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Since North Sails began in 1957, materials development, materials testing, and manufacturing quality have been cornerstones of our brand. All stages of manufacturing, from raw materials validation to each quality assurance gate throughout the sail manufacturing process is extensively documented Rigorous inspection procedures are used to evaluate ALL incoming raw materials deemed critical to product performance. And even though the resources North Sails allocates to improving our product understanding are unparalleled in the industry, we are constantly updating and expanding our testing and analysis programs.
All North sails are produced in North-owned facilities following strict North construction, material and labor standards. Here are a few details about how we achieve worldwide consistency for all of our products.
Every lot of woven or laminated sailcloth used in a North sail is inspected and tested for consistent performance characteristics and finish. Unlike most sailmakers, at North Sails we own our own tensile testing equipment and we preform both stretch and break tests on every lot of fabric we produce.
Because sails are a unique product with their own requirements for both performance and durability we have developed many of our own testing processes and equipment for measuring fatigue and fabric degradation, including both flutter and cyclical fatigue.
North is the only sailmaker to have purchased its own industrial scale UV and weathering chambers (we own two). This gives us the ability to preform both indoor (accelerated) and outdoor exposure testing, giving us a more complete picture of sail aging than either indoor or outdoor testing alone.
This is by far the most comprehensive testing program in sailmaking, and we test the varying types of sail material we use for the effects of sun exposure (UV) and moisture degradation (hydrolysis). Additionally, North have worked closely with an outside supplier to develop the best mildew resistance system in the industry.
North doesn’t just design and manufacture sails; we design and manufacture many of the materials that go into our sails. In our division North Cloth we produce our own sailcloth for both racing and cruising sails, including woven Dacron’s, nylons, and both cruise and race laminates. We have our own weaving and sailcloth laminating equipment, representing a scale of investment far beyond the capacity of anyone else in the sailmaking industry. At our 3D high performance sail facilities in Nevada we even produce some of our own raw materials that go into our high tech moulded sails. The pre-impregnated carbon fiber hybrid tapes that are the building block of our cutting edge 3Di products are manufactured in house. A number of the adhesives we have used in our 3D products over many years are manufactured specifically for our application by the big international chemical companies. Our competitors use off-the-shelf materials. At our 3D facilities we have designed and manufactured our reconfigurable 3 dimensional moulds and the associated fabrication robotics for the bespoke placement of yarns and filament tapes.
We manufacture sail hardware like headboards, carbon clewboards, corner rings, and batten boxes ourselves. We design many of our own parts to ensure that they function smoothly, improve safety and make sail handling easier. For example, working with Schaefer Marine Hardware, North created a new batten box design; full-length battens are inserted and adjusted at the luff instead of the leech, allowing batten pockets to be closed at the outboard end for improved safety and aerodynamics. Controlling the design and manufacture of sail hardware gives us greater control over the final product.
Every North sail is produced to North Sails Blue Book exclusive manufacturing standards for quality construction and materials. The Blue Book is the most detailed and comprehensive documentation of premium sail construction standards ever written. Every panel, every patch, every headboard, every ring, every strap, every stitch. Everything.
The Blue Book is our clients’ guarantee of superior quality, durability and performance in every North sail.
Originally developed in print, the Blue Book is now hosted online with the benefits of swift access and frequent updates:
- Receives up to 1,000 page views per day
- Includes 792 individual procedures
- Over 2,000 total pages of information, where every aspect of finishing sails is clearly explained, step by step, with pictures and diagrams
- Another 10,000+ files including cut files, class insignias, and technical diagrams for hardware
Every procedure in the Blue Book has been rigorously tested. It is the ultimate tool to share knowledge – we don’t waste any time reinventing the wheel. The Blue Book is constantly updated and refined, on almost a daily basis, and we have systems in place to alert and train everyone as these changes occur.
North Sails sites around the globe depend on the Blue Book to build a consistently excellent product anywhere in the world, both aesthetically and functionally. It is our common reference not only for production, but when working with clients, buyers or suppliers, or executing an internal forecast or production allocation.
In short, the Blue Book is really the backbone of the superior way North Sails finishes sails and remains the market leader.