Dyneema® Composite Fabric: Proudly made in the USA

A LinkedIn article previously published by Keith McDaniels, Junior Marketing Manager

The American history of DCF – and how its USA-based production is still adding value for customers and brands

1992, San Diego. The America3 (“America Cubed”) team hoist their sails, ready for the prestigious America’s Cup sailing competition. Press and other competitors have been mocking the underdog team for weeks – but this all changes when they set off, and the speed provided by their ultra-light sails becomes apparent.

When asked about the technology behind their sails after the race, the now-victorious team only say, “Well, it usually takes twelve people to carry a main sail out to a boat, but this time we did it with four.”

From Cuben Fiber to Dyneema® Composite Fabric

America3’s secret? A unique fabric developed by Heiner Meldner, a nuclear physicist and expert in aerodynamic design, and RJ Downs, a Stanford University composites engineer. The composite fabric is a ‘high-tech sandwich’ of high-performance fibers including ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), fused with two outer layers of polyester.

Sound familiar? You’d be correct. The material was originally coined ‘Cuben Fiber’ after America3, and the name would stick long after the team’s 1992 win. Eventually, though, Cuben Fiber became the Dyneema® Composite Fabric (DCF) that we know and love today.

How did this happen? Well, Heiner and RJ founded the Cuben Fiber Corporation to continue manufacturing the fabric, ultimately moving operations from the San Francisco Bay Area to Mesa, Arizona. In 2007, the Cuben Fiber sailing division was sold to North Sails. Renamed Cubic Tech Corp, it continued to push the technology’s limits in applications from airships, parachutes, and medical devices to footwear, tents, and backpacks.

Fast forward to 2015: DSM (maker of Dyneema® UHMWPE fiber) purchased Cubic Tech, and Cuben Fiber then became Dyneema® Composite Fabric. Since then, we’ve continued to innovate our product portfolio – and in 2020, bio-based Dyneema® fiber was incorporated into all Dyneema® Composite Fabrics; delivering on our commitment to improve the sustainable footprint of our products and continuing the move towards a circular, bio-based economy.

Global presence, local production

Although DSM Protective Materials is able to support our customers with global manufacturing facilities across all three regions, Dyneema® Composite Fabric remains proudly made in the USA at our production site in Mesa, Arizona.This means that our North American customers can offer brands and consumers an American-made product. With high consumer demand for transparency on products’ sustainability and origins, and buyers eager to support USA-based manufacturing, this is greatly appreciated. What’s more, for companies with North American manufacturing, sourcing fabrics locally can be a solution to volatile supply chains, logistics costs, and transport times.

Keeping up with growing demand

Since 2015, we’ve tripled our Dyneema® Composite Fabric production output, and this year we expanded capacity even further to meet growing demand.

So, what’s next for Dyneema® Composite Fabrics? In short, we’re looking forward to continuing to grow along with our customers! Dyneema® Composite Fabrics have come a long way since America3 won the America’s Cup, and we hope it’ll keep enabling winning solutions for many years to come.

Are you interested in learning more about how we can help you deliver high-performance solutions with Dyneema® Composite Fabrics? If so, please contact me directly.

Keith McDaniels
Junior Marketing Manager
Keith.McDaniels@dsm.com

Published on

30 June 2022

Tags

  • Ropes, Lines, Slings and Chains

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