Working with Dyneema® Composite Fabrics: A comprehensive tutorial

Working with Dyneema® Composite Fabrics: A comprehensive tutorial

Hi, I’m Wes Hatcher Applications Manager for
DSM Dyneema® fabrics and composites division. In this video, I’m going to
share some basic construction techniques to best utilize the attributes and
properties of Dyneema® composite fabrics. These fabrics stand out for their low
weight high-strength waterproof and bondable characteristics.
Not to mention they’re pretty cool. Because Dyneema® composite fabrics are a cutting edge material, I think every application that we get to work on
is fairly advanced and different from what’s out there on the market. Dyneema® composite fabrics are made of multiple directions of oriented Dyneema fibers with adhesive
and films on the top and bottom. Dyneema® is regarded as the
world’s strongest fiber. So there are basically four types of applications
that our materials are best suited for. Tents and tarps XL one of the best
because of the strength to weight ratio. We have the lightest materials on the
market. No water absorption. Completely waterproof throughout its life. Carry product, obviously, same thing. Waterproof, very lightweight
but very, very strong capable fabrics. In apparel, we’re still looking
for the best applications for our materials as they are a bit unorthodox. And footwear. We think we have a pretty good
value proposition for strength added items. Selecting the right fabrics
depends on the task at hand. For example, for tarps and tents
we use thin polyester films that can be bonded with PSA adhesives. Pack and carry fabrics utilize
woven polyester face fabrics to help add color and sturdiness. Materials with a TPU film
are mainly used for footwear but can also be used for beautiful carry products. They are a bit heavier and they allow for heat welding. It’s a common misconception
that Dyneema® fabrics are hard to cut but actually some of the most advanced products can be constructed with fairly
basic tools. So let me show you a few things. There are basically two ways
you can cut Dyneema® composite fabrics. Either with shears or a razor knife. Everyone can get a hold of a pair of scissors. The trick is that they’re sharp and you use
them in a sliding motion with proper tension, no chopping is required. The second way is with a razor knife. It’s a simple way to get an accurate cut. Grab your cut resistant gloves and the self-healing cut surface and start cutting out your pattern. We won’t go into CNC here but if you have access to a laser cutter on the job or in your studio lower power is all that’s required to cut through most Dyneema® composite fabrics. Dyneema® has a lower melt
so the laser always brings out a nice sealed edge for bonded patching on
overlays or tie out reinforcements. So now you have your pattern cut out you’re ready to start construction. There are hundreds of ways you can bond
and sew Dyneema® composite fabrics but for simplicity, we’re gonna focus
on three main methods. Bonding with PSA tape, stitching seal and heat welding. Stitching and sealing is a simple way to join our thicker fabrics for backpack or
carry design. To make your product waterproof
we offer a single-sided reinforced PSA tape that can be hand or machine applied
for seam sealing. All you need is a sewing machine, a clean design, a steady hand and some small fixtures to
help you tape the seams. PSA or Pressure-Sensitive Adhesive
gives us a simple method to bond tarps and tents, to achieve adequate strength
while only adding the least amount of weight. There are many PSAs on the market. We’ve chosen one that offers the best compromise between low weight, peel and shear
strength. Our CT PSA is available from distributors at several widths. It’s pretty easy to use via two release liners. Simply remove the first paper liner and
apply the PSA to the seam on a clean dry surface. A quick wipe with rubbing
alcohol can ensure that the surface is clean. Once the tape is pressed down remove the plastic backer
or use it as an alignment tool to join the two panels. Heating, no higher than 135 degrees
Celsius or 275 Fahrenheit, accelerates the cure time for this type of PSA. Within a few days, your seam
will reach its ultimate strength. Be sure not to melt the fabric with a household iron and do a small temperature test on a
piece of scrap material before you start When properly cured, a bonded seam can be stronger than the material itself. We’ll briefly touch on heat welding because more of these materials will become available in the near future. This is an exciting development because it allows designers to create items that appear to
be seamless without compromising strength. Heat welding is also a way of
bonding overlays to add reinforcement to traditional weaker woven products. All you need is a heat press with good temperature control. Now to exceed 135 degrees Celsius. The surface coatings we have chosen will bond well at these temperatures. Simply align your seam, tack with an iron and be sure it doesn’t move
in the press. A release paper or liner can help to align or remove the item from the press. All you need is to press for Thirty Seconds to a minute to achieve an adequate bond. More time might be required based on your tests. This bond is instant so curing time is not needed. If you want to take things to the
next level in production we’ve also found that RF welding techniques
can be applied to these types of materials. We get a lot of questions about
how to take care of your tarp or tent made out of Dyneema® fabric. For starters allow it to dry, shake off the dirt,
roll it lightly and slide it into the sack. Don’t stuff it. That’ll cause extra wrinkles. Backpacks are top-rack dishwasher safe
and that’s just about all there is to it. After this video, it’ll make me pretty
happy to see people starting to push the boundaries
with Dyneema® composite fabrics.

4 Replies to “Working with Dyneema® Composite Fabrics: A comprehensive tutorial”

  1. Wow, fantastic video. I'm just starting to get into this. The thought of bonding some things with tape instead of stitching is really appealing, especially for items you need to remain waterproof.

  2. Thanks for the post, I am currently prototyping and sourcing materials for clothing, tents and tarps, how do we get ahold of a roll of DCF?

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