The umbrella is one of those everyday items we use without giving much thought. Still, we doubt there are many people out there who haven’t wondered at least once or twice about how umbrellas are made. This question likely popped up when you were stuck in the rain without one.
Umbrellas are not a new invention and it’s always interesting to see how modern industry approaches a product that’s been around for so long.
Plus, we’re sure you’ll appreciate it more once you know everything that goes into making one. Therefore, this article will give you a quick look into this process. We’ll explain the different parts of an umbrella and how they all come together.
The manufacture of an umbrella begins with the shaft. That is the pole at the center of an umbrella where all the parts meet. It’s what gives this accessory its height.
Traditionally, the material of choice for the shaft is wood. In particular, various ash trees are popular. However, technological advancements affect all branches of industry 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 very light so you’ll see it in larger golf umbrellas.
Regardless of the material, 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 an umbrella. Manufacturers often opt for nickel silver because it can handle extreme 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 get 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 you to open the umbrella or close it. The worker starts by fitting the runner onto the shaft.
Next up, the ribs are those thin pieces of metal that stretch beneath the canopy and curve into a dome when you open the umbrella. The worker fits the ribs into a plastic ring with jagged edges and fastens them with wire. This ring is called a top notch and is secured to the shaft.
Finally, the stretchers are the thicker metal pieces which keep the umbrella open. The worker uses them to connect the runner and the ribs.
Once these jobs are done, the frame of the umbrella is complete.
The canopy is the first association that pops into everyone’s minds 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, which is usually treated to better resist the weather.
In order to make the canopy, workers cut out a number of triangular panels, also known as gores. Your typical umbrella will have eight panels, although variations do exist.
The worker will sew all the gores together and assemble the canopy. Next, they will stitch metal or plastic tips into the appropriate spots on the canopy. The number of tips is equal to the number of ribs. Afterward, the worker will drape the canopy over the shaft and tightly sew it to the top notch.
The next job is to insert each rib into a tip. Then the worker aligns the ribs and the canopy seams. They will now do a final check to make sure everything is in order and sew the ribs to the canopy. 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 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 particularly complicated but it does have its kinks. Furthermore, not all umbrellas are identical so there are some deviations in this procedure. Still, this is the gist of it.
We hope we’ve managed to answer all your questions and that you now appreciate this product a bit more. If nothing else, you now know how are umbrellas made and what’s keeping you safe from the rain.