The changes in the sailmaking industry have been nothing short of astounding since the invention and implementation of molded sail technology in the early 1990s. Before that time, although fibers and fabrics had developed to a point where laminated sails in particular were light, strong, and held their shape extremely well, the process of orienting panels around a load catenary was still somewhat unwieldy. The reason for this was that in order to take advantage of the low-stretch properties of today’s exotic yarns, the yarns had to be continuous and precisely follow the load lines in the sail. When these ... Read More
While cross-cut sails were built from woven Dacron, laminated fabrics allowed sailmakers to build both cross-cut and radial sails depending on how the fabric was engineered. When the fabrics were laminated the scrims were laid so that the strength in the fabric could run in the warp direction, the fill direction or both. Fill-oriented laminates were still used to build cross-cut sails, while warp-oriented laminates were used to build radial sails, i.e., sails in which the panels were not just stacked up parallel to the foot. Sailmakers had been building tri-radial spinnakers for some time so the concept of orienting ... Read More
Different Layouts for Different Fabrics
There are two equally important aspects to sail design: aerodynamic shape and engineering. Aerodynamic shape refers to the curved foil that the sail will present when it is flying under certain conditions. Engineering refers to the various fabrics and fibers that will be used in building this foil and the precise manner in which they will be put together. In fact, these two aspects of sail design go hand in hand since a perfect shape is useless if it distorts when a load comes on the sail. Similarly, an over-engineered sail is equally useless if ... Read More
Laminated fabrics have come to play an increasingly larger part in the sailmaking industry and their continued growth is assured. There are a number of reasons for this:
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- Lamination is the most effective way of combining materials with different characteristics to maximize the advantages of each.
- Laminates allow individual fibers to be placed in straight uninterrupted paths. This is the most effective way of getting the most from the fibers and the most efficient way of using a fiber.
- When films like Mylar or PEN are introduced, the result is an effective way of minimizing off-threadline stretch.
- As laminates have
While woven fabrics have stood the test of time, sailmakers are continually looking for new ways to build sails, and in particular for ways to graduate the weight of fabric throughout the sail since the different parts of a sail experience markedly different loads. For example, there is little need to have heavy fabric along the luff or in the body of the sail since these areas are subjected to very little loading. The leech, on the other hand, is an area in which a sail designer needs to be sure to place a fabric with both high modulus ... Read More
Note: This blog is a continuation of All About Woven Fabrics which you can read here
Woven cross-cut sails on this Leopard catamaran
To further emphasize why fabric manufacturing is a complex process, it’s important to realize that in addition to creating a material that does not stretch, does not distort under load, is easy to handle, and is rugged enough to withstand gale-force winds as well as fly in light zephyrs, fabric makers need to consider a number of other points, some of which aren’t quite so obvious as the factors discussed thus far, but which can be ... Read More