Analyzing the pros and cons of computerized cutting

January 1, 1970

Compiled by Juli Case We’re going to be doing some foam cutting. We’re cutting out 200 pieces at a time and would like to use computerized equipment. The foam we’re using is quarter-inch thick “fun foam,” like you’d find at craft stores. Where can we get the equipment to cut it? We contacted a number …

Awnings used as signs to comply with city codes

By Janice Kleinschmidt When Blockbuster planned to open up shop in Santa Barbara, Calif., the tony coastal city objected to the video rental giant’s standard backlit awning. Steve Fredrickson, West Coast architectural market manager for France-based Ferrari Textiles, synopsizes the resulting exchange: “They said, ‘We’re Blockbuster,’ and Santa Barbara said, ‘Fine, we’re Santa Barbara. Get …

Web sites help companies enter Indian textile industry

By Seshadri Ramkumar Ministry of Textiles, government of India, www.texmin.nic.in Embassy of India, Washington D.C. www.indianembassy.org U.S.-India Business Council www.usibc.com Confederation of Indian Industry www.cii.in Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry www.ficci.com Confederation of Indian Textile Industry www.citiindia.com Synthetic Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council www.srtepc.org Seshadri Ramkumar is the supervisor of the Nonwovens …

Manufacturers produce camouflage webbing

By Jamie Swedberg Some innovations in narrow fabrics have little to do with the width of the webbing. For example, the development of electroluminescent tapes mirrors similar capabilities in the larger technical textile world. Companies such as Safe Lites of Edina, Minn., and BondCote Corp. of Pulaski, Va., can make high-quality wide EL panels, so …

Manufacturer adopts green processes and stewardship

By Barbara Ernster Vinyl manufacturer Vintex Inc., Mount Forest, Ontario, Canada, has gone to great lengths to adopt green processes and green stewardship in its plant and recycle its vinyl products, while remaining competitive against cheaper offshore products. Several years ago Vintex developed a recycling operation that could shred vinyl-coated polyester edge trim scrap and …

Calderon collaborates to expand business

By Sigrid Tornquist Paula Calderon is always looking for new ways to expand Caribbean Awning’s scope of business. St. Lucia, where the company is located, is a popular tourist destination due to its tropical climate and warm ocean breezes—a fact that results in large projects requiring awning fabrication, among other things. Calderon recognizes that while …

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Customers’ desks present advertising opportunities

By Roy Katz How would you like to own a small—but prime—piece of real estate on your best customers’ desks? You can with the creative use of advertising specialties, premiums, and giveaways. “Advertising specialties have lasting impact and help reinforce a connection with your audience,” says Timothy M. Andrews, president and CEO of the Advertising …

Soup up your blog

By Joe Dysart While you’re adding the latest in interactivity to your site, don’t forget to update your company blog with new tools that will give it an edgier look. Artisteer 2.1 This is a gem of a blog design tool that will enable a nontechnical person to custom design a WordPress blog in an …

What green means for specialty fabrics customers

By Jamie Swedberg Environmentally friendly products aren’t flying off the shelves as quickly as they used to, what with customers’ newfound price sensitivity. But certain types of buyers will always want the greenest option. “This is just my opinion, but I don’t think sustainability resonates with most contractors,” says Bob Helmsing, MFC, vice president of …

Tips for keeping a lean inventory

Your suppliers offer discounts for bulk orders of fasteners, fabric, ink and other materials you need to make your product. “It looks good on the financial records,” says lean consultant Chris Ortiz, “but it costs a lot of money to carry those items. You are tying up six months of money in that inventory. One …

Designing upholstery work for its transportation niche

By Abbie Yarger Some upholsterers involved in custom niche transportation projects find themselves immersed in the design elements of the work. When Dan Salinas, owner of Hot Rod Heaven in Nampa, Idaho, accepts a job, he thoroughly inspects the vehicle, researching the frame, body and paint to create a custom piece that will mesh with …

Biggest boat wrap in the world

By Sigrid Tornquist Cummins MerCruiser Diesel and large format printer Image Monster collaborated to create the world’s biggest boat wrap, a compelling vision of blue marlin and mahi-mahi. The boat wrap, which was featured on the 60-foot QuadZeus at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, challenged Image Monster; the company had experience with car, van, …

Foam industry embraces certification program

By Barb Ernster Foam producers in the United States are reacting favorably to a voluntary testing, analysis and certification program called CertiPUR-US® that certifies their foam meets certain standards for content, emissions and durability. Administered by the Alliance for Flexible Polyurethane Foam (AFPF), CertiPUR-US testing is performed in independent laboratories on polyurethane foams used in …

Sustainability Standards

By Michael Labella The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ISO has developed standards, the ISO 14000, that can be used as a guideline to design and implement an environmental management system (EMS), which organizes an environmental program in a comprehensive, systematic, planned and documented manner. ISO 14001 deals with the actual requirements for an environmental …

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IFAI Expo Americas 2010: Grow your business with product innovation

Compiled by Galynn Nordstrom, Janet Preus, Chris Tschida and Susan Niemi Dennis Paris of Tangerine Strategies LLC, business and marketing consultants, defines new product development as the creation of a product that will generate value for your customers vs. the competition. Revolutionary products change market behavior; evolutionary products add benefits or quality to the market. …

Coating companies value every customer

By Janice Kleinschmidt So maybe you’re not Nike (one of P2i’s customers) or a military agency (a major protective-fabric customer). You’re still important in the eyes of coating companies—and you can still benefit from their technologies. “The main advantage for a small business would be to gain access to all of Duro’s technical knowledge derived …

Contract know-how

By Holly O’Dell A thorough contract can prevent headaches down the road. Contracts should address factors such as pricing, invoice and delivery, according to Jan Schieffer, managing director of the Fabric Graphics Association. She notes that some smaller companies do all their work on a verbal contract, which could lead to problems. “I always tell …

Awning design inspired by a dragon

By Sigrid Tornquist Awnings are like first impressions; they set the expectation for a patron’s experience, whatever the venue. Ohio Awning took on the difficult project of creating an awning for a Thai restaurant looking to make a dramatic statement with an awning that resembled a dragon. Ohio Awning’s design suggested the shape of the …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Kevin Yonce, MFC, IFM, CPP, IFAI chair and CEO of TCT&A Industries

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist What are the three goals you are planning to address as you begin your term as IFAI chairman of the board? “The first and most immediate action item is to find a new president for IFAI. Steve Warner recently resigned after almost 35 years. What he accomplished at IFAI made it …

Defining the perfect customer

By Janice Kleinschmidt When considering the market for photovoltaic products, the experts have thoughts on the mindset of the ideal client. Samuel Cochran, SMIT The perfect customer is someone who understands the full impact and opportunities that their project can have. Obviously, with the state of our economy, money becomes a very large issue. When …

Safety net: Lightweight RPG solution based on nets

By Sigrid Tornquist Cheryl Gomes worked on QinietQ North America’s ground-breaking defense project, Q-Net™, which was rolled out in 2010. In conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the team developed the lightweight rocket-propelled grenade solution (RPG) based on nets rather than traditional armor. Based on …

Home health fabric products made in the USA

By Dara Syrkin “Everyone is seeing upward pressure on raw materials,” Ross Brown, Brown Sales Corp. says. “The increased price of foam, for instance, is on our radar. About half of our customers use foam. Some may decide they don’t need a foam piece in their products. In such a highly competitive marketplace we have …

Finding loans and grants

By Mark E. Battersby Although the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) does not provide grants to start or grow a business, certain grants are available for very specific business goals. Use the SBA’s “Loans and Grants Search Tool” to check your options. For example: I want assistance with exporting my products/services overseas. I’m a government …

Project example: Dow Jones headquarters

Dow Jones headquarters, New York, N.Y. By Holly O’Dell Design firm: Design360 Inc. Fabricator: Xibitz Description: Dow Jones sought a way to incorporate its archive of newspaper cover images as a backdrop to the illuminated displays opposite the faceted walls. Rather than traditional vinyl material, the architect and Design360 selected a material that “felt like …

Fabric roof stands up to the snow

By Barb Ernster The air-supported membrane for the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome sports stadium in Minneapolis held up impressively through Minnesota’s harsh winters, but in 2010—after 28 years—a record-breaking heavy, wet snow caused the membrane to tear and deflate. It was replaced in 2011 with the same St. Gobain SHEERFILL® PTFE-coated fiberglass, which still meets the …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Cindy Boersema, owner of The Nautical Needle

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist   What is one way you create and maintain employee satisfaction? It’s very important to me that our employees feel secure, and a huge part of that is providing health insurance for them. We have an alternative supplement plan in place right now, but are looking into a plan that’s a …

Polyethylene is the industry standard for ag industry fabric structures

Although large commercial operations may opt for PVC fabric structures for their look and endurance, the predominant material used by the agriculture industry is polyethylene, which is considerably less expensive and offers greater light transmission. “It’s an industry standard. It’s been around for well over 20 years,” says Joe Teixeira, truss arch specialist for ClearSpan …

How Lakeside Marine Canvas went mobile

Company outlines steps to take when building a mobile shop. By Jill C. Lafferty Lakeside Marine Canvas of Buford, Ga., has been creating custom canvas marine products—from small boat covers and biminis to an engineered Party Top designed to withstand winds up to 100 mph and snow loads of 20 pounds per square foot—for 20 …

Snapshot: A walk to the party

By Sigrid Tornquist After an 11-year hiatus, the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum located on the Congress Street Bridge in Boston, Mass., opened in June 2013—with the help of the Dorchester Awning Co. The company manufactured and installed four 100-foot-long ramps that lead from the bridge to the floating museum, each one designed to …

Drivers, turning points

According to a Grand View Research report released in January, protection and military applications accounted for the largest market share (27.5 percent) for smart textiles in 2012. The rest of the pie was split between architecture (20.6 percent), sports/fitness (17.3 percent), transportation (14.8 percent), fashion and entertainment (12.4 percent), and medical (7.3 percent). But University …

Predictions about awning and canopy trends

By Jeff Rasmussen A survey conducted in November 2008 by IFAI asked U.S. and Canadian awning and canopy fabric end product manufacturers and suppliers to identify current issues or trends, the impact of those trends, and their expectations for 2009. What do you expect to happen in 2009? Suppliers responded: Continued economic problems in 2009; …

Medical textiles must comply with medical industry regulations

By Holly O’Dell Compliance, like performance characteristics, is a vital consideration of medical textiles. First, a medical textile manufacturer needs to determine if a particular product is regulated by the FDA, which then has to approve the way in which a product is labeled. “That means we have to prove that a product does what …

Hendee Enterprises faces transition challenges

By Sigrid Tornquist In the mid-1990s Hendee Enterprises was growing so fast that the company needed to add a level of middle management. “That was a big challenge,” says Chuck Hendee, the company’s president. “It added a level of complexity to the business.” Prior to that addition all the major decisions were the responsibility of …

Companies use various strategies to succeed abroad

By Janice Kleinschmidt Establishing yourself in a foreign market takes more than learning a few key phrases in another language. “Each country has different ways of doing business and, in some cases, there are subtleties that you need to know to make that business grow and have that business be effective, so it’s not just …

Cradle-to-cradle principles provide green production possibilities

From the book Sustainable, by Aaris Sherin. Using cradle-to-cradle principles, people and industry could produce: Buildings that produce more energy than they consume and purify their own waste water; Factories that produce effluents that are drinkable; Products that do not become useless waste when their lifecycle has ended, but can be tossed onto the ground …

Cleaning green

By Holly O’Dell Outdoor fabrics have transformed into sophisticated products that can better resist soil, oil and chemicals. “Over the years, fabric technology has improved, whether that be in the construction of the fabric or perhaps some type of surface treatment oriented toward enhancing the life of the fabric and cleanability,” says Drew Nelson, product …

Questions to ask before you invest in grand format printing

Eight questions to ask when considering the investment in grand format printing. By Maura Keller What market segment do we reach with ourcurrent equipment and product offering? What is the ROI on the investmentof wide or grand format printers andother required equipment? By incorporating this printer/output intothe workplace, what markets or avenueswill it open? What …

Adapting core competencies to new markets

By Carol Brzozowski Five factors to keep in mind when examining your company’s technological and skill capabilities for pursuing new markets: Listen to your customers for new or unusual requests; identify patterns or trends. Has the competition recently expanded into a new line? If so, consider what they know about the market that you need …

Fabric applications must meet codes

By Janice Kleinschmidt At one time, fabric—when it came to structures, anyway—amounted to little more than window dressing. With the advent of stronger, more durable textiles and advanced chemistry and manufacturing processes, fabric became a building material—one whose fluidity appeals to design aesthetics in ways that wood, steel and concrete can’t. But the integrity of …

Training employees on lean processes

“You can’t go [into lean manufacturing mode] expecting to drop 25 percent of your workforce,” says Kevin Kelly of Globe Canvas Products. “Ideally, you would like to keep them all and retrain them, because the efficiency will be high enough that you will be more productive.” Training employees in new processes, he notes, is harder …

Meeting FAA requirements with aircraft upholstery

By Abbie Yarger Working with aircraft interiors takes more than simply agreeing to do a job. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implemented numerous regulations and procedures for upholsterers providing aircraft services. “Those people who want to get into the aircraft market have to do their homework,” says Rob Lucarelli, interior specialist at the National Flight …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Scott Campbell, owner and president of Rainier Industries

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist What is your industry prediction? There’s just so much instability right now, and over-regulation, that it’s hard to predict—just batten down the hatches and wait for things to improve. What is your business philosophy? Have fun, make money, take care of the customers and be good to the employees. What is …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Michael Ciferri Jr., vice president of Donovan Enterprises

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist What is your industry prediction? The truck tarp market is dependent upon construction. The past couple of years have been rough, but we’re starting to see a rebound and are optimistic that the recent increase in business is an indication of long-term, steady growth. What is your business philosophy? Everybody’s your …

Boom disposal spurs need for geosynthetics

By Andrew Aho An estimated 3.02 million feet of containment boom and 8.29 million feet of sorbent boom were deployed this summer in response to the Gulf oil spill—most of it made of vinyl. What will happen to all the boom? Much of it was touched by the hydrocarbon slicks, and some of it will …

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IFAI Expo Americas 2010: Social media opportunities

Compiled by Galynn Nordstrom, Janet Preus, Chris Tschida and Susan Niemi In the 1960s, television was the marketing medium, well suited to the promotion of big consumer brands to a public with greater buying power than ever before. But times have changed. As consumers deal with less discretionary income, they want a closer look than …

Automotive fabrics used out of sight

By Holly O’Dell Fabrics are hard at work in vehicle interiors, including many essential textiles and composite materials that are used out of sight. Behind & between Acoustic and thermal insulation uses needle-punched nonwoven composites made with natural fibers (kenaf, jute, waste cotton, flax) in blends, often with PP and PET, for floor covering, door …

Finding a qualified printer

By Holly O’Dell James Garbarsky was on the lookout for a new print provider. The owner of Azure Awnings in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., had used several print shops for his products, but he was not happy with their knowledge of printing on fabric. He did his own research along the way, learning which graphics worked …

Cow mattress system

By Barb Ernster Kemps’ ice cream adage, “It’s the Cows,” sums it up for today’s farmer: the more comfortable the cow—or chicken or pig—the better the production. That’s the premise behind a cow mattress system made by North Brook Farms Inc., Auburn, N.Y. The system involves a 1-1/2 to 3-inch, closed-cell foam mattress pad covered …

Fabric graphics companies offer additional services

By Janice Kleinschmidt The economy may be stale, but companies can’t afford to follow suit. KSK Visual Ingenuity introduced EcoThreads in 2009. “There are a number of projects that require eco-friendly materials for LEED certification,” says Steven Gazdag. As for new services, KSK has begun offering “creative consultation”—everything from basic design to providing material specifications. …

Getting scientific: photovoltaic films

By Janice Kleinschmidt The first generation of photovoltaics, and most efficient in terms of generating the most power in the least amount of space, is crystalline (glass-covered silicon). More flexible, lightweight forms of photovoltaics are found in thin films. The first thin films were amorphous silicon. “It’s like a paste sealed between layers of plastic,” …