Aerodyne Research Manufacturing has launched a new fabric for the canopies of skydiving parachutes. The self-healing technology fabric comes after nearly two years of research and development.
“The fabric is stronger and lighter than conventional fabrics used for canopies and has self-healing properties for small cuts and tears,” says Aerodyne military marketing VP Ned Luker.
The zero-porosity (ZPX) yarn is imported from Japan. It is a fine yarn, which means more yarn is used in each square centimetre in the weaving process than traditional thicker yarn.
The benefits for skydivers include a 17% reduced pack volume: As it is less slippery owing to the fine, tight weave and calendaring (application of pressure and heat) process, less silicone is used to achieve the zero air permeability proper- ties, compared with conventional nylon fabrics.
The ZPX is lighter, thinner, stronger, easy to pack and has a unique honeycomb weave.
“Our engineers and product designers realised that bees have always known that configuring a thin material into a hexagon honeycomb pattern makes it stronger,” says Luker, adding that the pattern is now used in other areas of industry, including communication satellites, military shelters, petroleum tanks, nuclear reactors and space shuttles.
The new ZPX fabric has been subjected to extensive research and test jumps to prove its capabilities and will be demonstrated at this year’s Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) event in September.
The AAD is an aerospace and defence event that holds a prominent position on the aviation and defence calendar. It showcases the air, land and sea capabilities of Africa, as well as the most-advanced technologies available.
It is a partnership between South Africa’s Aerospace, Maritime and Defence Industry Association, Armscor and the Commercial Aviation Association of Southern Africa, with support from the departments of Defence, Transport, and Science and Technology.
Aerodyne is led by Bill Legard, who has completed more than 8 000 skydives and the company is one of very few manufacturers in the world that can equip a skydiver with a full set of equipment comprising the latest design and technology.
It has created innovations such as the popular Pilot canopy as well as the mini force ring, which significantly reduces the force required to cut away a malfunctioning canopy.