Based in Belgium, Pennel & Flipo, through its ORCA® range, designs, produces and distributes high-tech, protective, engineered fabrics for the marine, safety and industry sectors. The company was created in 1924 due to the (then) technical innovation of applying a layer of rubber onto a textile backing. “Innovation is rooted in the heart of our culture,” says Louis Courcoux, U.S. sales manager for Pennel USA Inc.,based in S.C. and a subsidiary of Pennel & Flipo.
Today, the company provides complex flexible textiles, coating on multi-dimensional woven fabrics and a variety of other products. It has been involved in coatings and fabric solutions used in hovercraft skirts, train and bus bellows, decontamination shelters, helicopter floats, oil booms, flexible tanks, lifting bags and inflatable boats.
With new laws that restrict certain chemicals and raw materials used in the industry, the company’s R&D department engineers have had to adapt and find alternative materials to comply with the restrictions. Still, “the coating of textiles is an art,” he says. “Even with the new technologies, you still need know-how from people.”
Courcoux specifically noted the company’s CSM (chlorosulfonated polyethylene)-coated fabrics that are used to make bellows and gangways for train and buses. [These fabrics] pass fire resistance standards accepted worldwide and are resistant to abrasion, extreme conditions, UV Light, and high or low temperatures.
The company works closely with its weaver as the initial textile is so important in terms of the finish product. “We visually check each meter to make sure it is up to our standard before we do the coating,” he says. Its coated fabrics made from a woven aramid are used in high-pressure lifting bags, for example.