Story at a glance:
- Flame retardant fabrics by GALE Pacific include a flame retardant additive that runs throughout the fiber, not just on the surface.
- These shade fabrics are expected to last for 10 years outdoors.
- GALE Pacific’s fabric materials create strength and dimensional stability.
Unlike other companies that achieve flame retardant properties by donning a surface treatment, our flame retardant additive runs all the way through the fiber. I’ll use the analogy of carrot versus onion. If you cut a carrot, it’s orange inside. If you cut an onion, it’s white. With the onion approach, the additive is only around the surface of a fiber. We know surface additives will disappear over time or be diminished by rain or UV exposure. We take the carrot approach. When we produce fiber, the flame retardant additive spins through an extrusion die head and goes all the way through the fiber, effectively locking in the additive.
Our shade fabrics are expected to last for at least 10 years outdoors. The flame retardant properties, UV stabilizers, and other additives we use to maintain the performance and vibrant colors allow us to achieve that. We’re selective about the pigments we incorporate, as they impact colorfastness, and our fabric colors maintain good color stability over time.
Australia is the only country that mandates minimum requirements for shade fabric performance. We adapt our products to be compliant to that standard, and we use that as our basis for performance characteristics globally. The current standard calls for a minimum of 80% UV block for human protection application; we design the majority of our range to have a 90+% UV block.
Shade fabrics must have inherent strength and dimensional stability. You’re talking about some structures with large spans that have to be able to withstand wind and rain loads so the material doesn’t fail. Part of our DNA is in the raw materials we use and the way we construct fabric. Being able to have the strength and dimensional stability needed along with flame retardant performance will become increasingly important, and knowing how to evaluate fabrics appropriately will be important to the architects and designers specifying them.