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Welding / Gluing on 01/22/2007 16:03:43 MST Print View

Hey everyone, maybe you've seen me before on the forums around here but likely with a different login name. I've start up my own tiny little gear shop, Adapt All-Terrain Gear, and I'm finally in the process of, you might say, getting everything off the ground. I intend to solicit lots of feedback from the BPL community, among others, so for the purposes of gear design, I'll be using this user name. FYI.

I wanted to inquire about welding or gluing fabrics instead of sewing. The materials that we're familiar with--primarily nylon and polyester--are plastics just like any other plastics, but that is about the extent of my knowledge. I know that nylon in particular, at least in its nonwoven form, can be welded with a lowly heat gun. Anybody have any thoughts about whether this might work for woven nylon, and whether the bond would be suitable for use in outdoor gear?

Partially I'm asking because this might, just might, let me be lazy about learning to sew. However, if it turns out that welding (or gluing, even) can work for BP gear, I'm imagining it might simplify construction, and I suppose it could even surface as money saved for the consumer. At the very least, it should mean no need to seam seal.

So, I welcome all your thoughts. And don't forget to check out my website, It will be overhauled soon but the important stuff is already there right now.

Edited by adaptgear on 01/22/2007 16:06:15 MST.

Vick Hines
(vickrhines) - F

Locale: Central Texas
Re: Welding / Gluing on 01/22/2007 19:17:44 MST Print View

The manufacturers of plastic welding equipment and glues are usually very helpful about tech stuff, in my experience. You are going to run into issues such as incompatible coatings and treatments that must be removed before effective welding/glueing. For example, silicone doesn't weld, but will prevent silnylon from being welded. On the other hand, silnylon can be glued. But the glue line is only as strong as the silicone bond to the nylon and/or as the silicone itself.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Re: Welding / Gluing on 01/22/2007 20:44:58 MST Print View

There are many advantages to gluing, and the adhesives that are available can glue everything from your fingers to commercial / military aircraft fuselages and many things in between.

You might also consider talking with the fabric and material manufacturers, as they should be able to provide you properties about the materials that may not be obvious. In particular, compatibility information on how well a particular material performs long term and in various environments vs. the adhesive or welding technique.

Good luck,

Kevin Denlinger
(ktdenlinger) - F

Locale: Great Lakes Region
Welding / Gluing on 01/22/2007 21:23:13 MST Print View

I think you will find that welding/gluing will turn out to be more complicated and expensive than sewing. The idea is certainly not new. Look at the welded seems on the rain coats in camping section of a superstore. As noted above coatings adn strength are very important. I would call the home ec teacher at your old high school or talk the ladies at your local sewing store and you may find that the required talent may easlily be augmented with sewing machine technology.

Re: Re: Re: Welding / Gluing on 01/23/2007 15:01:19 MST Print View

So the complexities that were mentioned lead me to another question that I've been pondering: why aren't nonwoven materials used more often? In an application like a backpack where breathability isn't much of a concern, it seems like a nonwoven would offer simpler construction as well as automatic waterproofing (assuming bonding instead of sewing).

Or is the simple answer that wovens are typically more durable than the same material in a nonwoven? All I know about that question is that mylar space blankets shred easily, but then, those space blankets are extremely light. On the other hand, the AMK Heatsheets appear to be pretty durable, particularly for their extremely low weight, and as far as I know those are nonwoven. So are FlexAir pillows, and the ones I own have survived several trips without incident.

What I've been researching, very cursorily, is that ultralight nonwoven materials are a LOT cheaper than something like spinnaker or plain lightweight ripstop. One of the prime aims of my company is to try to make ultralight methods accessible to any income bracket, so if I could make nonwovens work for things like packs, and maybe tarps(?), that would be a huge step in the right direction.

Who has some knowledge?