Drop stitch material is at the heart of all FLATED inflatable products. The surfaces of the fabric is connected to each other through vertical polyester pile fibers. Using tens of thousands of tough polyester threads, drop stitch technology lets us build inflatables with flat surfaces that can be inflated to rock-hard rigidity. You get hard-shell performance along with the easy transportation and storage of all of our inflatables. The Drop Stitch material was developed in the 1950's by Goodyear to build a lightweight, rigid, portable airplane that they named "Inflatoplane".
The process starts by joining two pieces of polyester woven support fabric with thousands of fine polyester lengths. This base material is made in strips from five to ten feet in width. Up to 400 needle heads may be used in the setup. Each needle sews a continuous, evenly spaced thread, back and forth between the two pieces of woven fabric, locking them together into an incredibly strong unit. These drop-stitch sewing machines are marvels of complexity. When a change is made in the spacing distance between the two pieces of woven fabric, it can take over 20 days to remove and replace the required needles. The Polyester threads are woven so thin that when it is deflated, the two layers can collapse together almost completely flat, allowing our products to be rolled up and stored in a much smaller space. Drop stitch comes in many thicknesses but the most common for for FLATED products are 2- 4- or 6- inch drop stitch.