Cuben Fiber: Hyperlight Fabric in Multiple Weaves


#1

Another fabric y’all might find interesting is Cuben Fiber. This stuff is insane. It’s gossamer-light, but so tough it’s used in racing sails. It’s made by sandwiching any of several extremely tough filaments (such as Dyneema) that are as little as a thousandth of an inch thick in various arrangements between thin outer layers of polyester film. The “sandwich” is then melded together. I’ve seen one video of it being lased and there are a couple of hyperlight backpacking gear companies that advertise laser-cut Cuben patches, so I’m guessing it’s OK to laser cut.

In backpacking use, it means we now have really tough tents that weigh less than 2 lbs.

Here is a description of the version made from Dyneema by a company that uses it for outdoor gear:

Dyneema® (non-woven) Cuben Fiber: This high-performance, non-woven, rip-stop, composite laminate was developed in the 1990s by a nuclear weapons physicist and an aerospace composite engineer. Originally designed for use in world-class sailing, it’s ideal for lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear due to its unmatched strength-to-weight ratio. Technically speaking, Cuben Fiber is a laminated fabric made using patented technologies with unidirectional prepregnated tapes of in-line plasma treated fibers that are spread into mono-filament level films. In more simple terms, Cuben Fiber is made by sandwiching Dyneema® polyethylene fiber filaments a thousandth of an inch thick, in various arrangements between thin outer layers of polyester film. The “sandwich” is then melded together in a high-pressure autoclave.

Cuben Fiber is lightweight, highly durable, and is 50-70% lighter than Kevlar, four times stronger than Kevlar, and allows flex without losing strength. It also weighs less than silnylon, it floats on water, is 100% waterproof and has high chemical and UV resistance.


#2

From a quick Google search, the stuff runs about 25 to 35 per 1/2 yard to full yard. Seems pricey, unless you know a decent site. The stuff sound insane thought. Will have to look up some uses.


#3

Great find. Just curious, what do you see doing with this?


#4

Yep–it’s expensive. I would be using it to create outdoor gear–stuff sacks, rain skirts, little hoods, and maybe even a backpack and tent. I’d GF all the small pieces.

As for getting it on the cheap, you can get decent-sized samples if you work for any kind of a company that might do manufacturing, because, at least in the past, the company that makes Cuben loves to give away decent-sized samples to folks whom they think will start using it in production.


#5

LOL! In the ultralight backpacking world you can have “cheap, light or small (pick one)”. :smiley: I have a tent I’ve carried for several years based solely on the corollary which is “light & small = insanely expensive”. But my base pack weight (pack, sleeping bag, tent) is <5lbs which helps keep me from having a heart attack when trying to keep up with a bunch of Boy Scouts 40 years younger than me.

It’s good training for travelling though - I can go around the world on business with just a carry-on.


#6

My company works with DSM Dyneema, the company that bought Cubic this past spring, and worked with Cubic for many years. They (DSM/Cubic) are one of our major suppliers & partners. Let’s say that I highly highly recommend additional air filtration / negative pressure if you’re going to cut the stuff with your Glowforge. It’s hard to cut safely and well with a laser, and the gases are flammable…

Your pricing would probably be more like $50-150 per yard if they’ll even sell you a small chunk anymore. Since the acquisition of Cubic, everything is getting a lot more bureaucratic.


#7

I know this is reviving a bit of a dead topic but I just wanted to say how amazing it is to be googling how to laser cut something and come across extremely helpful posts in the forum of the company I work at! Y’all rock!