Specialty Fabrics Review March 2020 - 31

ideas, made from clay, to computergenerated 3D models. Painting by
hand also was replaced by digital printing,
further improving quality.
TECHNOLOGY MEETS DEMAND
Stand-up paddle boarding was one of
the fastest growing sports in the U.S. in
the last decade, thanks in part to new
inflatable technology. While surfers were
known to use their boards while standing
up as far back as the 1940s, actual stand-up
paddle boards (SUPs) were not widely
manufactured until the early 2000s.
The first SUPs, made from foam covered
in fiberglass, were labor-intensive to
manufacture and therefore expensive
for consumers.
Sea Eagle Boats Inc., Port Jefferson,
N.Y., has designed inflatable boats
since 1968, but according to partner
John Hoge, the technology to make

inflatable SUP production practical
is a recent development.
The existence of inflatable paddle
boards is due to advancements in dropstitch technology, Hoge says. Inflatable
SUPs are made from an airtight fabric
coating on the top and bottom, and
between those layers of fiber mesh is
a series of thousands of polyester
threads connecting the layers.
"Previously, an inflatable structure
had to be some kind of tube or ball to
get the right air pressure," Hoge says.
"With today's drop-stitch technology,
you can make something flat, like a
paddle board, and get air pressure at
15 PSI, so it's extremely rigid. With
traditional inflatables, you can only get
4 PSI or maybe 5 PSI at the highest."
As inflatable SUPs began hitting the
market, less expensive alternatives to the
rigid fiberglass SUPs began appearing

While Demaree Inflatable Boats
Inc., Friendsville, Md., is known
for its watercraft, the capabilities
required to fabricate inflatables
can be applied to diverse markets.
For example, Demaree made the
white inflatable pontoons deployed
here for the U.S. Army Corp of
Engineers. Photo: Mimi Demaree.

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Specialty Fabrics Review March 2020

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