Composites for umbrellas and parasols

Belgian company Umbrosa manufactures a range of outdoor umbrella and parasol systems that are used on terraces and in yards globally, in environments including seasides and jungles. Its systems must endure long term exposure to high windspeeds, saltwater, rain, and UV, meaning they must be designed with durability in mind to remain in place for long periods of time. To enhance the mechanical performance of its designs, Umbrosa decided to use Exel Composites for their umbrellas and parasols.

Umbrellas and parasols that are used outside for long periods must withstand persistent wind loading, so it is important that they have enough strength and stiffness, balanced with the necessary flexibility to remain undamaged. Furthermore, there are environmental challenges that come along with being situated in locations like the seaside, including high levels of UV and saltwater spray, which contribute to corrosion. Therefore, it is important that any products designed for long term use in these environments are designed with corrosion resistance in mind. 

Enhancing product quality composites

That’s where composites play a key role. Umbrosa has chosen to use composite ribs in many of its parasol designs. These fiberglass ribs are made using pultrusion. Because of the high degree of fiber alignment and fiber density, the consistency of the composite ribs is ensured.  

Umbrosa prioritized product quality and wanted to engineer products that could be enjoyed undamaged for a long time. To achieve this, it looked to enhance quality in each of the components used to produce its their products to a high standard.  

“At Umbrosa we manufacture products following three different product values: identity, sustainability, and beauty. These values are really important because we want to make products that live forever,” explained Christophe Haemers, CEO and founder of Umbrosa. 

Weighing up these requirements, it was clear to Umbrosa that composites might hold the key to meeting all its design requirements, so it engaged Exel to help engineer a solution. 

Balancing flexibility and stiffness

“The main reason we turned to composites was because of the flexibility and the ability to allow structures to withstand wind loads, because this is the biggest challenge for our umbrellas,” explained Pieter Willemyns, product development manager at Umbrosa. “Here composites for umbrellas and parasols give the frame the chance to withstand the wind force. Furthermore, the stiffness of composites is really important for the ribs of our umbrellas because they hold the canopy open for long periods. Composites give us the balance we need between flexibility and stiffness.” 

“Exel provides Umbrosa various fiberglass composite rods, which are resistant to corrosion, rot, rust, UV, and which also have a low coefficient of thermal expansion, making them highly suitable for prolonged use outdoors.” explained Erwin Diepvens, Area Sales Manager at Exel Composites. 

Since the initial meeting, Umbrosa has enjoyed a close working relationship with Exel’s R&D team, meaning that whenever new designs are considered, Umbrosa can consult with the Exel team early enough to fully optimize the composite design.  

“Working with Exel meant we could rely on the technical expertise of our supplier. We need its technical expertise and advice on how to best incorporate composite materials to the point where it is effectively our co-designer on some products,” concluded Willemyns. 

Do you have a challenge that you think could be solved with composites or want to discuss your ideas?

Let us know what's on your mind. We are happy to listen & discuss ideas.

Contact us