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The rising demand for Kevlar

How manufacturers can optimize their supply chain for precision cutting?

Cutting Kevlar, a manufacturing challenge 

In 2020, the industrial fabrics market exceeded $4090 million, with no signs of slowing down. The market is expected to grow by a CAGR of 11.3% from now until 2027. As the market itself continues to surge, there is one material in particular that is driving the growing demand: Kevlar.

For years, Kevlar has been a popular material for many industrial applications like bulletproof vests, car brakes and boats because it’s difficult to break and remains strong under heat. Kevlar is also being used for new applications like charging cases and smart clothing.

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The demand for Kevlar is growing rapidly due to rising needs for safety and security as well as high energy prices. In order to keep up with the growing demand DuPont is investing $500 million to increase production of Kevlar.

Additionally, new materials are being developed that are 20 times as insulating and more lightweight than Kevlar.

In order to keep up with the rising demand, manufacturers who develop products made from Kevlar will need to streamline and optimize their production. Typically, since Kevlar is incredibly strong, it’s difficult to cut and often dulls the blade. Kevlar also has individual fibers that move which causes it to fray, even when cured into laminate.

Currently, Kevlar products are often cut by hand with a variety of tools, including industrial grade scissors. The problem with hand methods, especially as demand rises, is the lack of accuracy and the slow production time. For manufacturers to keep up with the demand for Kevlar, they need to speed up production without sacrificing quality of their product.

If industrial manufacturers want to truly optimize, accelerate and streamline their production, they need to automate the patternmaking, nesting and cutting processes. By transitioning to automated processes, manufacturers will be able to maximize accuracy and material utilization to ensure there is no money or material wasted.

 

Achieving precision through automation

Challenges external to an organization such as shipping delays, problems with product acquisition or quality can be frustrating roadblocks to overcome. However, by focusing inward and working to improve efficiencies in processing and the forecasting of materials, many of these negative impacts can be mitigated.

By utilizing cutting-edge technology, manufacturers can fully optimize their supply chain. With Gerber AccuMark’s pattern making and automatic nesting abilities, manufacturers are able to nest complex parts within the constraints of material weave and product grain requirements.

They’re then able to seamlessly send pattern and nesting data from CAD to cutting room, without error, through seamless integration with the automated cutting system.

Once in the cutting room, operators are able to cut multiple plys of Kevlar at perfect quality. The speed of innovative solutions like the Gerber Atria will empower manufacturers to deliver their products faster than ever before and increase first pass yield.

 

Why You Need to Become Automated

Staffing shortages from COVID have contributed to severe shipping delays for raw materials and products in general, severely impacting manufacturing and production efforts worldwide. This impacts both the businesses’ current sales and potential revenue since the time to fulfillment is lengthened, as well as problems bringing new products or updates to market, challenges keeping up with “on-demand” trends and at times, unsold inventory challenges. Not having the materials needed when the orders come in can be disastrous for a business, so it is important to mitigate these effects whenever possible.

Automation allows a business to focus not on what is out of their control, but instead on the optimization of what is within their control. By looking inward, it is possible to identify many small things that can improve or speed up processes, and reap some of the following benefits:

  1. Material Savings
  2. Uptime
  3. Speed to Revenue
  4. Taking Over the Work People Don’t Want to Do

While one small issue may not make a large dent in profit margins, the accumulation of many small issues being optimized can pay off in dividends—which makes the switch to automation a critical consideration for most any organization.

 

Digital transformation is a must

To truly meet the demand for Kevlar, manufacturers must digitally transform. Manufacturers who continue to rely on hand cutting will fall behind. 

Read our e-guide to discover how this can be achieved by making the move from manual to automated.

Dowload our e-guide