BGF Rolls Out New Metallized Fabric for Luggage
Demand for Lightweight Luggage Has Manufacturers Searching for New Materials
(Greensboro, NC) â€“ May 26, 2011 â€“ Air travel industry observers have noted a distinct trend among airline passengersâ€”they are placing increased importance on using the lightest possible luggage. â€œThe most common question we receive is centered on finding the lightest suitcase available,â€ said John Ebb, CEO of the travel goods website, suitcase.com. â€œWhether for meeting baggage weight restrictions, or just for overall ease of navigating through airports and other travel facilities, the demand is for lightweight options.â€ Ebbâ€™s observation is based on suitcase.comâ€™s recently released â€œ2011 Consumer Luggage Report,â€ which was compiled from a consumer survey conducted by the website.
Following the lead of weight-conscious industries like the aerospace and automotive sectors, travel goods manufacturers trying to stay in step with the trend toward lightweight luggage are turning to composite materials. Fiberglass fabric is a promising possibility, except for one drawback: most glass fabric tends to be somewhat plain in appearance. Thatâ€™s a problem for travel goods designers anxious to meet another pronounced consumer preferenceâ€”style.
â€œLuggage exteriors are undergoing a transformation based on consumer demand for unique, artistic designs, that draw attention from the moment out on the baggage claim conveyor belt, to trekking through airports,â€ said Ebb, citing the suitcase.com survey. â€œEveryone from kids to adults is attracted to the new wave toward a more fun and flashy experience.â€
How can traditionally bland, yet functional, fiberglass fabric fit the bill for a market looking for a â€˜fun and flashy experienceâ€™? Composites engineers at BGF Industries say in the hard-sided luggage category, where strength and impact resistance are important, BGFâ€™s newly developed BarracudaÂ® aluminized glass fabric could provide the answer. â€œBarracuda is made from fiberglass fabric, finished with an aluminum coating,â€ explains Tom Blackburn, Market Manager at BGF. â€œIt has the strength and lightweight characteristics of industrial high performance glass fabric, and it eliminates the need for a weight-adding metal support frame. On the aesthetic side, when we combine Barracuda with a specific resin, it has a 3-D sheen that looks like woven steel. We can even finish it in different metallic colors.â€
Blackburn says Barracuda is lightweight and flexible enough to mold to the shape of just about any hard-sided travel bag. â€œIn addition to the traditional suitcase, possible applications include makeup cases, golf bag hard cases, camera and electronics cases, sample cases, and specialty cases we donâ€™t even know about,â€ he says.
Blackburn concludes, â€œGlass composites are used throughout an aircraft to provide strength at minimum weight. It only makes sense that weâ€™re using the same materials concept to minimize weight in the baggage that goes in the overhead bin or the luggage hold.â€