An umbrella is one of those everyday items we use without giving much thought. At The London Umbrella Seller we've been designing and testing brollies for many years; it's fair to say that we're more than a little passionate about what we do! If you've ever wondered how an umbrella is made, we really hope this article will enhance your understanding.
The article will give you an overview of the manufacturing process. We’ll explain the different parts of an umbrella and how they all come together. If you would like to read more information about every part of an umbrella, do take a look at our article Your Complete Guide To All The Parts of an Umbrella.
The construction of an umbrella begins with the shaft. That is the pole at the center of the umbrella where all the parts meet. It’s the part that gives this accessory its length and core.
Traditionally, the material of choice for the shaft is wood. In particular, various ash trees are popular. However, technological advancements affect all industries and this area is no exception. That means modern manufacturers have a host of other materials at their disposal. Aluminum shafts are a common sight nowadays, primarily because of their affordability. Steel offers a sturdier alternative but is also heavier. Finally, fiberglass is light so you’ll see it in larger classic style umbrellas.
Regardless of the material, on a manual open classic umbrella, each shaft needs to have two catch springs. Those are the bits of metal you need to press whenever you want to open or close the umbrella. Manufacturers usually opt for metal here because it can handle the required tension.
First up, a worker will cut two slots in the shaft for the springs. One goes at the bottom and the other at the top. They will then insert the springs and secure them to the shaft, making sure they obtain a snug fit. This is important so the umbrella will operate smoothly.
Additionally, the worker will place a stop pin slightly above the upper spring to prevent the umbrella from opening too much and breaking. Lastly, they will also process the shaft so they can fit the handle later on.
The Runner, Ribs, and Stretchers
The runner is the plastic or metal part that slides along the shaft and allows the umbrella to be opened and closed. The worker starts by fitting the runner onto the shaft.
Next up, are the ribs of the umbrella. These form part of the frame of the umbrella; they stretch underneath the canopy and curve into an arc when the umbrella is open. Ribs can be made of metal, plastic or fiberglass. The worker fits the ribs into a ring towards the top of the shaft, they are firmly secured, for example, with wire. This ring is called the top notch and is secured to the shaft.
Finally, stretchers also form part of the frame. They connect the ribs of the umbrella to the runner and are usually made of metal, fiberglass or plastic. When the umbrella is opened the runner moves up the shaft causing the stretchers to extend outwards placing pressure on the ribs so they stand firm and form the require arc.
Once these jobs are done, the frame of the umbrella is complete.
Next in our article how are umbrellas made, is the canopy. The canopy of an umbrella is usually the first thought that pops into someone’s mind when they hear the word umbrella. That is the fabric part which actually protects you from the elements. Modern umbrellas are most frequently made from nylon or polyester, which is usually treated to better resist the weather.
In order to make the canopy, workers cut out a number of triangular panels, each triangle is known as a gore. Your typical umbrella will have eight panels, although variations do exist from 6 to 24. Gore can be a plain color or can be patterned to create a vibrant canopy.
The worker will sew each gore together and assemble the circular canopy. The worker will then drape the canopy over the ribs of the frame and attach the canopy to each rib with a cotton loop.
Then the worker will sew the canopy to the end of each rib and carry out a final check to make sure everything is in order. They will also attach the fastening band and button.
After this, the umbrella is almost complete.
The Finishing Touches
The workers will now place a decorative ring over the top notch. They may also add a ferrule to the top of the shaft. A ferrule is a metal cap which protects the umbrella and also serves as a decoration. Not all umbrellas have this cap and it’s up to the manufacturer whether to include one.
One of the last jobs is to attach the handle. There are quite a few options when it comes to the material. Plastic is very common nowadays; rubber can provide a comfortable grip, while wood gives a traditional look. The handle can be straight or hooked.
The only thing left is to package the umbrella and prepare it for shipping.
As you can see, the process of making an umbrella isn’t the most complicated but it does have its intricacies. We hope we’ve managed to answer your questions regarding how are umbrellas made and that you understand the product a little more. When it rains next, hopefully you'll look at your umbrella in a new light!
If you're looking to buy a new umbrella, do take a look at our reviews of compact travel umbrellas and golf umbrellas. Some great Top Picks are below.