Sep. 28, 2021
Manufacturer Spotlight with Tapis Corporation
Since 1977, Tapis Corporation has been a pioneer in the development of high-performance fabrics for aircraft interiors. The company’s innovative materials maximize passenger comfort, durability, weight savings and sustainability. Tapis’ products are found in the world’s leading airlines and business jets. A woman owned business, Tapis’ corporate culture is defined by superior customer service and a commitment to innovation.
Q. Tapis has had an expert eye on shifting trends in aircraft interior design over the past few decades, serving the aircraft industry with performance fabrics since 1977. What are some of the emerging trends Tapis sees, as we look towards 2022?
A. One of the biggest emerging trends that we see moving forward is the use of sustainable products. Both commercial and private customers are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint, the importance of humanely made materials, and the overall benefits of sustainable products. With the use of sustainable products in aviation, there are an array of benefits that come with that, including lower fuel consumption, a smaller carbon footprint, and a better future. In our European market, we have seen that sustainable products are the way of the future and we are lucky to have a large array of products that are animal free, include plant based materials, and are humanely manufactured.
Q. Tapis is fully committed to sustainability by reducing the carbon footprint of air travel. How does Tapis see UltrasuedeⓇ as being part of the solution?
A. One of the most sustainable products Tapis offers is Ultrasuede. Ultrasuede is made of partially plant-based polyester using non-edible plants. Being inherently lightweight, Ultrasuede also reduces carbon emissions through lower fuel burn in aircraft featuring this product. As Ultrasuede continues to adapt to the ever changing aviation industry, one product we feel will be a good fit in the aviation market is Ultrasuede Nu. Nu is designed to look and feel like genuine aniline leather, but is vegan and more durable. Nu additionally features recycled polyester that minimizes carbon emissions.
Q. 2020 was quite a year for the aircraft industry with the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way we travel. Today, with the greater focus on surfaces and the transmission of pathogens, what are your customers looking for in a performance fabric?
A. Today, our customers are looking into materials that withstand high travel and harsh cleaners. COVID has completely changed the way customers view traveling. Flyers are worried about germs, cleanability, and hygiene now more than ever before.
In the commercial market, the demand for durable and easy to clean products is increasing at a rapid rate. Previously, many large commercial airlines would go towards a woven material that would offer extreme breathability that promotes temperature control. The only way to truly disinfect or clean woven materials is to remove the fabric and get them dry cleaned. Aircraft fabrics would be carefully removed every three to four months to get cleaned; this is a practice that is no longer practical. Now, these airlines are looking for non-woven materials that offer breathability, but can withstand the continuous cleaning and disinfecting that is needed within commercial aviation.
As for private aviation, interiors have always leaned towards very light colors, especially white. Offering materials that are easy to clean and can withstand normal wear and tear while maintaining the same appearance is what private customers are looking for. The use of light colors that stay light helps the cabin to feel clean and comfortable.
Q. We loved seeing the use of UltrasuedeⓇ fabric on Butterfly’s Single Aisle Lie Flat (SALF) seat at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg in 2019. What made UltrasuedeⓇ the choice performance fabric for this application?
A. We reached out to Lars Rinne, the CEO at Butterfly, to find out exactly what made Ultrasuede the fabric of choice for the SALF seat. He says, “Ultrasuede is the perfect cover material for a passenger seat or vertical surfaces in a suite. I am personally a homey person with an eye for interior architecture who likes the peace and warmth of a home with nice, warm, lounge style furniture. Having the touch of Ultrasuede on our flexible Butterfly suite reminds me of home and gives me a warm, relaxed feeling despite the hassle around [me]. Moreover, Ultrasuede is a very forgiving fabric. Spills of red wine or glue on our sales demonstrator can easily be removed without traces. Unfortunately, that works much better than on my Italian lounge furniture back home, after a night with friends.”
Q. Most of us are used to seeing the same dark upholstery in commercial aircraft interiors but with wide array of UltrasuedeⓇ colors, the rainbow is the limit. What is the most exciting use of UltrasuedeⓇ color that Tapis has specified for either a private or commercial aircraft?
A. Honestly, we do not have a lot of “exciting” colors sold in the aviation industry, sadly. However, the most exciting use of Ultrasuede within our market is the custom designs. Some of these designs include dye print, laser etching, dye sublimation, embossing, etc. These designs are really fun to create a beautiful look inside the aircraft’s interior.
Q. At UltrasuedeⓇ, we are privy to the many substances that a performance fabric must be prepared to withstand. What are some of the common stains unique to the airline industry that products offered through Tapis must be able to endure?
A. There are a bunch of stains that happen in air travel. The obvious stains include foods and sauces: ketchup, soy sauce, butter, etc.; beverages: cola, red wine, juices; ink: pens, markers; denim dye and dirt. These stains are not only for the seating, but also for the vertical surfaces. It is important that all materials we offer for any application are able to withstand stains! With commercial travel, there are going to be hundreds of thousands of people who sit on that material and/or touch the vertical surfaces. It is super important that you can remove stains from these products since they are bound to happen.
Q. Materials used in the construction of aircrafts go through numerous tests to make sure that they meet stringent safety standards. What tests must UltrasuedeⓇ pass in order to meet these standards as an aircraft upholstery fabric?
A. There are multiple different tests that we put Ultrasuede through to ensure that they pass. Each Ultrasuede product has base tests they must pass, such including FAR 25.853, Appendix F, Part I, Part II, Part IV, Part V; vertical burn 60 sec and 12 sec, Seat Cushion Test with a fire block, breaking force, pilling resistance, and colorfastness to light and crocking. Our specially designed Ultrasuede BHC for vertical surfaces goes through more extensive testing due to the OSU requirements that include heat release and smoke density.
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