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Back to the future

November 1, 2015

From 1915 to 2015—and beyond—we’ve gone from horsepower to hovercraft, yet business basics still surround technology. If the only constant in life is change, that’s also certainly true for the specialty fabrics industry and Specialty Fabrics Review, whether from a perspective inside the industry or the view from outside. Beginning as a narrowly focused journal …

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Celebrating 100 years of Review

In its earliest incarnation, the Review began as a newsletter shortly after the National Tent & Awning Manufacturers Association was formed in 1912, and gradually took on characteristics resembling a journal of record for the industry, reporting on trends and important industry developments. It became a magazine with the November 1915 publication of The National …

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An awning of a different color

April 2, 2015

Carrying the load: Framed awnings and tensile awnings must meet different engineering and code standards. Erik Jarvie, structural engineer and sales manager for TensionStructures (a division of Eide Industries Inc., Cerritos, Calif.) lays it out straight on the curvy business of tensile awnings: “Tensile awnings typically have fabric that is under a significant amount of …

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Behind the curves

April 1, 2015

Tensile structures add exciting new dimensions —and distinct engineering challenges— to the commercial shade products market. It could be said, like the mythical Greek lion-goat-snake beast the chimera, that the tensile awning is a creature of blended ancestors. Not long ago, structures with tensile fabric characteristics started appearing in places often reserved for framed awnings …

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Tensile awnings, by design

March 16, 2015

Designing and fabricating tensile awnings calls for a special skill set. Craig Flanagan, long-time owner of Shade to Order P/L, Gateshead, NSW, Australia, knows a thing or two about producing tensile awnings and canopies. He has some recommendations for those interested in the market. “In a small factory the fabricator is the sales person, designer, …

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The art (and science) of being flexible

December 1, 2014

Some of the most innovative new materials for architectural applications are found in flexible composites: 1+1=3 Buildings are supposed to stand up strong and—believe it or not—be both flexible and durable. Despite impressions to the contrary, even buildings made of steel and concrete must be flexible to resist cracking and ultimately falling apart. The length …

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“Skinning the box”

July 1, 2014

The challenge is finding the right materials in architectural applications. Is the building cladding going to be massive and highly insulated, or is it going to be layer upon layer of thin insulating materials? Will the south and west sides be completely glazed or mostly opaque? The most important challenge in designing and constructing a …

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Economies of scope

June 1, 2014

Fabric structures designed for storage, warehousing and shelter can be as durable as brick-and-mortar structures, and far more flexible. With the construction of fabric structures consistently meeting (and often exceeding) stringent building codes, you’d think that more clients would opt for one of these highly engineered and efficient fabric-clad buildings. With clearspan or air-supported fabric …

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Going to extremes

February 1, 2014

Despite worldwide climate issues, fabric structures meet the environmental challenges. News of a 100-year “polar vortex” in the U.S. midwestern states, increasing tsunami destruction in the Caribbean and coastal Japan, typhoons in Southeast Asia—one could begin to believe that “extreme climate conditions” is an oxymoron, because it seems that the unusual is becoming the usual. …

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Positively portable structures

November 1, 2013

High-performance cladding makes transportable fabric structures unique—and practical. Native Americans have known for eons about the virtues of lightweight, flexible fabric-wrapped structures, long before Europeans arrived in North America in the 15th century. Camping enthusiasts have appreciated lightweight, portable tents for generations. Likewise, rock concert road shows have benefited from the sophisticated techniques of mobile …