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28th March 2019, Toronto, Ontario

VISIONknit creates world’s first 3D-knit canoe

VISIONKnit’s 3D knit designers Juergen Garus (left) and Jenny Toth (right) with Andy Phillips, President of Composite Creations and the newly created Vision Canoe company (centre). © VISIONKnit

VISIONKnit’s 3D knit designers Juergen Garus (left) and Jenny Toth (right) with Andy Phillips, President of Composite Creations and the newly created Vision Canoe company (centre). © VISIONKnit

VISIONknit, a leading North American technical knitting company based in Toronto, Canada, has launched the world’s first 3D knitted canoe, in conjunction with Canadian collaborators Composite Creations and OHM Industrial Designers. The VISIONknit developed material, made on modern flat (v-bed) knitting machines, is set to revolutionise every aspect of the current canoe market, the company reports.

According to VISIONKnit, with its unique patent pending 3D knit material construction, canoeists are no longer limited in their choice of heavy, plastic canoes that can be difficult to repair or the ultra-light but expensive high-end Kevlar/fibreglass/carbon canoes that are prone to delamination and damage.

The VISIONknit 3D knit canoe provides a lightweight sustainable construction, superior durability and unique built-in design capability at a competitive price point, the company says. The almost unlimited patterning potential of modern flat knitting technology allows the integral knitting all kinds patterns, logos and other graphical illustration and gives VISIONKnit the ability to create completely bespoke products. The technology also has significant potential in many other composites industry applications.

Hybrid Kevlar-polyester material

In developing the ground-breaking product, VISIONknit’s leading design team tapped into their skills and knowledge gained through years of development in the furniture, footwear and fashion industries. “Our goal is to knit revolutionary new textiles, which would result in superior material performance, downstream shop floor savings and significant material waste savings. This new patent pending hybrid Kevlar-polyester material, called KR18, does just that,” commented Andrew Mullins, President of VISIONknit.

Composite Creations, one of Canada’s premier advanced composite manufacturers, worked with VISIONknit in its R&D efforts from the beginning, and the fabric results were so successful that Composite Creations created a spin-off company based solely on this new KR18 fabric – VISION Canoe.

Algonquin portage. © VISIONKnit

Algonquin portage. © VISIONKnit

Inspired by the significant production time savings, the reduction in waste by creating shaped parts and the elimination of labour and material costs in both the layup and graphic design process, Composite Creations was confident a VISION Canoe would be a unique, desirable and innovative addition to the current canoe market.

In addition to the above-noted savings, significant performance and durability results were key factors in the decision to bring the Vision Canoe to market. A leading Canadian materials testing laboratory showed that the Elongation at Break or Fracture Strain (the capability of the material to resist changes in shape without cracking) was 24 times better than Kevlar or fibreglass composites, according to the company. “Flexing without fracturing was critical in this specific application,” said Andrew Mullins.

Andy Phillips, President of Composite Creations and the newly created Vision Canoe company, believes that: “The icing on the cake when it comes to the VISION Canoe is VISIONknit’s ability to create designs and colour schemes that are built into the fabric, not painted or stuck on with decals which come off over time. Any fibreglass application can benefit from this new material and it’s knit, so it can easily conform to various shapes during lay-up which is critical when using shaped moulds.”

Knit something the world has never seen before

Andrew Mullins, President of VISIONknit, was recruited to not only run North America’s largest 3D technical knitting mill, but to diversify their customer base, and diversify it he has. Commenting on the canoe project, Andrew said: “In essence, I wanted to expose VISIONknit’s Toronto based state of the art 3D knitting facility and top 10 design team to the world. I knew that the immense capabilities of our revolutionary 3D knitting technology were not being maximised. The question was what was the best approach to showcasing this technology? The answer was to knit something the world had never seen before!”

“It all started with a brain storming session with OHM Industrial Designers Inc. out of Hamilton Ontario,” explained Andrew Mullins. “I had heard of the great work they had done on various products and was looking to brain storm with a creative team. The goal of the session was to identify something new, something creative and something memorable that could be knit using our technology.”

Hundreds of ideas were considered but hands down, the one that resonated was the concept of knitting a canoe. “What could be more North American and iconic than a canoe. Plus, if it works, I get to paddle the result,” Andrew added.

Vision Canoe booth at 2019 Toronto Cottage Life Show. © VISIONKnit

Vision Canoe booth at 2019 Toronto Cottage Life Show. © VISIONKnit

The issue now was to understand how to manufacture a canoe and if the concept of a knit canoe was viable. “I can’t tell you how many canoe manufacturers I contacted with the idea,” said Andrew. “And the answer was always the same. A raised eyebrow, a look of disbelief, the remark ‘You’re going to KNIT a canoe?’ followed by a gesture towards the door for me to leave.”

Undeterred Andrew was finally able to make contact with a composites guru who, co-incidentally, was manufacturing his own line of canoes, and the development began.

Composite Creations, based in Vanastra, Ontario, was instrumental in the process.

“Andy Phillips, President of Composite Creations, was fantastic to work with,” said Andrew Mullins. “Every time we ran into a road block, every time a trial failed, every time we suffered a setback, Andy was there as a partner to work through the issue.”

Integrally knitted graphics

“After conducting a full review of the industry’s canoe production process including process steps, waste factors, time lines and existing material issues and limitations, we set out trying to identify an optimal knit structure design, which would achieve the required impact performance targets and minimize production process steps, while providing never before seen graphics on a composite structure.”

VISIONknit was set on developing a material that would radically change the way canoes are perceived, manufactured and enjoyed on North American water ways.

Top 3D knit designers

“Fortunately, Visionknit’s Design Team consists of two of the top ten 3D knit designers in the World,” commented Andrew Mullins. “Our design team was fantastic. Their patience changing the knit structure or tension, or material or number of plies was fantastic. They understood it was a pure development effort and were able to change direction on a dime based on the test results we were seeing.”

Testing during the development process began with rudimentary tests, including dropping weights on early iteration infused panels to scientific testing at a leading Canadian materials testing laboratory.

VISIONknit also called on the experience and expertise of Perth Outfitters based in Perth, Ontario. “Ian Pearson and his wife Jennie, owners of Perth Outfitters, allowed us to test the canoes with their staff and clientele. The results were fantastic. Besides the manoeuvrability and ease with which the canoe slid through the water, they were amazed at the graphics,” said Andrew Mullins. “Their guides particularly loved the Watermelon canoe and kept asking when we could knit a Tartan pattern.”.

Andy sitting by Canada boat. © VISIONKnit

Andy sitting by Canada boat. © VISIONKnit

Finally, after years of development, VISIONknit was proud to recently announce the arrival of its new patent-pending KR18 (the KR stands for Kevlar Rebar) graphic enhanced composite fabric.

“The production time savings in the layup of the canoe, the reduction in waste driven by creating a shaped part, and the elimination of labour and material costs associated with adding graphics, all played a part in Composite Creations decision to start up Vision Canoe”, said Andy Phillips. “And wait until you see some of our early designs. You’ll never paddle unnoticed again!”

But according to Andy Phillips, that is not the best part. “The intriguing part of this new hybrid material is the opportunity in other composite applications. VISIONknit’s ability to create designs and colour schemes that are built into the fabric, not painted on or stuck on with decals which come off over time, is outstanding. Any fiberglass application can benefit from this new material,” he said.

“And it’s knit, so it can easily conform to various shapes during lay-up which is critical when using shaped moulds. In fact, I’m trying to have VISIONknit create something for the Submarine Team out of The University of Waterloo. Wouldn’t that be memorable?”

Further information

For more information on 3D technical knitting, please contact Andrew Mullins at 416-640-5758 or at [email protected] . For more information on Vision Canoe, please contact Andy Phillip at [email protected].

www.visioncanoe.com

www.visionknit.ca

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