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Quality Fabric Of The Month

Seeing The Light

GORE™ TENARA® Architectural Fabrics offer new possibilities for both retractable and permanent structures.

Janet Bealer Rodie, Assistant Editor

E lkton, Md.-based W.L. Gore & Associates Inc. made the rounds of this year's major technical textile shows to introduce its newest line of architectural membranes. GORE™ TENARA® Architectural Fabrics, woven from expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE) yarn and coated on both sides with a flexible fluoropolymer, are waterproof and provide up to 40-percent light transmission - benefits not available from Gore's first TENARA® PTFE fabrics, introduced in 1991 for sunscreens and similar uses. Combining attributes of PTFE-coated fiberglass membranes used in large, permanent installations and polyvinyl chloride (PVC)-coated polyester (PES) membranes used in retractable and deployable structures, Gore Tenara is suitable for both types of applications and is competitive price-wise with these other products.

"Gore saw a need in the marketplace for an architectural fabric that offers the longevity of a PTFE/glass fabric and the flexibility of a PES/PVC fabric," said Tom Kelmartin, PTFE fiber technology leader at Gore. The company offers a full 15-year warranty on the fabric - longer and more comprehensive than that offered on PES/PVC fabrics - and Kelmartin said he expects Gore Tenara's durability to match that of PTFE/glass fabrics, which are known to last 25 years and longer.

Sopers Engineered Fabric Solutions, Canada, used GORE™ TENARA® 40-percent light-transmissive fabric in this umbrella to provide shelter and shade, while allowing the area underneath to remain bright.

Gore Tenara offers PTFE’s inherent benefits, including excellent ultraviolet (UV), chemical, pollution, stain and flame resistance; and extreme temperature tolerance. The ePTFE yarn in the base fabric is 50-percent stronger than Gore’s standard PTFE yarn. Because the yarn can shift within the composite and distribute the tearing load, tear strength is two to four times greater than that of PES/PVC or PTFE/glass fabrics — a key safety factor in tensioned structures, Kelmartin said.

Crease resistance is important in awnings, umbrellas and tents, which are subject to folding and unfolding, or must be stored compactly when not in use. Gore Tenara, with its flexible coating, has survived more than 50,000 flex cycles without leakage in testing, whereas coatings or films used on PES/PVC fabrics may eventually crack or delaminate, Kelmartin said.

It also is easier to handle during installation than PTFE/glass fabric, whose glass base fibers or coating could be damaged by inadvertent creasing. Gore Tenara is well-suited to permanent applications where aesthetic considerations such as color or architectural accents are important, according to Cindy Lubin, business development, fibers group. Seams can be heat-welded to ensure waterproofness, or sewn using ePTFE thread when that need is not a factor.

Gore Tenara is available in two weights, and in white or custom colors. White fabrics offer 20- to 40-percent light transmission, compared with up to 13 percent with PES/PVC fabrics and up to 25 percent with PTFE/glass fabrics.

Because Gore Tenara is 100-percent fluoropolymer, it can be recycled at the end of its useful life. Gore will accept uncontaminated fabric scrap and used fabric to reprocess for other uses.

For more information about GORE™ TENARA® Architectural Fabrics, contact Cindy Lubin (412) 749-9010, or visit www.gore.com/tenara.

November 2003