Developing and manufacturing awning fabrics is highly complex. Olivier Ronner, CEO of Sattler Schweiz, gives an insight into the process in the following interview.
Because awning fabric is specifically used outdoors, it has to fulfil some very high requirements. Innovative materials and manufacturing techniques produce modern awning fabrics that are really easy to clean and look great, too. And they have been much more than just a sun shade for quite some time now. For example, they provide reliable protection against harmful UV rays, do not discolour and are tear-resistant. In a nutshell, when we talk about awning fabrics nowadays, we are referring to high-tech textiles.
How is awning fabric made?
There are several steps involved in making awning fabric.
A yarn is made from the raw material acrylic, and every single fibre is dyed during this process. The high-quality acrylic is 100% UV-resistant and does not fade.
The yarn is put onto the so-called warping creel in a specific order, depending on the design (fabric design). From the warping creel, the yarns are then wound on the warp beam (a roller) from which they are drawn into the loom.
In the weaving machine, the warp threads are either pulled through the heald shafts by hand or automatically. The threaded warp is then fed into the loom and passes over to the take up roll where the finished woven fabric is rolled up.
We wash out the yarn’s finish before treating it with the special TEXgard coating that acts as a protection shield on the fabric keeping out dirt. The fabric is then hung out to dry.
The edges are cut for a clean finish and the double web is cut into two sheets and rolled up. A protective end cap is carefully secured onto each roll, which is then placed in sealed and waterproof packaging ready to be despatched to the awning manufacturer.
Following the instructions on the order, our assemblers cut the fabric to length and trim it to the desired width. Then the sheets just have to be sewn together and fitted with keder rails. The valance must also be cut to size and sewn on. Finally, all the parts of the awning are carefully packaged up.
Quality is a top priority at Sattler. How do you ensure this?
By checking the quality several times along the entire the production process. The QA starts as soon as the yarn is delivered. It goes through various parameter checks once it arrives in the lab. The quality is also checked repeatedly during the weaving stage and one more time for defects before the woven greige fabric is treated. In addition to this, random spot checks are also carried out in the lab before the textile enters the final inspection where it is checked against the assessment catalogue and marked if it fails.
Why are the individual qualities priced differently?
Each product has different properties depending on the type of yarn used. For example, we use staple fibre yarn for our standard fabrics, but multifilament yarn for our Lumera fabrics with CBA (Clean Brilliant Acrylic). As a result, the Lumera fabrics offer outstanding brilliant colours and greater dirt repellency. We also make awning fabrics that are waterproof, flame retardant or even very reflective.
Yes, I actually have two favourites in our collection: One is the resilient “Dessin 320 678”; thanks to its retro design style, it is still going strong after every collection change, which is what makes it so special. And the other, which is almost the complete opposite, includes all the designs from Sattler’s Lumera-Landscape line as they can be used pretty much everywhere because of their monochrome and modern design style.