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Fighting pink stain

November 1, 2017

The work “pink” brings to mind a little girl dressed as a princess, cotton candy at the county fair and plastic lawn flamingos. But for those in the marine industry, the word takes on a sinister connotation as a stain caused by streptoverticillium reticulum. It’s a far greater menace than a never-washed red garment laundered …

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From machines to humans: Boost the productivity of your business

September 1, 2017

Improving productivity depends on a combination of efficient employees, equipment and processes. Driving improvement in all these areas involves examining the current practices in place and making adjustments to systems, employee training, technology, equipment and tools. From small tweaks in communication processes to large technology improvements, companies are using many techniques to boost productivity. Tecsew …

Information please: Automated reporting paves the way to productivity

In addition to reviewing in-house monthly profit and loss statements, The Dize Co., an awnings fabricator in Winston Salem, N.C., monitors information gathered by an independent, web-based company. “I can go online and see what we installed the week before and what we have in the pipeline for the next four to six weeks,” president/CEO …

Go with the flow: Relocating a business opens the door to efficient shop layouts

After 85 years in a historical, four-story building, Ohio Awning & Manufacturing Co. moved to a newer, one-story building. The Cleveland-based company took advantage of the relocation to design its new floor layout with workflow in mind. The move also allowed Ohio Awning to invest in a cutting machine, which it didn’t have space for …

Crossover skills give upholsterers business opportunities in many markets

August 1, 2017

The president of the Professional Upholsterers’ Association of Minnesota proudly states that she was the fifth woman to graduate from an upholstery curriculum at Minneapolis Technical College in 1977. “It was considered a man’s field back then,” says Diana Shroyer Guenther, owner of Shroyer Custom Upholstery in Coon Rapids, Minn. She worked one year for …

Know-how now

July 24, 2017

Experienced upholsterers consider the loss of training in their trade, and how to bring in new talent. With 39 years in the upholstery industry, Chip Lueck recalls a vast pool of shops around the country with talented upholsterers. “It’s not there anymore,” says the owner of Recovery Room in Panama City Beach, Fla. “I’ve talked …

An education in upholstery

The owner of The Funky Little Chair sets out to preserve quality and services by offering upholstery classes at her shop. “The Funky Little Chair” could be the title of a children’s book, but Cynthia Bleskachek’s lessons are for adults. “If people want to be a professional upholsterer, they have to dig in and figure …

Trends in the awning markets

May 5, 2017

Fabrics and products evolve to serve the changing needs of customers. Companies involved in the awning and screen markest are feeling optimistic. Bill Pattison, general manager of Goodwin-Cole Co. in Sacramento, Calif., credits fabric manufacturers with introducing ever-better products with no-fade guarantees and self-cleaning technology. “Things like that give us something to talk about with …

Introducing awning fabrics

May 2, 2017

A balancing act: the complexity of making changes and additions to product lines. Recasens USA of Blue Bell, Pa., sells solution-dyed acrylic awning fabrics, called RECacril®, and PVC-coated polyester solar screen fabrics, called RECscreen®. Doug Dubay, national sales manager, calls the introduction of fabrics “a balancing act, because you want to stay current with color …

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Shade 101: Beyond the basics

May 1, 2017

Successful marketing and selling means reaching, educating and caring for customers—in print, in person and online. Sit outside in sun and rain.  Reduce cooling costs and glare. Protect indoor and outdoor furnishings from UV rays. Add a level of privacy while enhancing the architecture of your home or business. Increase property value. Gain visibility for …

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May the workforce be with you

April 1, 2017

Manufacturers are facing a variety of staffing challenges, and responding to the need to educate the public as well as potential employees about the benefits of a hands-on career. It’s easy enough to understand that a lack of jobs can wreak havoc on economies, from local to global scales. What can be more complex is …

Strategic retention

March 28, 2017

It’s one thing to find qualified workers; it’s another to keep them happy in their jobs. Inman Mills has a 116-year history as a textiles manufacturer, now staffing three plants with 700 employees. The Inman, S.C.-headquartered company enjoys a low turnover rate and, in fact, has employees who have been with the company for 40 …

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Inflation rates

February 1, 2017

Blow-up shapes and structures make a valuable medium for edgy and interactive art. When Los Angeles based artist Paul McCarthy installed two works in Munich’s Haus der Kunst, the widely known provocateur hired a company that specializes in inflatables for branding to create a flowerpot of geraniums to cover the museum’s roofline. The blow-up vinyl-coated …

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Air Apparent

January 1, 2017

Companies and event organizers use inflatables to grab public attention and promote their brands.  Although he now sells spaces in luxury subterranean survival shelters, Robert Vicino once focused his entrepreneurial spirit on loftier altitudes. He put a 90-foot King Kong on the Empire State Building and designed Otto the Autopilot for the farcical movie Airplane. …

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Built for comfort, durability, and safety

December 19, 2016

Fabric manufacturers and upholsterers balance traveler and commuter requirements. Whether for business or for pleasure, people are always on the go. More than 121 million U.S. workers are employed full time, according to 2015 statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor. To reach their work destinations, 85 percent of these workers commute in automobiles, and …

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Beyond branding

November 29, 2016

Inflatables manufacturers find diverse markets in addition to promotional products. To attract the attention of drivers, car dealerships float spheres or other shapes with automakers’ logos. People dressed in inflatable costumes that identify them as brand mascots line festival walkways to interact with attendees. Giant replicas of consumer goods—whether it’s a can of beer or …

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Fear of flying?

Companies that make air- and helium-filled products weigh the risks. When Pink Floyd’s trademark helium pig got too high at a Coachella concert in 2008 and drifted away, no one got hurt—even though the pink inflatable was, as the Associated Press reported, “as tall as a two-story house and as wide as two school buses.” …

The growing ground for durable nonwovens

October 11, 2016

David Nelson was devoted to nonwoven technology at 3M when the Minnesota-based corporate powerhouse became a charter member of The Nonwovens Institute, which launched in 2007 at North Carolina State University. Nelson served on the institute’s industrial advisory board for six years, three years as chairman. He also served for six years on the board …

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Nonwovens reach beyond their beginnings as disposables

October 1, 2016

While he was managing nonwovens research and development at 3M, David Nelson observed an irony surrounding the technology with which he had been involved for 35 of his 40 years at the Minnesota-based powerhouse. “When I gave updates, I would say, ‘Of our 48 technologies, nonwoven is the only one described by what it isn’t …

Applications for durable nonwovens

September 19, 2016

Nonwovens may be best known for their role in disposable products; but, with advances in technology, these engineered fabrics are reaching further into markets where traditional textiles have been used. Ulrich Hornfeck, board member and chief commercial officer at Sandler AG, offers examples from the German-based company’s portfolio: Transportation: interior and exterior absorbers, carrier materials …

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Textile manufacturers respond to the need for flexible medical and biomedical products

September 1, 2016

In the world of bad news/good news scenarios, one can hardly find a more salient example than that presented in the medical arena. Technological advances are gaining traction amid the growing threats of superbugs, global spread of disease and demand for regenerative treatments to address the needs of aging populations. A Grand View Research Inc. …

American Hospital Association endorsement for medical textiles

July 29, 2016

AHA endorsement begins with the identification of hospitals’ most significant market challenges. Insurance, data-driven services and management software comprise the bulk of the 32 “solutions” endorsed by the American Hospital Association (AHA). Among the field, only one company, Vestagen Protective Technologies Inc. of Orlando, Fla., manufactures textile products. In 2015, the AHA issued an endorsement …

ISO updates for medical applications

July 28, 2016

Certification and regulatory compliance verification can be key for medical field customers. Organizations involved in the production of textiles used in medical applications may wish to become certified to ISO 13485 in order to ensure the effectiveness of their processes and demonstrate to customers their commitment to safe products, as well as compliance with regulatory …

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Going up?

June 29, 2016

Creating a function—and personable—space for increasingly demanding customers is taking the tent-rental industry in some new directions. Poodle skirts and love beads, glam rock and disco, mood rings and pet rocks. There’s no denying that some trends end up being fads that fade. Occasionally, a trend—typically something with a reason to its rhyme—grabs a solid …

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Special effects for digitally printed interior décor

June 14, 2016

Combine textured fabrics, dazzling metallic effects, LED lighting and acoustics for interiors that impress. In and of themselves, digitally printed wall and window coverings, as well as upholstery-type products for interior décor, add pizzazz to residential and commercial settings. Additional effects can boost the impact significantly. The first product from DreamScape™, a division of Roysons …

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Digital printing pushes boundaries in interior décor

June 1, 2016

If you follow interior design news, you probably know that major paint companies Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams herald Simply White and Alabaster as their respective 2016 “colors of the year.” Fortunately for those who eschew plain vanilla environments, there’s another growing trend: walls and even windows brought to life with digitally printed graphics. In a …

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Framework for success

March 1, 2016

Companies with in-house metal shops enjoy advantages in quality control and customer service, plus increased opportunities for expanding operations. Like the stars of box-office hits, fabric usually gets all the glory as the most noticeable player (especially when emblazoned with colors and custom graphics) in structural protective coverings. But just like those high-grossing stars of …

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Start to finish

February 15, 2016

Fabric structure companies with metal shops make material decisions based on multiple factors. Site conditions, local building codes, aspects of design and customer preferences dictate the type of metal used with fabric structures, says Gerald Thompson, CEO of Awnings of Hollywood. His company works with high-strength steel pipe and tubing, aluminum pipe and tubing, and …

R&D for everyone

January 1, 2016

Gaston College Textile Technology Center offers its equipment and expertise for hire. Autocoro, MDTA Rotorring, Spectraflash, Statimat. If you don’t have one of these, know how to operate one or even know what it does, don’t feel bad. That’s why there’s a place like Gaston College Textile Technology Center in Belmont, N.C. The facility has …

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Supplying forces

November 1, 2015

The U.S. relies on the domestic industrial base to meet military needs. In enacting the Defense Production Act of 1950, Congress listed eight findings to support its “statement of policy.” The last one states that “the inability of industries in the United States, especially smaller subcontractors and suppliers, to provide vital parts and components and …

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Sustainability: public engagement

October 15, 2015

Raising awareness of fabric recycling and re-using keeps the conversation going. With the proliferation of social media, the general public has become accustomed to interacting with companies as well as each other. And companies increasingly appreciate the importance of being part of the larger conversation. Insularity is no longer a protection of corporate advantage. In …

The foreign exchange

October 9, 2015

If IFAI decided to give out a Most PowerPoint Slides Award, there’s no doubt the association would bestow it upon Mary Lynn Landgraf, senior international trade specialist at the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Textiles and Apparel. Her IFAI Expo Advanced Textiles presentation titled “New Approaches to Selling to the Military” comprised a whopping …

A MUST do list

October 8, 2015

It’s not just being close to Washington, D.C., and its plethora of lobbyists that might make the vice president of operations for AdvanTech Inc. of Annapolis, Md., believe in the power of numbers. And if there is power in numbers, there must be power in databases. That explains, in part, why Robert Bona came to …

Seeing is believing

October 7, 2015

Everybody wants to get noticed, but it’s more than just an ego thing. It’s a safety issue, as Shari Franklin Smith vividly demonstrated during an interactive IFAI Expo session on “The Science Behind Conspicuous Designs.” The technical service manager for the Personal Safety Division at 3M led attendees through a series of “tests” to disclose …

One thing leads to another

After the tsunami-triggered Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown in 2011, a Japanese aerospace company that had met representatives from California’s AR Tech during a trade mission to that country asked for help in a better technology to protect the hundreds of miles of cable running through the plant. Amir Massoudi, director of quality and engineering …

Keeping it tight

October 6, 2015

Expo attendees could hardly be misled by the lengthy descriptor title “Influence of Inherently Super-Nonwetting Fiber and Fabric Designs Repellency and Resistance to Liquid Penetration.” So attendees at Dr. Quoc Troung’s presentation clearly held expertise and specific interest in the finer points of fabric structure. The physical scientist at the U.S. Army Natick Solder Research, …

Crypton’s superheroes

Though this isn’t Comic Con, Hardy Sullivan called upon comic book-style superheroes in his expo presentation titled “Super Fabric Advancements Combat Arch Villains.” The vice president of research and development for Crypton Inc. described several of his company’s textile products with graphic representations as follows: “Splendor” represented Revl™ anti-graffiti vinyl, launched in March. “It has …

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Making the rounds

October 1, 2015

Textile waste is gaining new life through closed-loop processes, creating more products (and some profits) in more industries. Forty-five years ago, Kermit (the frog) lamented, “It’s not easy bein’ green.” Environmentally speaking, it still may not be easy, but it’s becoming less difficult every day—and more profitable. “We introduced a recycled fabric prototype 15 years …

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Loopy thinking

September 17, 2015

From yarn to fabric, and back to yarn: recycling and repurposing materials. For companies with vision, strategic moves often require a leap of faith. In 2012, Designtex began using yarn produced from recycled fabric waste it had accumulated. “At the time, we were not sure if we would be successful in making a first-quality yarn,” …

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Work smarter

August 1, 2015

Tools and strategies to help tent rental companies get maximum efficiency from their crews. “Our philosophy is that installing tents is hard. How can we make it easier for the installer?” posits Kenny Puff, armed with an answer. “Every tent installer should have his own toolkit with the basics so they’re not continually borrowing or …

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Narrow fabrics industrial evolution

July 1, 2015

Narrow fabrics are matching the high-performance needs of safety, medical and military markets with their own technological advances. Say “narrow fabric” and the average consumer may think of ribbon and zippers. The markets for narrow fabric manufacturers go far beyond those products, and with ongoing technological advances are broadening even further. Carolina Narrow Fabric proves …

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Shape shifters

May 18, 2015

Today’s tent manufacturers and renters are thinking outside the rectangle. The Pythagoreans dissected a sphere as early as 600 B.C. Plato and Buckminster Fuller took the ball and ran with it, so to speak. But in 2015, Platonic polyhedral/geodesic domes still are fresh on the scene when it comes to tented events. After all, rental …

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Open ended

Stretch-tent companies tout their limitless options “With consumers being bombarded by the latest and greatest marketing techniques, companies are always interested in ways to capture their audience’s attention,” says Stuart Johnstone, owner of Stretch Marquees & Fabric Structures in Sydney, Australia. “New designs are always a hit. “The exciting thing about working with stretch tents …

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Outer limits

October 1, 2014

High-performance fabrics and finishes stretch the capabilities of athletes and recreational sports enthusiasts. Once upon a time, recreational sports were pretty tame: croquet, badminton, golf, rowing. But as humans eyed what new technology afforded them in the way of action, they began pushing the physical limits. When ESPN launched the X Games in 1995, it …

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Potable and portable

April 1, 2014

Manufacturers tackle the world’s growing need for safe drinking water–after disasters, and before. When a chemical storage tank in West Virginia leaked this past January, 300,000 people were unable to drink water from their taps. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sent more than 367,000 gallons of water to the nine-county area; the local water …

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Load bearing

December 1, 2013

Manufacturers of fabric-based products find great potential in handling and transporting cargo, as fibers and fabrics become lighter and stronger. The vast majority of products sold must make their way from the place where they are manufactured to the place where they will be used. That simple truth equates to an ocean of opportunities for …

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Bringing outdoor fabrics indoors for interior design

August 1, 2008

Gina Wicker scoffs at the notion that her mother called the place in their house with the sofa the “living” room. “We were never allowed to go in there,” she says. “It was off-limits to the kids.” Today’s living rooms justify the name, thanks to the transition of outdoor fabrics to interior aesthetics. “I think …

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PVC breeds controversy in industrial fabrics industry

July 1, 2008

Poor Waldo Semon. Today the inventor would no doubt fly his private jet to his private island, where he would entertain VIPs in just about any industry you could name. But in 1926, when the B.F. Goodrich Co. researcher devised polyvinyl chloride (PVC), his employer had a hard time marketing it. Today, manufacturers in industries …

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Tent graphics create their own audience

May 1, 2008

Picture a tent, pure white and large enough in which to park a Boeing 747. What would you notice about it? Probably that it was very large, and very white. But what could you notice? “The tent by itself says something special is going on here,” says John Schlueter of Karl’s Event Rental. “But if …

How to do better business online

March 1, 2008

Your business is about making custom fabric products, not creating a Web site to sell custom fabric products. So, dismiss his ideas on forming canopies, if you will, but listen to Bob Filipczak when he talks about conducting business on the Internet. Don’t let his long title—site content and experience specialist in interactive marketing for …