Weighing in on the Acquisition
There’s been recent buzz on the Web regarding DSM Dyneema’s 2015 acquisition of Cubic Technologies, name changes to the material it produces, formerly known as Cuben Fiber, and the future of this technological advancement. As one of the leading outdoor gear manufacturers backing this technology, we thought it appropriate to weigh in, share some insight and better explain this technology.
DSM Dyneema acquired U.S. manufacturer, Cubic Technologies, May 2015. DSM is a large, global, Dutch company active in the health, nutrition and material sciences industries, and is also the inventor and manufacturer of the Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMwPE) fibers branded as Dyneema®.
Rebrand and Name Change of the Technology
In an effort to mobilize market awareness for their technologies, avoid consumer confusion, and improve long-term brand equity, DSM decided to change the name Cuben Fiber to “Dyneema Composite Fabrics.” The Dyneema® fiber brand name is already well recognized. To date, the Cuben Fiber name has had no direct correlation to the technologically advanced Dyneema® fibers that it is made from. So it only makes sense to better align the brand following the acquisition by better aligning its naming scheme.
Going forward, Hyperlite Mounatin Gear will take a bit of time converting to this name change due to the existing market awareness of Cuben Fiber. Additionally, we are still working with DSM on a naming scheme that covers the various versions, qualities, and thicknesses of Dyneema® Composite Fabrics in a way that is marketable and easily recognized by the end consumer. As an example, we have referred to the .78oz/m Cuben Fiber as CF8 and the 1.13oz/m Cuben Fiber as CF11. We like the possibility of now referring to the Dyneema® Composite Fabric versions we utilize in our shelters and stuff sacks as DCF8 and DCF11, but will continue to refine this methodology with DSM.
Is This Acquisition a Good Thing?
We are excited about the future benefits of this acquisition, which we anticipate including: improved order lead times, the development of new innovative materials, marketing support, and hopefully overall improved consumer awareness of both Dyneema® woven and non-woven composite fabrics as an innovative outdoor gear solution that contributes to increased performance, safety and enjoyment for the adventurer, regardless of skill or experience level. Per the initial launch of the Dyneema Project Ultralight video series, we are already seeing nice marketing support. (FYI to reddit readers: the video footage was taken in the White Mountains, and the slab shots were taken on Bald Face, New Hampshire).
Raw Material Price Increases
Raw material prices are increasing. But, in fairness to DSM, this is the first price increase we’ve experienced since inception; an indication that DSM is attempting to drop their prices relative to larger economic and inflationary metrics. Several outdoor gear competitors have increased prices for 2016. Consumers can also expect small 2016 retail price increases for Hyperlite Mountain Gear products beginning in the spring of 2016. However, our price increases will be nominal as we strive to keep end user prices as low as possible in comparison to traditional alternatives.
There is no doubt we would love to see pricing for Dyneema® based raw materials decrease in the long run. We are highly confident it would accelerate the ubiquity of consumer adoption for a technological advancement that is so beneficial, we think everyone should be embracing it. We hope DSM will continue to find the most appropriate balance between their economics of demand, supply and price as we know from experience that the only thing slowing the growth of Dyneema® based products in the massive outdoor industry is the end consumer price compared to traditional alternatives. We maintain that the benefit to the outdoor adventurer is well worth the added price if they want to perform at their highest and most optimal levels, but reaching the mass markets and traversing the consumer’s technological adoption arc with any swiftness will likely require reduced prices in the long-run. Regardless, we strongly believe in the technological benefits of Dyneema® woven and non-woven composite fabrics, are committed to this technology, and do not see a change in our materials offering or strategy anytime soon.
The Lowdown on Dyneema® Fibers & Fabrics
Dyneema® fibers are the fibers from which Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (aka Cuben Fiber) are made, and are the foundational technology for all Hyperlite Mountain Gear products. The following is an explanation of the differences between Dyneema® fibers, woven Dyneema® fabrics, Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, and Dyneema® Composite Fabric Hybrids (aka Cuben hybrids) which Hyperlite Mountain Gear uses.
Technically classified as ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), Dyneema® fibers are a lightweight high-strength oriented-strand gel spun through a spinneret. Considered the strongest fibers in the world, these extremely burly, low-density fibers are up to 15 times stronger than high-quality steel on a weight for weight basis, yet still float on water. They are also extremely durable and resistant to moisture, UV light and chemicals. Highly used in the rope industry, among others, due to the ability to produce stronger and lighter ropes, Dyneema® fibers are also used by the military and law enforcement (personal and vehicle armor), the maritime industry (mooring ropes), and commercial fishing (ropes and nets).
Woven Dyneema® Fabric
Woven Dyneema® fabric is among the most cutting-edge fabrics being used in the outdoor industry as it is made by spinning Dyneema® fibers into full Dyneema® “yarns” and then weaving those “yarns” into a 100% woven Dyneema® fabric; it offers maximum breaking strength, abrasion resistance and cut resistance. Though practically indestructible on its own, Hyperlite Mountain Gear uses a hybrid version of this material in which the Woven Dyneema® fabric is also laminated to Dyneema® Composite Fabrics. This improvement provides more fabric stability as the lamination eliminates weave shift (Dyneema® fibers and “yarns” on their own tend to be “slippery”) and provides the watertight characteristics Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s fabric choices are known for. Backpacks made from Woven Dyneema® fabric are a great choice for the most hardcore outdoor adventurers who are toughest on their gear.
Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (aka Cuben Fiber)
In simple terms, Dyneema® Composite Fabrics are a high-performance, non-woven, rip-stop, composite laminate made by sandwiching Dyneema® 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. Dyneema® Composite Fabrics are lightweight, highly durable, and are 50-70% lighter than Kevlar, four times stronger than Kevlar, and allow flex without losing strength. It also weighs less than silnylon, floats on water, is 100% waterproof before stitched and has high chemical and UV resistance. Originally designed as sails for the world-class sailing industry, Dyneema® Composite Fabrics are the most advanced material choice for modern tents, tarps and stuff sacks and is exactly what is used in all Hyperlite Mountain Gear shelters and stuff sacks.
Dyneema® Composite Fabric Hybrids (aka Cuben Fiber Hybrids)
*Used for Hyperlite Mountain Gear Backpacks, Duffels, Bags, Totes and Accessories*
Due to the waterproof characteristics of Dyneema® Composite Fabrics, Hyperlite Mountain Gear laminates it to a face fabric for all of its backpacks, duffel bags, messenger bags and totes. We use a variety of face fabrics including 50 denier polyester, 150 denier polyester and the 100% woven Dyneema® fabric referenced above. Laminating Dyneema® Composite Fabrics to face fabrics is what provides the waterproof characteristics for Hyperlite Mountain Gear products, while the variety of face fabrics provides the durability and abrasion resistance of our ultralight pack and bag lines. While Dyneema® Composite Fabrics are 100% waterproof on their own, stitching creates small holes in the otherwise waterproof laminates. Hyperlite Mountain Gear seals over 90% of seams, and while our packs, duffels, bags, totes and accessories are highly water resistant, we never claim they are 100% waterproof. Use these products with Dyneema® Composite Fabric (Cuben Fiber) stuff sacks to obtain waterproof redundancy and obtain a 100% watertight outdoor gear system.