Most fabricators have one or two suppliers for hardware and finishing supplies, depending on the industries they work in most often. But sometimes connectors, trims, ties and tubing can come from unexpected places. Awning makers may find that for an unusual job, marine hardware fits the bill. Fabricators who do a lot of prototyping may find that the hardware sold to manufacturers of awnings, boat covers, furniture or safety and protective gear can come in handy in the invention process.
For example, Faith Roberts, MFC, IFM, owner of Banner Canvas in Minneapolis, Minn., has been using boat-top zippers in prototyping Bluetooth® reader pouches that the military will use in monitoring its working dogs. She has chosen marine buckles and rings to make safety straps used by brake press operators. And she uses Kevlar® thread in sewing missile parts for a government contract.
Charles Duvall, principal at Duvall Design, Portland, Maine, uses a lot of turnbuckles, carabiners, rigging blocks and come-alongs in his work, and as long as they’re solidly constructed and stamped with a weight rating, he’s open-minded about where he gets them.
“There’s a whole world of rigging that is done by arborists, people who work in trees,” he points out. “You can source things that way. And then, also, there’s a whole world of people that do accident recovery—firemen and policemen. There’s all this rigging associated with recovery work.”
Sometimes the best solution is to make the right hardware yourself, or work with someone who can. Nora Norby, MFC, president of Banner Creations Inc. in Minneapolis, Minn., says sometimes one-off or small jobs will require specially made pieces.
“We are located in a building with many kinds of manufacturing within the building,” she says, “so we work with several companies in our building to get custom work done, and we can usually get our needs met.”