Engineering Value: Selecting the Right Fabric for Proper Shading


Creating a perfect solution is often a team effort. Such is the case when it comes to shading solutions and partnership between Draper® and Phifer, a third-generation, family-owned-and-operated textile weaver and manufacturer based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Jeff Miller, Director of Architectural Shading Solutions at Draper, and Bill Strickland, National Market Manager for Sun Control Products at Phifer Incorporated, explained how this relationship generates winning products and solutions.

Phifer is the world’s largest weaver of insect screening, shipping to over 100 countries. But they also have an expanded line of performance fabrics to suit many different textile markets, including sun-control products. Strickland has worked with Phifer and these fabrics for 33 years. And the Draper and Phifer relationship goes back even longer.

Miller said Draper and Phifer have a true partnership, consisting of idea, feedback and best practice sharing. The relationship even includes product development.

The textile industry in North America is not the stronghold it once was, with most textile operations long since moved overseas. However, Phifer is still going strong as a U.S. manufacturer.

“Our survival, and not just surviving, but thriving, has been the focus of looking at everything we do,” Strickland said.

Phifer adheres to utilizing lean manufacturing ideas, principles and methodologies to evaluate efficiencies and deploy innovations to keep them going.

Aesthetics always factor into a customer’s shading decision, but there are many more considerations when choosing the right solar shading solution. Strickland said it is most important to determine the overall goal or problem to solve, then decide which fabric to use.

Also, a consideration that many might not think of when it comes to shading selection is acoustics. “How does this fabric help in my goals in reducing sound noise within an office space?,” Strickland said. “So, now, our fabrics are tested and evaluated for their acoustical benefit.”

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