Cutting composite materials

January 1, 1970

By Katherine Carlson They’re flexible, they’re tough as nails, and slicing through composite materials can be a real challenge. To cut complex pre-preg resins, dry fiberglass or carbon fiber to exact shapes before sending them to be cured, the Ogden-Weber Applied Technology College Composites Program, Ogden, Utah, went with Autometrix Precision Cutting Systems Inc. “We’re …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Roy Chism, president of The Chism Co. Inc.

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist What is your industry prediction? There will be a growing demand for fabric products as flexible, low-cost, environmentally responsible solutions addressing many structural and energy needs. What is your business philosophy? Ongoing improvement. Always be open to change in how we do things, where we look for business and where we …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Robert Rosania, IFM, CPP, and CEO of Ehmke Manufacturing Co. Inc.

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist What is your industry prediction? In maybe five, but certainly within the next 10 years, the restrictions of both the Berry Amendment and the Buy American Act are going to be compromised. Opportunities for global competition will open up. What is your business strength? That would probably be my ability to …

Suppliers strive to keep up with new print technology

By Janice Kleinschmidt What a lovely world it would be if honing in on the latest and greatest textile printing process were as easy as finding the latest and greatest toothpaste or flat-screen television. But in the former case, you must consider not one but three sources: printer, ink, and fabric makers. And—as much as …

Fabrics used for water storage and disposal

By Jamie Swedberg There is arguably no component of agriculture as valuable as water. It is a crucial input into soil-based horticultural systems. It is the stuff of life for both plants and animals. In some specialties, such as hydroponics and aquaculture, it is actually the growth medium. Water is also a component of many …

Incentives help maintain relationships with customers

By Abbie Yarger To encourage relationships with customers, and to spur business, some fabricators offer distinctive incentives for using their services. Dennis Bueker, branch manager of Tri Vantage LLC in Cleveland, Ohio, says Tri Vantage has an annual new product show that explains products and services to customers. The show includes complimentary breakfast and lunch, …

Industry professionals discuss changes in the 2009 tent market

These changes were cited by tent fabric suppliers, tent manufacturers and event professionals in the IFAI tent climate survey. By Jeff Rasmussen Suppliers: Fewer suppliers due to consolidation, driven by the down economy and lack of credit Shift in growth from laminated products to coated products More structure and clearspan usage in the U.S. End …

Awnings go green

By Lou Dzierzak From the buzz generated by Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth to rising energy costs on record-setting days of heat, business owners are looking into ways to reduce their environmental footprint. Rainier Industries vice president of sales Bruce Dickinson offers, “It’s on everybody’s mind these days. Architects, designers, and contractors are all concerned …

Microproduction—in the short run

By Janice Kleinschmidt Patti Williams agrees that technology has altered the industrial landscape, but the consulting partner for IT Strategies, a digital printing consulting firm based in Hanover, Mass., eschews the “mass customization” label. “Over the last couple months, I’ve been using a different term—microproduction—because it encompasses the ability to do short runs,” she says. …

Sustainability purchasing programs

Sustainability purchasing programs may take into consideration a wide variety of policies, processes and practices. Publicly available contact information for the chief sustainability officer Sustainability criteria is used in procurement decisions Appropriate records are maintained to feed into corporate sustainability and social responsibility reporting Sustainability policy is built into supplier contracts and measured Relationships with …

Environmental considerations

As the global community turns its attention to environmentally friendly business practices, those printers who are trying to “go green” should be encouraged to learn that, as most available dye-sublimation inks are water based, they have the green advantage. “The same cannot be said for solvent dye sublimation,” says Mimaki’s Steve Urmano. “There are many …

Creating an interior fabric collection

In her book, The Design Directory of Window Treatments, interior design veteran Jackie Von Tobel created thousands of hand-drawn illustrations, but it wasn’t until her friend and business associate, Jeanelle Dech of Adaptive Textiles in West Chester, Pa., suggested that she create a fabric collection based on these designs that Von Tobel knew about the …

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Anatomy of a fabric structure

By Samuel J. Armijos, AIA The percentage of the overall cost of a fabric structure can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the design, the material chosen, the location and access of the site, the cost of labor and equipment, and the amount of material needed to be shipped. Fabric structures are normally priced …

Outdoor advertising

By Sigrid Tornquist Outdoor advertising on street poles and building facades is a growing trend intended to draw customers from the sidewalk into the retail store. “Retail stores, like Target, are spending more and more money on advertising outdoors,” says Mike Von Wachenfeldt, digital fabrics product manager for Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, Glen Raven, N.C. …

Sustainable packaging for products

By Michael Labella Printers who have gone through the trouble of selecting environmentally friendly materials, such as those made with recycled fibers, low-VOC or no-VOC inks, and have worked with designers to create designs that minimize fabric waste, will want to be sure that all their efforts are not wasted through improper or excessive packaging. …

A tensile structure by the sea

By Sigrid Tornquist Though Riad Shakeer, owner of Calypso Marine Canvas Ltd. and Calypso Fabric Architecture Caribbean Ltd. in Chaguanas, Trinidad, has spent most of his career fabricating marine canvas products, he and his niece Neala Bhagwansing have recently ventured into the lightweight structures market segment. Their first major project, in 2006, was a 6,000-square-foot …

Business benefits

By Jill Lafferty Quantifying the benefits businesses receive for their community involvement is tricky, but industry veterans can offer specific examples. Pat Hayes, founder and CEO of Fabric Images Inc., Elgin, Ill., was frustrated with a lack of high speed Internet options he needed for his business. He credits his contributions to economic development in …

What to consider when buying equipment

Thinking about buying equipment? These manufacturers recommend that you start by considering some important questions. Eric Walton, Custom Canvas Alaska Do you have the need or will you have the need? Do you have the space? Is the price right? Will the equipment open new markets? Tim Searfoss, Roll-Rite Is it the right piece of …

Commercializing smart textiles

By Barb Ernster The smart textile market may be in its infancy, but like most technology it will have an exponential evolution until it gets its footing, and then more interest and money will be applied to it, says David O’Keefe, president and CEO of Advanced Fabric Technologies LLC in Houston, Texas. He believes it …

What do customers want in a fabric project?

By the Fabric Graphics Association “Customers want fast production turnover with exact color matches,” says Maureen Kelly, The Design Loft . “Of course, all customers want a project that hangs well.” “Customers want wrinkle resistance, fabric to be flame retardant, washable and meet a specific color or look,” says Jim Knoche of Lawrence Fabric & …

Defining a brand

By Anne M. Berg Brands are living systems. They evolve by necessity. At their core, they consist of a brilliant idea—an elemental product concept that delights the customer. For Apple®, it’s design. For FedEx®, it’s overnight. For Disneyland® Resort, it’s happiness. Beyond their core, brands offer a constant stream of ever-changing smaller ideas. To stay …

Hardware: Signs and banners

By Maura Keller Within the display hardware arena, hole reinforcement technology is at the core, coming in the form of grommets and washers. Two leading manufacturers of grommets and washers include Dot Fasteners in Clarkesville, Ga., and Stimpson Co. in Pompano Beach, Fla. Sheet metal grommets, plain washers, tooth washers, rolled rim grommets, and rolled …

Equipment tech insights

What technological changes have most impacted your business? By Janice Kleinschmidt The biggest change in the past years is the development of ultrasonic cutting without turning the fabric. —Roel Diederen, ASCO BV Electronic motors have increased our sales. In the past year, they have become portable. Within the next couple years, standard clutch motors will …

Vest keeps first responders cool

By Sigrid Tornquist In response to comments made by clients, Amit Kapoor of First Line Technology set out to find a way to keep first responders cool in a variety of high-temperature environments. In collaboration with CarbonX Non-Flammable Fabrics (a product of Chapman Innovations), Kapoor designed heat-activated PhaseCore® cooling vests. The environmentally friendly phase change …

Custom orders are in the bag

By Sigrid Tornquist When Wm. J. Mills & Co. made its first canvas tote bag in 1951, it was as a custom order. Not long afterward, the company included canvas tote bags as a part of its product line, using scrap material and displaying them on the showroom floor. The bags gained popularity, but it …

Academia and the Army

The U.S. Army established the Flexible Display Center (FDC) at Arizona State University, Tempe, Ariz., in 2004 “to spearhead the next revolution in information displays,” according to its website. The center partners with academia, industry and government, providing design, development, early-stage prototyping and low-volume production services. The goal is to create displays that are flexible, …

Lighting the way

By Maura Keller When it comes to dressing an otherwise plain, warehouse-like space, it’s important to incorporate fabric graphics that add height, color, branding and create ambience. Just ask Fabric Images. In October 2012, Fabric Images created a display for New Holland at EIMA that was designed by Francesco Mansueto and consisted of a series …

A good value is priceless

Whether selling or buying, using the language of “value,” rather than price, is critical. By Holly O’Dell Price can be defined as: the amount of money asked for or given in exchange for something else. Valuecan be defined as: the desirability of something, often in terms of usefulness or exchangeability. Cost can be defined as: …

For printing, position yourself as the expert

By Holly O’Dell Fabric graphics can open the door to new opportunities and repeat business. The key is to match the customer with the correct solution. “The client shares with us what they are looking for, and we recommend the best print method, application and fabric to give the desired result,” says Jim Knoche of …

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Next-generation fabricators

The economy has not been the biggest problem for marine fabricators; it’s the lack of qualified workers to carry on the craft—this and the need to incorporate new equipment that can speed up the process and help small shops run more efficiently. “These are the two ‘evils’ of our industry that no one has been …

Snapshot: Client support, on time

By Sigrid Tornquist Among the benefits of creating a process-driven workplace is the ability to turn out high-quality products in a short time frame. And, as a wholesale manufacturer, Pinz Co. Ltd. also values its ability to support its customers as they, in turn, fulfill their clients’ needs. When South East Blinds and Awnings in …

Erickson helps launch marine-based charter high school

By Sigrid Tornquist Can learning science through the study of biological oceanic projects and learning math through marine fabrication give high school students the tools they need for life after high school? Mike Erickson, MFC, who was a founding board member of the Riviera Beach Maritime Academy, thinks so. And so do the Marine Industry …

Resources help businesses become energy efficient

By Marc Hequet Find out more about making your business energy efficient: The U.S. Small Business Administration provides a free document, “The Small Business Guide to Energy Efficiency,” at this site: www.sba.gov or www.business.gov. Energy Star, a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, offers a free downloadable document on …

Understanding the Berry Amendment

By Teresa Bouchonnet The stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1), included legislation offered by North Carolina Congressman Larry Kissell mandating that any textile and apparel products contracted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) be manufactured in the United States with 100 percent U.S. inputs. This mandate, known as the …

Software service growth could fuel industry revolution

By Janet Preus Roy Chism, president of The Chism Company in San Antonio, Texas, says that with the growth of software services, “you’re not going to be buying the software any more.” “I anticipate a big shift when this industry recognizes the tremendous resources that are already available to it both internally and externally. The …

Trends impact marine industry

By Jeff Rasmussen Survey results show that suppliers and end-product manufacturers are feeling the impact of a more competitive environment resulting from trends such as low-cost imports, price discounting and slow market growth due largely to a weak economy. These trends have caused many marine end-product manufacturers to diversify their businesses to compete more effectively. …

Top 10 tips for high-quality customer service

By Alton Martin 1. Have a service strategy for organization. 2. Keep customer satisfaction data. 3. Use the data to take specific action based on customer feedback. 4. Model good companies that provide excellent service. 5. Look for examples of excellent service outside of your industry. 6. Be open to new ideas and approaches to …

Keep printers busy by subcontracting

By Maura Keller One of the most important aspects of fabric graphics printing is keeping your printers busy. Sure, a few days or a week of “downtime” won’t damage your machines, but if one of your printers is repeatedly sitting idle, it may be time to consider subcontracting work to maintain workflow and improve your …

Fire retardancy/resistance standards

By Candy Adams Since all exhibit structures are regulated by the fire ordinances of the locale and enforced by the fire marshal having jurisdiction over the venue where the exhibit will be erected, it is imperative that fire retardancy standards meet or exceed local fire protection standards. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) has set …

Flying “pumpkins” fight fires

By Jamie Swedberg BWI Enterprises Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta, is manufacturing a product that has lifting straps like a bulk bag, but is designed to be picked up by a helicopter, not a forklift. “It’s for firefighting,” says president Brian Cook. “The helicopter picks the bag up, dips it in where there’s a water source, …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Mark Welander, owner of Fabricon

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist What is your industry prediction? When you consider the use of membranes since the time of early man and the strides being made in the development of fabrics today, it’s inevitable that there will continue to be growth for this industry. What is your business philosophy? Do your best to try …

Taiwan institute marks 50 years in textiles

The Taiwan Textile Research Institute (TTRI) celebrated its 50th anniversary in its headquarters in Tucheng City, Taipei County, on Dec. 3, 2009. More than 100 prominent guests attended, including all the former chairmen. The institute changed its name from the China Textile Institute in 2004. In 2008, it expanded to the southern region of Taiwan …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Craig Fawcett, president of Lethbridge Custom Canvas

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist What is your industry prediction? To a degree, the weaker businesses have been weeded out. If you’ve made it through these last couple of years intact, business should start picking up. What is your business philosophy? Train the employees, give them the authority to make decisions and then stand by the …

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Determining a schedule of values

By Samuel J. Armijos, AIA The best way to understand the cost of a fabric structure is to request a schedule of values (SOV) or a breakdown of the major costs. Design (5-15%) Design development to construction document. Percentage varies depending on design/build vs. plans and specification approach. Engineering (5-15%) Awning to dome stadium. All …

Pondering the printing process

By Maura Keller Jason Bartusick, president of Media One, says that those companies that are striving to determine the best printing processes for their market applications need to establish whether they want indoor or outdoor durability. Depending on that, they need to answer a few questions: Do they have any existing equipment that would work …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Marco Sánchez, general manager of ML Ingeniería and Azoteas Verdes

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist What were you most afraid of when taking that risky step of starting your own company? At that moment, the thing I was most afraid of was losing my reputation as a good technical engineer. Of course, when I decided to start the company I was finishing my MBA, and that …

Industry facts

By Jeff Rasmussen U.S. autos: 11.6 million units sold in 2010. China’s specialty fabrics market grew 10% in 2010. U.S. GDP up 2.9% in 2010. World market for specialty textiles grew 2-3% in 2010. Steady improvement in the specialty fabrics industry anticipated. Mills that have survived improved efficiencies to counter 2008-09 losses. U.S. Bureau of …

Practical idealism

By Jill Lafferty Bud Weisbart, vice president of A&R Tarpaulins Inc., refers to himself as a practical idealist. He believes that the people in the specialty fabrics industry have the knowledge and skills to benefit lives around the world, but need to partner with some deep pockets, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, …

The perfect customer

We asked equipment manufacturers to describe their perfect customer. By Holly O’Dell The perfect customer… …is open to new ideas and the benefits they can bring to the bottom line. No one likes changing the way they do things—if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. It goes back to what my father told me when …

Specialty Fabrics Review interviews Jim Miller, president of J. Miller Canvas Inc.

Interview by Sigrid Tornquist You do a significant amount of work for Disney®. What advice do you have for working with such a large, iconic corporation? We started working with them 15 years ago and they’re still one of our best customers. Obviously, you have to be able to produce quality products, and have the …