A tarpaulin, colloquially tarp, is a large sheet of strong, flexible, water-resistant or waterproof material, often cloth such as canvas or polyester coated with urethane, or made of plastics such as polyethylene. They are used mostly as protective covers against adverse weather conditions. In the olden days, tarps were usually woven from nylon materials and used for various purposes including making ship sails and tents or shelters. However with modernization tarps have became more useful in a variety of ways including making protective material for enclosing goods being transported by rail and road, making advertising billboards, making kites, making drop sheet for painting and decorative material for children to paint on, making market stalls covers and making stadium seats and ground covers, just to mention a few. This increase in demand and usage has led to improvements in the tarp making becoming making it a commercialized factory process.
Manufacturers are now forced to make tarps that suit the user’s specific needs, although generally a water resistant tarp is the main objective. As such, scientists have come up with a highly synthetic fabric known as polyethylene which is much more durable and weather resistant as compared to nylon. This chemical process of making polyethylene has resulted in scientists being able to design tarps with their intended purpose in mind. A very popular product we manufacture are custom made covers and fabric components for engineering companies. The industrial textiles used in these applications are subject to very harsh environments and locations. Therefor a very robust material must be used for success.
The first step in tarp making includes weaving the fabric. Polyethylene comes in strands which are put inside a mechanical loom that weaves them. The strands of the fabric are woven together to form the strongest structure possible. This structure, now in form of a sheet is then cut into sections forming different tarps. They are cut depending on the final purpose meant for the tarps. This process is followed by carefully layering the tarps by putting them on top of each another. The edges of the tarp are then folded over and stitched in a fusing process meant to strengthen them so as to avoid threads running from the tarp which might result to tearing.
At this stage of the tarp making process the tarp will have already taken shape but would still need more processes to improve its quality. A multi step procedure that involves covering the tarp with protective films is therefore applied and chemicals later added to the protective films in a bid to ensure the layers of the tarp become more water resistant. At this stage, color and pattern are also applied on the tarp however in other situations the color will already have been added before the tarps are cut. Other qualities may also be added e.g. flame retardant.
In finishing the tarp making process, a series or holes are added to the tarp at regular distances. The holes are reinforced with grommets, usually made out of materials like brass, and their sole purpose is to protecting the holes from tearing. The holes are used for tying the tarps on the ground or binding the tarp around an object.
With increasing developments in the science and technology field, large tarps can be made up to the size of football fields and the quality of the resistant material improves by the day.