What Materials are Used to Make Parachutes?

Topics Covered

Introduction
Materials used to make Parachutes
Conclusion
References

Introduction

Parachutes were initially used by the aviation industry for rescue purposes. Today, parachuting has become a popular recreational activity. It is, however, an activity where there is no place for error.

The parachute’s descent depends on the material, and hence it is important that the material is light, flexible, and windproof. It has to be able to handle high altitude winds and other environmental elements. The material’s density, rigidity, and texture are the other key factors that will control the speed and provide a swing-free descent.

This article will look at the key materials used in parachute manufacture.

Image credits: Photos.com. 

Materials used to make Parachutes

Canvas - The first choice for the parachute’s canopy was canvas. It is a very heavy-duty plain-woven fabric.

Silk – Canvas was replaced by silk, as silk happened to be lighter, stronger, thinner as well as fire resistant and easy to fold and pack.

Nylon - Nylon replaced silk during the WW2 when supply of silk diminished. Nylon has since become a popular choice, as it has excellent wind resistance, good elasticity, mildew resistance, and is comparatively cheaper. The material is also lightweight and dries quickly. It is resistant to abrasion and chemicals. Due to its exceptional strength, it is also used to make straps of the parachute harness, reinforcing tape, and suspension lines.

Nylon fabric for parachutes is woven in a specialized manner with extra thick threads to create a pattern of small squares. When small tears occur in the canopy, these small squares prevent the tears from becoming bigger.

Kevlar – This is an extremely strong synthetic fabric that can be used in bullet-proof clothing. It is heat and flame resistant, therefore it does not lose its strength or deform at high temperatures. The tensile strength remains intact even when stored away for long periods.

Terylene - A type of polyester fabric that is now being used as a material for parachutes as it is very strong and heat resistant.

Other materials used include:

  • Forged steel-plated with cadmium for metal connectors to prevent rusting
  • Stainless steel cable for ripcords.

Conclusion

Parachute manufacturers are looking for ways to improve their products with better materials and designs. Fascinating research being performed involves creating a parachute with the ability to control the emergency descent of an entire aircraft. The fabric is being designed to have extremely low-porosity and high strength. With the rapid advancement in the materials world, we can hope to see some innovative materials in the future to make parachuting more safe and fun.

References

Comments

  1. Hope Knisely Hope Knisely Australia says:

    Would a plastic bag be a good material for a parachute, like in a school assignment?

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