Specialty Fabrics Review May 2021 - 22

[ PERSPECTIVE ]

Big, weird parts
As much as Deardorff took note of the
product lines at his previous jobs, he
perhaps more closely observed shop
operations and setup-and thought
a lot about how to organize a facility
for maximum efficiency. When SLO
outgrew the garage in 2007 (and his
college buddy/partner fell in love and
moved to Los Angeles), Deardorff
brought his experiences and ideas
together in the company's first warehouse and workshop space, building
it out according to his specifications.
This included digging out the concrete
floors so the sewing machines could

PROJECT SNAPSHOT

Technical wonders
While a sail might seem like a straightforward piece
of sewing, it's actually more technical than people
realize, according to Deardorff. " Sails are complex
3D shapes that can have corner loads measured in
tons. They have to perform well from an aerodynamic,
durability and aesthetic perspective, all while keeping
price in mind. "
For a typical project, the design process involves
basic rigging measurements, 3D shaping and
computational fluid dynamics analysis (how water
flows over a surface) to make sure the shaping
is correct. For larger racing sails, SLO also uses
software to perform an aeroelastic analysis to load
the sail with wind and analyze the flying shape along
with drive and drag curves and other parameters.
SLO often tests three to five different designs before
choosing the best option and cutting the sail.
Deardorff is quick to point out that as important
as computers are to modern sailmaking, they haven't
replaced the human touch. " Some sails involve
extensive handwork, creating a connection to ancient
sailmakers that would have sewn their own sails
thousands of years ago. The wind will continue to
power us for thousands of years to come. "

22 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / May 2021

be recessed and raised or lowered
depending on the size of a project the
company might be working on.
" We're really good with big, weird
parts, " he says, referencing one defense
subcontract job that was 70 feet by 70
feet and weighed 250 pounds. Over the
past 15 years, SLO has continued to
refine its processes and equipment, and
Deardorff cites a few purchases that
have made a significant impact: sewing
machines with needle positioning,
a Carlson automated cutter that he
found on eBay for $4,000, and the
subsequent purchase of an Autometrix
laser cutter. In addition, the company



Specialty Fabrics Review May 2021

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