Drop stitch is an inventive new material, which is often used in inflatable products. It has become highly popular in recent years, particularly with designers of inflatable SUPs and kayaks. However, it can be difficult to understand what is so special about this material.
What is Drop Stitch?
Drop stitch is a material that allows inflatable structures to be made with 100% flat surfaces. This makes them far more rigid and sturdy. The fabric is made by joining two external pieces of material using thousands of fine polyester threads that are tightly woven together (as seen in the image from NRS below). When you add air, the threads are pulled tight, which creates a sturdy surface.
What are the benefits?
When manufacturers use drop stitch, it allows them to inflate their product to a much higher pressure. This makes the structure feel much more rigid than a standard inflatable. Therefore, it is ideal for products like SUPs that people stand on. Furthermore, the material makes the structure far more efficient on water.
Are there issues with using Drop Stitch?
This material provides great advantages for many inflatable products. However, the technology makes the production process far more complex. Many designers found that the drop stitch threads made the valves difficult to fit. Additionally, they became tangled in the valve core and caused increased leaks in their products.
Leafield Marine’s Solutions
As a result of these difficulties, Leafield Marine designed a new range of products. These air valves feature mesh filters that are designed to stop the fine threads from entering the valve seal and causing leaks in the structure. The simple design allows the the valves to be fitted easily into drop stitch products.
We created an adapted version of our D7 Inflation/ Deflation valve, that features an internal mesh filter. This valve works in the same way as the standard D7. However, the addition of the mesh filter eases the fitting process.
We similarly created a pressure relief valve for this application. Our A9 PRV is significantly smaller than the others in that range and has both internal and external filters. It is further designed for higher pressure settings, up to 45 psi. This allows it to be suitable for a wide range of different product applications.
These air valves are a useful addition to inflatable paddleboards. However, they are also suitable for other drop stitch products such as, kayaks, boat floors, and inflatable tents. For more information, contact us today!