Category Archive: Bally Ribbon News
What is limiting the widespread adoption of smart textiles?
For over two decades, the potential for smart textiles has excited the imagination — from wearables that integrate electronics to monitor health and fitness as well as diagnose medical problems, to embedded stress and strain sensors that measure data and monitor changes, to predict potential catastrophic failure in the oil and gas industry, to antibacterial and antiviral yarns and finishes that reduce COVID-19 transmission in medical and public transportation applications.
The demand exists, and the technology is feasible, and the manufacturing processes are maturing, and yet the commercial potential has yet to be realized. Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) is playing a leading role in the industry in understanding the obstacles and implementing strategic initiatives to mitigate them.
A fundamental problem is that it is often not economically viable for individual applications to bear the financial burden of developing and refining fundamental technological advancements. BRM addresses this challenge in a number of ways.
When possible, we use well-established existing technologies and manufacturing methods, as well as the experience we have acquired over the years, in order to shorten the R&D cycle. In addition, BRM has made significant investments in the advancement of generic, horizontal product capabilities and manufacturing methods that can be utilized by diverse vertical applications, effectively sharing the development costs and further shortening the R&D cycle.
We understand the ancillary requirements to make these high-leverage strategies successful. Before embarking on projects, BRM believes that it is critically important to establish clear Intellectual Property agreements to protect all parties. We also understand that industry standardization is necessary to allow our partners to take full advantage of existing and evolving technologies, and we continue to play a leading role in the efforts to institute common industry terminology, metrics, and standards in areas such as verifying and validating conductive element properties, assessing and measuring washability, and measuring durability and wear.
By Sarah Islam, Bally Ribbon Mills
Bally Ribbon Mills is excited to share we’ll be participating at the IFAI Virtual Expo next month, November 2nd-11th! Please join us to support the technical textile industry!
Since Covid-19, we are all sitting at the edge of our seats and wondering how things are going to return to normal. Well…the new normal is upon us. BRM is continually working with partners and customers to develop new fabrics for new and existing applications as well as working on genesis stage innovations. We look forward to sharing these new innovations with you at IFAI’s Virtual Expo this year.
BRM invites you to connect with us through our Virtual Booth via text chat and video conferencing. We are offering a VIP Code: EX20VIP100 for FREE registration for our visitors: https://ifaiexpo.com/register/.
We are also setting appointments with interested people that want to learn more or discuss specific projects. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment, please contact: (insert email and/or phone).
During IFAI, BRM will be highlighting:
» What’s new at BRM
» New Tapes, Webbing, Specialty Textiles
» Composite Fabrics – beyond carbon, combinations of technical fibers
» BRM Capabilities
» Specialty Fibers and Properties
Also, please follow Bally Ribbon Mills on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, for more information about our fabrics, applications and innovations!
The BRM team looks forward to meeting you at the IFAI Virtual Expo!
By Sarah Islam, Bally Ribbon Mills
Each month Bally Ribbon Mills is being written about in the top industry publications. Here are a few highlights of the great press coverage BRM has recently received:
Textile World recently featured the article “Domestic Supplies Of Polyester Woven Webbings Takes On New Urgency In The Post-COVID Era” by Ted Fetterman.
The polyester woven webbing market experienced serious short-term disruption from the closing of the last United States manufacturing plants that could supply yarn complying with the Berry Amendment. After some new domestic yarn manufacturers entered the market, some manufacturers, including Bally Ribbon Mills, stepped up to produce 100 percent Berry-compliant polyester webbing for critical safety applications. Positive engineering and manufacturing changes made to adapt to the COVID-19 emergency hold great promise in streamlining and improving future polyester webbing projects. Read the full article here.
See more great press coverage for Bally Ribbon Mill’s in Specialty Fabrics Review, on our fully Berry-compliant polyester webbing for seat belts, retractors and tie-down applications. The webbing meets Mil/PIA-W-25361 and commercial A-A-55242A specifications and is available in low minimum runs—as low as 1,000 yards per color—and in customized designs to meet performance properties. Read more here.
Aviation Magazine highlighted that Bally Ribbon Mills is supplying a range of narrow woven tapes and elastics urgently needed during the COVID-19 Emergency. The tapes and elastics are used by manufacturers of facemasks, face shields, gowns, other personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical patient soft goods, as well as patient slings, wheelchair harnesses, braces, and respiratory equipment. Read more here.
By Sarah Islam, Bally Ribbon Mills
Bally Ribbon Mills Polyester Webbing Ideal for DOD and U.S. Military Applications
At Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM), innovation and a desire to take on advanced design challenges are just two key factors that allow team members to keep the company ahead of the field in developing and improving technology.
In line with these tenets, BRM has recently expanded its capabilities for producing superior polyester webbing that is fully compliant with the Berry Amendment. This standard requires the Department of Defense to give preference to domestically produced fabrics and clothing.
Wide range of applications
BRM polyester webbing is ideal for use by DOD contractors manufacturing aircraft seat belts, retractors, restraining harnesses, tie-downs and other end use products.
This Berry-compliant webbing is also a good choice for civilian agencies involved in a wide range of U.S. military procurement activities. BRM’s polyester webbing is in accordance with Mil/PIA-W-25361 and commercial A-A-55242A specifications, as well as application specific requirements that have varied elongation specs. Additionally, all polyester webbing used in seat belts is certified to SAE AS 8043 specification.
BRM can work with your engineering team to provide webbing that meets all requirements, including elongation.
Team members customize weave designs to modify performance properties, offering expert capabilities for custom options and configurations to optimize designs. BRM’s polyester webbing is available in special colors and superior color fastness is guaranteed.
Additionally, BRM’s laboratories provide color matching using advanced spectrophotometer instrumentation to validate color accuracy. Webbing is available in low minimum runs – as low as 1000 yards per color – and in a wide range of widths, from 1-inch to 6-inch. Wider widths are available for specialty applications.
By Sarah Islam, Bally Ribbon Mills
BRM Reflects on Recreational, Safety and Medical Uses of Fabrics on National Textiles Day
Engineered woven webbing, tapes, and specialty materials, used in everyday life
In honor of National Textiles Day, Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM) is celebrating not only textiles and their myriad uses, but the front-line workers in various industries who are using these fabrics to save lives.
Held on May 3, National Textiles Day recognizes all the ways textiles improve lives. Since 1923, Bally Ribbon Mills has established itself as an industry leader in the design, development, and manufacture of highly specialized engineered woven fabrics, creating
products for aerospace, defense, medical, safety, automotive, commercial, and industrial applications. From recreational to essential uses, textiles play a role in our everyday lives.
Recreational and commercial use
As a pioneer of 3-D weaving technology, BRM creates tapes, webbing and other specialty fabrics from virtually any yarn – including nylon, polyester, aramid, graphite, glass, quartz, ceramic, and silicon carbide. Other specialty fabrics, like Kevlar®, Nomex®, Spectra® are used to create binding tape, chin straps, harnesses, packs, climbing webs, pet leashes, and parachute and balloon setups, which are available in light-weight binding to medium and heavy webbing.
Additionally, with much of today’s technology literally woven into the clothes or accessories we wear every day, designers at BRM are using its E-WEBBINGS® e-textile platform for a variety of applications. These woven narrow-fabrics are conductive, enabling the electronic transmission of data, sensations (light, noise, vibrations, heat), and power that can be stored or used to actuate/transform objects. Their unique conductive fibers can be woven in conjunction with other fibers and can be used in embedded sensors in both wearable and integral technology, including the Internet of Things
For example, a large fabric e-textile square produced by Bally Ribbon Mills can be placed into a custom application with small on-board battery and computer systems designed to sense environmental hazards, collect temperature and climate date, log distance and speed, and more. Consumer markets for clothing, outdoors equipment, and safety products also continuously turn to advanced textiles to gain a cutting-edge advantage.
Essential medical and safety fabrics
E-WEBBINGS® has also proven to be an essential fabric in the medical and safety fields, including fire, law enforcement, industrial, military, and commercial fall protection personal protective equipment (PPE).
Made from Nylon, Nomex®, Kevlar®, Vectran®, PBI®, Nextel®, and other specialty fibers, BRM’s safety webbing and tapes meet the demands of applications requiring high temperature, fully engineered safety solutions. They can be used for shoulder straps, harness webbing, and chin straps, as well as helmet suspension, binding tapes, lap belts, and shock absorbing webbing.
Responding to the global health crisis
In response to the current COVID-19 emergency, BRM is manufacturing urgently needed narrow woven structural tapes and elastics for use in a range of medical items. These include manufacturers of facemasks, face shields, gowns, other PPE, and medical patient soft goods, as well as patient slings, wheelchair harnesses, braces, and respiratory equipment.
BRM’s safety webbing and tapes are ideal for applications requiring high tenacity, abrasion resistance and flame and heat resistance. They are also a good choice for controlled elongation applications as well as those requiring chemical resistance in specific environments, as they offer conductivity, dimensional stability and strength, and can help to reduce weight and size. The materials meet United States (NFPA) requirements for fire fighters’ protective clothing and equipment.
This year, these specialty fabrics are more important than ever as our medical and safety professionals tirelessly work to assist those diagnosed with coronavirus. On National Textiles Day, we’re honored to be a part of the effort to equip our front-line works with the best fabrics available to ensure they can protect themselves and continue to save lives.
By Sarah Islam, Bally Ribbon Mills
Bally Ribbon Mills Supplying Range of Narrow Woven Tapes and Elastics Urgently Needed During COVID-19 Emergency
Ideal for facemasks, face shields, gowns, and other medical soft goods and equipment
Bally Ribbon Mills (BRM), an industry leader in the design, development, and manufacture of highly specialized engineered woven fabrics, announces it is manufacturing urgently needed narrow woven structural tapes and elastics for use in a range of medical items required for the current COVID-19 emergency. The tapes and elastics are used by manufacturers of facemasks, face shields, gowns, other personal protective equipment (PPE), and medical patient soft goods, as well as patient slings, wheelchair harnesses, braces, and respiratory equipment.
BRM offers ¼- to ½-inch woven tapes and webbing in natural polyester and elastic. Latex free options are available, as well as material with 100 percent elastic stretch. Also available are ¼-inch to ¾-inch nylon grosgrain binding tapes used in medical tie applications and special designs where Velcro is utilized for closure.
BRM manufactures medical items in a certified clean room to ensure cleanliness and quality and maintains the rigorous ISO 13485:2016 certification for the design and manufacture of medical devices. Additionally, medical textiles engineers, and prototype weavers, and braiders at BRM work on a confidential basis to protect the intellectual property of customers.
Bally Ribbon Mill’s Biomedical Textile Structures Technology
Since the mid-1960s, Bally Ribbon Mills has woven straight, tapered, flared, and bifurcated biomedical textiles, always meeting the stringent standards of regulation and market demand. All BRM woven biomedical textile structures possess the following characteristics:
• Controlled permeability/porosity
• Dimensional stability
• Low elongation (unlike knitted products)
• High tensile strength in both directions
• High burst strength
• High suture retention strength
• High abrasion and friction resistance
The FDA classifies medical devices as Class I, Class II, and Class III by the risks to the patient and / or the user and the intended use of the device. Those with high risk, classified as Class III, usually sustain or support life, are implanted, or present a potential unreasonable risk of illness or injury. Examples are implantable pace makers, stents, and vascular grafts. Many of these biomedical textile structures’ characteristics are prerequisites for use in implanted applications. Without high abrasion and friction resistance, for example, wear from internal movement could lead to malfunction and failure. Other characteristics deliver particular benefits to particular uses, such as high burst strength for vascular implants.
Of course, medical technology has evolved substantially since BRM’s first graft was woven. Today, BRM offers a range of constructions and fibers to deliver a wide range of characteristics to meet consumer demands.
Loom and Weaving Technology
BRM’s biomedical textile structures are made by weaving. Although BRM operates many different types of looms, all medical products are produced with shuttle looms. These looms use a boat-shaped device to carry filling (horizontal) yarns across the vertical yarns. This technique enables BRM to create perfect tubes, bifurcate tubes, tapered or flared tubes, and biomedical structures of special shapes.
Advancements in shuttle loom technology include the incorporation of electronic components and jacquard capabilities (a system of weaving that utilizes a highly versatile pattern mechanism to permit the production of large, intricate designs and shapes). Recently, BRM has updated its biomedical weaving capabilities with an automated shuttle loom with multiple shuttles. With this capacity BRM experts can make bifurcate grafts without any hole at the crotch and use more than one filling if needed in the same graft. BRM’s design teams have the necessary backgrounds and experience to skillfully design, engineer, and develop biomedical structures as per customer needs and performance criteria.
Yarn and Material Technologies
Absorbability is key for some biomedical structure applications, but for others non-absorbability is just as critical. Fiber material is the primary factor determining this and other capabilities.
BRM has the experience to manufacture biomedical structures with monofilament, multifilaments, hybrid fiber (that include more than one type of fiber), and metallic wire designs.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, heavier denier polyester such as 70 denier was the industry standard. Now, many customers require the use of finer denier polyester because it is comparatively easy to deploy grafts made of fine denier fibers by catheterization. BRM has the experience, expertise, and equipment to weave the finest fibers, including 10 denier polyester.
The BRM Clean Room
All Class III medical devices must be manufactured in a tightly-controlled clean room environment due to risks associated with such devices. At BRM, all medical products are manufactured in a Class 8 certified clean room, including all aspects of weaving from making a beam and making a quill. BRM’s quality control professionals also conduct in-process and final inspections inside the clean room. With this manufacturing environment and our rigorous quality control processes, BRM is ISO 13485 certified for the design and manufacture of textile components for medical devices.
Utilizing 3-D woven composite structures in place of traditional metal or 2-D laminated composites can provide cost savings through both the manufacturing process and a product’s operational lifetime. In this blog, we’ll answer some basic questions about the emerging technology – and why it’s useful for a wide variety of applications
What allows 3-D weaving to produce strong, complex, single-piece structures?
Most fabrics are woven in two dimensions – the X axis (length) and the Y axis (width) – but 3-D woven fabrics include weaving through the thickness, or the Z axis. By contrast, 2-D composites include a number of different layers of materials artificially bonded together; these layers can come apart from each other, or delaminate. 3-D weaving produces near-net-shape composite structures that are fully interconnected by their yarn, ensuring they retain strength and reliability.
What are some of the benefits of 3-D woven composites?
In addition to the elimination of delamination, the technology’s key benefits include weight reduction, reduced crack risk, lower production time, and cost reduction.
Lightweight. 3-D woven composites are dramatically lighter than metal structures. This is particularly relevant to the aerospace industry. Every pound of weight saved from an aircraft is estimated to save the aircraft’s operator roughly $1 million in operating expenses, primarily fuel, over that aircraft’s lifetime. Smart utilization of 3-D woven composite structures in aircraft design can reduce the weight of an aircraft by up to 30 percent, resulting in considerable operational cost savings.
Low crack risk. Due to curvature limitations in the layers, many 2-D shapes have considerable gaps in joints and intersections. These spaces and pockets are often filled with resin, which can crack. 3-D woven composites, even in complex shapes, have no empty pockets, as their structural integrity extends along all three axes. Crack rates are therefore far lower.
Quick production. 2-D composite production entails a long plying process. By contrast, 3-D weaving of composite structures is simpler, faster, and more cost efficient. The difference in a 3-D loom is that weft and warp yarns are not only woven together on one plane, but one plane is woven together with the next. Aside from designing a 3-D weave, which requires highly skilled design engineers, the 3-D weaving process is fully automated, drastically reducing manufacturing time.
Low cost. Indirect cost savings result from operational cost savings, for example reduced fuel. Plus, 3-D woven composites are stronger, more resilient, and less prone to breakage than 2-D laminated composites, so they can be replaced much less often, reducing replacement and maintenance costs.
What are some uses for 3-D woven structures?
3-D woven composites including orthogonal panels, thermal protection systems, near-net-shape, and complex net shape preforms are used for the aerospace, automotive, construction, military, and safety industries. For example, carbon fiber composites replace traditional titanium components in large aircraft engines to reduce weight, as these composite components are significantly lighter than comparable components in metal.
3-D weaving has been particularly successful in advancing aviation heat shield technology. BRM has woven quartz compression pads for NASA’s Orion capsule in order to ensure structural strength during launch and heat resistance during re-entry. NASA’s Heatshield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology (HEEET) program is developing a carbon thermal protection system (TPS) for extreme entries, intended to be capable of surviving the challenging environments of Saturn or Venus.
By Mark Harries
For more information about 3-D woven composites, and how they could improve your design, contact BRM today.
Bally Ribbon Mills has effectively embraced the Six Sigma methodology for improved productivity, efficiency and cost savings which allows us to better serve the needs of our customers
The central principle of Six Sigma is that data can be used to drive manufacturing to achieve at least six standard deviations between the mean and the nearest specification limit; in other words, to produce no more than 3.4 defects outside of customer specifications in each one million products.
Given the highly critical nature of BRM’s products, we deliver quality to meet industry standards including ISO 9001, AS 9100, and ISO 13485, plus MIL-I-45208 and MIL-Q-9858 for military products. We began experimenting with Six Sigma (6∑) by sending one employee for training. As a direct result, that individual worked on a project that saw a 77% decrease in waste in the production of a single item, and BRM chose to implement the methodology throughout our manufacturing.
After an additional two employees were trained as Six Sigma Black Belts, the company saw a 30% reduction in overall waste during the first two years of the program. We then decided to expand the program with training for additional team members, allowing us to distribute trained individuals across functional areas and industry focuses, so that the quality assurance (QA) program has both a broader impact across the company and a more targeted impact within individual sectors. Currently, BRM is training and adding more certified persons each year to the program.
The greatest impact of implementing 6∑ methodology has been the improvements in data collection and analysis. Using 6∑ statistical tools and methodology, our well-trained QA team can use the same data that most manufacturing facilities already collect and get to a better confidence level, lower material use, less waste, lower lead times, and reduced overproduction compared with other QA methodologies. Now, the QA teams work alongside the design and manufacturing teams to design new machine setups and more precise production from the very beginning. One project has reduced rejections by 80%, and another reduced the internal rejection rate by 92%.
The 6∑ methodology had provided both BRM and our customers with better tools to work together while using the same language for goals and the process of achieving them. Customers are now able to discuss product developments via electronic communications, as our experts work on product development and quality management.
Additionally, the 6∑ QA efforts have reduced cost for customers due to greater manufacturing efficiency and greater confidence in tolerances such as thickness, weight, and tensile strength. 6∑ methodology has also enabled some BRM customers to achieve tighter tolerances for materials and design. BRM customers can have greater confidence in the products they receive from initial production runs, and can thus design their final products to be closer to their ultimate goals.
To learn more about BRM’s quality assurance and how it can benefit your product, contact us.
“I think some of the NASA approach and mindset started to rub off on us, and we started to push what we could do even further into other projects.”
Bally Ribbon Mills’ Mark Harries recently spoke at NASA’s Ames Research Center in celebration of the Heatshield for Extreme Entry Environment Technology team of NASA and BRM scientists and their exceptional accomplishments over the last ten years. His remarks offer a helpful lens for understanding BRM’s dedication to innovation:
“The first meeting I ever attended with [NASA Ames Research Center engineer] Raj Venkatapathy and the Ames group was in 2010. I remember this meeting well, and tried to think about why this meeting stood out in my mind—I had been to many customer visits and sales calls—and I finally figured out what made this one so special. It was the extraordinary level of excitement and energy surrounding the whole meeting. From beginning to end, our engineers and the NASA engineers exchanged ideas. We realized, even at that early stage, that we had both found a great partner. The Ames group was excited because of our capabilities and past experience with complex highly technical weaving, and we were excited to embark on developing new technologies and ideas that had never been developed before, including finished parts, weaving techniques, and a new loom.
That first meeting went well, and honestly, the meetings kept going well. Here we are almost ten years later celebrating the HEEET program. And what an exciting 10 years it has been. We’ve learned a great deal about woven thermal protection systems (TPS) since the start.
There has been a lot of learning. We had made panels and 3D weaves before, and I think that’s what generated the initial interest in our company, but what the Ames group was asking for with the HEEET program went above and beyond anything else in our experience to that time.
The scale of everything was bigger than anything we had attempted up until that point. The loom was bigger. The amount of yarn and number of ends (or yarn per inch of material) was incredible. For example, the first iteration had a total of 25,000 ends to weave and interconnect and keep consistent tensions with. So, the loom needed to be specially designed to handle the complex and dense material. The loom is one of a kind in the world. And because science doesn’t stop at just good enough… we got even more complex. On the most current revision of HEEET, we weave 36,000 ends. It has two main parts, one for recession and the other for insulation and protection. On both sides, NASA and the Bally Ribbon Mills teams tackled each hurdle and ultimately were successful.
There were ups and downs and some big challenges. And we are so happy that we tackled those problems. After each issue, whether related to yarn, machinery and equipment, or programming, we learned and catalogued and anticipated the next course of action. I think some of the NASA approach and mindset started to rub off on us, and we started to push what we could do even further into other projects. For me, as a small business owner, this is the most valuable result of our partnership with NASA. We pushed ourselves. We made things that we would have never been able to otherwise and as a result of that partnership, we are seeing great returns on that investment, because these products aren’t just useful for one application. There are commercial and government entities buying products as a direct result of our work and the advancement of our capabilities.
Our history with NASA is a long one. We’ve made parts for many missions including webbing for the deceleration systems on the mars rovers. When [Former astronaut and NASA Administrator] Charlie Bolden was at BRM in 2015, he gave us a terrific tag line: “the path to Mars goes through Bally, Pennsylvania.” And with HEEET, we want it to come back again too with the Mars Sample Return Mission!”
For more information about BRM’s work on the NASA HEEET Program, click here.