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From the Stenter to the Showroom

Throughout the past 30 years, the UK’s manufacturing sector has shrunk by two thirds; the greatest de-industrialisation of any major nation.* Despite this outlook, the creative sector seems to be challenging this norm with a boom in the textile industry.

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Manufacturing plays such a prominent role in the UK economy as well as creating a deep satisfaction within the work force. 

At Eclipse we are proud to weave and manufacture over 80% of our fabric here in the UK. By doing so, not only are we reducing our carbon footprint making those products more environmentally friendly, but we also hold greater control over the quality side of the product.

Fabric is the focal point of any blind, and what consumers first consider when making their choice. But how is the fabric produced?  

A key part of our finished fabric is the coating; this stabilises and stiffens the fabric, giving it colour or a special coating dependant on the specification. This can be a painstaking process for our skilled technicians to develop “a recipe”; all the ingredients and measurements have to be perfect.

There are a multitude of different types of coatings, and as consumer needs adapt so too do the coating requirements. For example, a special coating has to be applied to make the blind fabric fire retardant, antimicrobial or have an advanced solar control coating. 

Once a “recipe” has been created, it is then down to the batch developers to make this recipe come to life on a commercial scale. Each bulk of coating is placed in casks and stored ready for the coating stenter teams to use.

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Now it’s time for the stenter team to work their magic! Firstly, the correct coating is selected and lead fabric is attached to the start and end of the roll to prevent damage to the fabric.

Today Palette Sky is on the production schedule. Plain white fabric runs through the stenter with sky coloured coating poured and evenly spread onto it. The stenter is incredibly hot and the mixture of coating polymer and heat hardens the fabric. Most coloured fabrics go through the machine twice, with blackout going through several times to create those important blackout properties.   

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Thinner or patterned materials are treated differently as these have to be saturated in the middle instead of coated. This coating is clear and the fabric is only required to go through the stenter once to achieve the desired outcome. 

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Finally, the fabric is then sent to quality control to make sure it is perfect, lines are straight and the colour continuity is consistent. The large batch of fabric is cut down into manageable sized rolls for our customers to use. Once this has been completed, roller fabric goes into stock to be available by the roll or sold in cut lengths. Vertical fabric goes to the slitting machines, to be made into 127mm or 89mm rolls. Pleated fabric goes to the pleated area to be made into either 16mm or 20mm pleats, and then into stock.

And at last the fabric is now ready for your order, for the next stage of the journey to becoming a beautiful blind.

*Why doesn’t Britain make things anymore? The Guardian (2011) https://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/nov/16/why-britain-doesnt-make-things-manufacturing

 

Written by Eclipse at 00:00

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