Unlike traditional construction materials such as brick and concrete, tensile fabric structures can be entirely manufactured off site meaning minimum disruption to the client. As a result, the manufacture of tensile fabric requires large clear span spaces as the surface area of a single piece can reach up to hundreds of square metres; although manufacturing companies are usually limited by the weight of large membranes more than the size!
Using such a wide range of fabrics it is necessary to adopt a variety of manufacturing methods to cut and join tensile fabrics, from advanced sail-making techniques to more industrial large scale manufacturing processes. In general, we use 3 main methods to join architectural fabrics:
1. Welding: the majority of our fabrics suitable for external use, and some of those for interior use, are joined by radio frequency welding. This consists of heating the thermo-plastic element in the fabric coating using electromagnetic waves to soften them and bond the two layers of fabric together. Advanced welding technology allows us to create an even strength across the length of the weld and a bond which will withstand extremely high tensile loads.
Not all fabrics can be welded easily and some require an additional layer of bonding tape to ensure the weld can achieve the strength and stability requirements for this type of application; the seam is designed to have the same tensile strength as the fabric itself.
2. Sewing: For smaller projects and for reinforcement patches on some larger membranes, we use industrial sewing machines to join fabric using UV stable thread to stitch layers to one another.
3. Gluing: For some applications and some types of fabric membrane, including silicon coated glass cloth, welding or sewing are not an effective means of joining. Gluing using a high-bond adhesive will also provide a joint with adequate strength and durability
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