Billingham Materials May 21 2014
Inspired design isn’t just about how something looks – it’s about making objects that perform a function better than others.
To achieve this, a designer needs to understand and have a ‘feel’ for the materials they’re using.
Whilst Martin Billingham understood this principle from the start he took a long time to select the materials that would be used in the products that carry his name. It was important to know them inside-out. From what made them work so effectively and efficiently to why they would still look good many years later.
This philosophy underpins the choice of materials used
in the manufacture of every Billingham product and is a fundamental consideration when investigating any new materials. Such attention has been one of the reasons the Billingham brand has become synonymous with quality, craftsmanship and protection the world over.
Here’s a brief run down on what we use in our products:
The first line of defence in our bags is the material they are made from, that is why we use a composite of canvas and StormBlock, a Billingham-developed material. The canvas we use actually comprises two layers of canvas that are fused together to give an uncompromising waterproof finish. In tests our canvas composite is able to hold a column of water in excess of 19 metres high, but even that is not enough. A Maeser test is also conducted which flexes a sample in water more than 100,000 times after which it still showed no signs of letting water in.
Many of our bags find themselves in some of the world’s most inhospitable places and on the receiving end of some very rough treatment. For instance, we have had a report of one of our canvas bags being accidentally dragged behind a 4x4 over rough terrain for some distance. The bag and equipment survived. Another customer told us that his Billingham had been covered in melting roofing tar in a house fire - again the bag, camera and lenses ‘lived to tell the tale.’ Despite this
we decided we needed to offer an even more hard-wearing material for extreme conditions. After a long search we came upon FibreNyte - a man-made, high performance fabric which is bonded to a polyester lining with Billingham StormBlock whose useful characteristics include its excellent abrasion resistance and colour-fastness.
The leather we use across the range is known as top grain which as its name suggests, is the uppermost part of the hide. Top grain leather is strong, wears well and is surprisingly resistant to stains. We also like the fact that natural features such as growth marks can still be seen after the vegetable tanning process, which makes each hide unique.
If left untreated, animal skin begins to break down. To prevent this from happening, the hide needs to be preserved or ‘tanned.’ Images of people wearing leather are shown
in cave paintings and the way our leather is tanned would probably be quite familiar to those artists. Rather than using some pretty unpleasant acidic chemicals, we use natural compounds such as tree bark and other organic matter – hence the name: ‘vegetable tanning.’