolet (UV) rays as New Zealand, which, according to the country’s …

Market realities

Smart fabrics technologies present unique opportunities—and challenges—to commercial product development. The growth of smart fabrics technologies and applications is no longer a curiosity; it’s the new reality of high-tech fabrics, and it’s gaining ground at an impressive pace. The size of the smart fabrics market, as presented at the Smart Fabrics Summit on April 11 …

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How does SEG framing work?

Most SEG framing is meant to be assembled at the site where it will be used, says Casey Ford, president and CEO with 40 Visuals in Spring Lake, Mich. “Current SEG framing is extruded aluminum and is designed to be able to assemble easily,” Ford says, “but if the SEG framing system is to provide …

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A sharper image

Versatility, flexibility and easy handling are making Silicone Edge Graphics increasingly popular in a variety of markets. Silicone Edge Graphics (SEG) systems have become extremely popular in the retail, exhibition and decor market segments for both frontlit and backlit applications. “Today I consider it the go-to and mainstay of showcasing brand and product marketing, due …

Let there be (flexible) light

May 1, 2016

As efficiencies continue to improve, more applications are found for flexible photovoltaics. For a long time, it was common knowledge that thin film and flexible photovoltaics (PV) were not practical because of their lower efficiencies compared with more traditional glass-encased PV. That is no longer the case. Efficiencies are now comparable (approaching or exceeding 20 …

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Futuristic fabrics

Today’s smart fabric products, with embedded or woven technological components, are resonating with consumers, and the market is responding. Woven, nonwoven and knitted textiles are the foundation of the fabrics that make up our daily existence, from the clothes we wear to the upholstered chairs we sit on. They’re also the building blocks of the …

Getting physical: The other smart textiles

Nonelectronic fabrics can cool, warm and clean themselves—and enhance the health and performance of the wearer. Much attention has been given to textiles that are integrated with electronic sensors and circuitry (e-textiles). But some smart textiles do not rely on electronics. According to Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, professor and founder of the Pratt Institute Intelligent Materials Applied …