What Can Ice Cream Teach Us About Coated Fabrics?

Learn how coated fabrics are made, how Elasto Proxy uses them, and what ice cream can teach us about specialty materials for sealing and insulation.

Doug Sharpe
President of Elasto Proxy

What’s the best way to enjoy an ice cream sundae? Do you add chocolate syrup, or caramel instead? Smuckers, a well-known maker of ice cream toppings, suggests adding their Magic Shell product in any flavor. These sugary syrups are applied as a liquid and solidify into a hard shell. Industrial sealing and insulation doesn’t have much in common with dessert, but picture your ice cream with a distinctive coating. If you do, you’ll understand a bit about coated fabrics.

Industrial Fabrics and Ice Cream Sundaes

Coated fabrics consist of woven or non-woven cloth with a coating or resin that’s either applied to the surface, or saturated into the bulk of the material to impart a desired property. Typically, these fabrics are made of synthetic or elastomeric materials. Just as you can choose vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry ice cream for your sundae, you can select nylon, polyolefin, or polyester materials for your industrial fabric (just to name a few).

Then there’s the topping or coating. How does it work? A polymer or elastomer, usually in a viscous or syrup-like form, is applied to the fabric and then cured to produce a harder or tougher material. Just as you might choose caramel or chocolate syrup for your ice cream topping, you can choose fabric coatings such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or urethane. Alone, vanilla ice cream is tasty but plain. With a caramel topping, the taste seems sweeter. It’s similar to how coatings enhance the properties of fabric.

Depending on the coating that you choose, a liquid plastic or liquid rubber may impart resistance to water, chemicals, or ultraviolet (UV) light. Coatings can also help to retard the spread of flames, and provide cut or puncture resistance. Coated fabrics even enhance the performance of other materials that are used for thermal insulation, acoustic insulation, vibration dampening, or abrasion resistance. There’s nothing wrong with plain vanilla ice cream, but an order that calls for a sundae requires more.

Ice Cream Cakes and Composite Materials

At Elasto Proxy, we use coated fabrics to build sandwich-like structures that provide sealing and insulation solutions. In Composite Materials: Lunch Is Served, we considered how specialty seals and custom insulation can be built in layers made of foams, barrier materials, and adhesives. Depending on your application, the use of a coated fabric may be required. Instead of a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich on wheat bread, your composite may be more like an ice cream cake.

Think of it this way. The layer cake (the foam) is topped with an ice cream (fabric) that’s been covered in a caramel shell (the coating). So what happens when it’s your job to prepare such as dessert, but you’re not a cook? Elasto Proxy can recommend the right materials based on your application requirements. Our technical team can also design your coated fabric into a sandwich-like structure, and our skilled production personnel can prepare your solution with precision.

Are you looking for composite materials that can provide superior sealing and insulation? Are you wondering how coated fabrics can strengthen your insulation or seal designs? For over 25 years, Elasto Proxy has worked closely with partners in a variety of industries. Watch the short video below to learn more about how we use coated fabrics, and then contact us when you’re ready to strengthen your supply chain. How can we help you?