Cuben Fiber, Dyneema, and the Ultralight Cottage Industry (Short Film & Commentary)
Jan 14, 2016 at 11:10 am #3375801
Gator, Now that DSM owns CubicTech, the supply chain, at least as it relates to CubicTech acquiring Dyneema fibers has improved. This should be another component of a price reduction, IF DSM is actually looking at retaining CubicTech going into the future. There is not a low demand issue, people are trying to get it, but are having trouble doing so. And if there is any licensing going on, from what I can ascertain, the people now peddling for DSM are getting the short end of the stick, doing all the heavy lifting, while consumers will ultimately suffer for this. It looks like a pump……….
As for “commoditizing”, we have already covered that as well, with real world examples. I have 100 feet of Chinese made 3/8″ UHMW winch line hanging here in my office, it is almost 1/2 the price of Dyneema/Spectra branded products. The entrance of the Chinese into this market correlates quite well with the price reductions we have seen in Dyneema/Spectra products over the years in products like winch line, and cordage, as has already been covered. The commoditization is already well under way, and occurring with none of the benefits from CubicTech that you keep saying this commoditization will bring. We are in fact seeing the opposite.
Maybe you can expound upon why that would be, outside of the current speculation, because much of this is already known and understood quite well.
People can keep clicking the “Not helpful” Icon all they want. Maybe they could invest some effort, and explain this all to us better. Maybe I’m missing all these benefits and great things I keep hearing about, between the “film” and other people espousing the wonders of Cuben. Keep in mind, I like Cuben fiber as a product. I own products made from it, and I use to build products from it, which can be reviewed right here on this site(Maybe its a bad review, IDK, I have not read it) The issue is that DSM is telling you how wonderful it all is, and BPL is showing you products made from it. But DSM also does not believe that YOU should have the ability to buy some of these products, despite how wonderful they tell you the material is. Like I have said, it is the consumer foundation, followed by the manufactures and innovators that will ultimately suffer for this over time. This can have an over all affect on the integrity of the backpacking market as a whole, but specifically WRT light weight.
Why am I a vocal minority in some of this? Quite simple, because I can, and it matters. In some of my other lives, this is the kind of thing I specialize in.Jan 14, 2016 at 1:13 pm #3375822
I certainly agree that something else is going on besides raw material costs, without a doubt.
I think you may be ignoring simple greed. Consider the following:
Cuben fibre fabric is a unique product sold mainly into the yachting industry, where the customers are very rich and the yachts are far more expensive than the sails. The UL walking market is more of a minor distraction than anything else.
DSM are not dedicated yachties or walkers: they are an investment company solely interested in paying off their purchase price as fast as possible and then making a great big profit.
Declarations of interest in and support for the customers are written by first-year marketing spin students. They are worth the paper they are written on – or less.
We have seen this sort of thing before, many times over, all over the commercial world. The only consoling feature is that very often the take-over fails because the new management don’t know what they are doing in a high tech area. The next move may be to try to substitute plastic shopping bag film for the Mylar ‘because it is cheaper’.
Cheers, or lack thereof.Jan 14, 2016 at 1:33 pm #3375824
Maybe you’re right about commoditization, but I’m not seeing much in the way of quality Chinese imitation fibers that have similar properties. I haven’t really looked closely, though, so I’m not saying you’re wrong. Everything I’m seeing (from my small consumer retail corner) is brand-named stuff using brand-named fibers. You know, Lash-it, Zing-it, Amsteel, etc. Can you send some links from amazon, etc. where we can buy cheap braided ropes, etc? Is that something you might offer in your product line-up?
You mention that there is a demand, but that’s still relatively small. The small market of ultralight shelters and sails, as others have mentioned, is still a niche market. What I’m talking about is a bigger evolution in material selection. If, and it’s a big IF, the demand for these fibers moves into more mainstream applications, such fibers will be more common like nylon or polyester. For example, if people start buying apparel made from these kind of fibers, new markets and new suppliers will begin to show up. That could be good for the price of things like cuben fiber. This is not something that will happen in the short term.
Anyway, it’s all speculation, and I think Roger is right that greed has a lot to do with this. I wouldn’t be surprised if DSM has a strategy to keep supply short enough to keep prices high.Jan 14, 2016 at 5:20 pm #3375867
Your scenario sounds like the carbon fiber company that I mentioned earlier. The one that offered to pay me to give them feed back about why I took my business elsewhere. The one that called and wanted to team up on a project just a little over a month ago. the one that recently shifted all their tier prices further back down to what they were like almost 10 years ago. etc. etc.Jan 14, 2016 at 5:35 pm #3375874
How … strange …:-)
CheersJan 14, 2016 at 5:51 pm #3375879
Gator, here is one quick Amazon example: http://www.amazon.com/Klim-3097-000-140-000-Tek-Vest-Black/dp/B00CBXV0UI/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1452816809&sr=8-1-fkmr0&
How is demand(For Cuben) going to move into the mainstream, if they can’t supply it to the niche market. As for products made with Dyneema/Spectra/Chinese UHMW fibers/fabrics, the list is endless. Its bullet proof jackets, backpacks(http://www.mchalepacks.com/ultralight/detail/fabric_colors.htm), riding pants, ropes, cut resistant gloves/sleeves, automobile air bags, etc. etc. and keeps expanding. Do you want contacts for Chinese manufactures?
The only way that the sale of more of these products translates into more Cuben is if there is a fiber shortage, and building more lowers the price, which we have already established that there is not a shortage. And as these products have expanded, and the cost of UHMW fibers has come down, with new manufactures coming into the market, we see just the opposite with Cuben. The “small” demand(For Cuben) you refer to, is actually most of the niche market, so technically it is not small. You and Roger are probably more accurate in the greed scenario.
Regardless of the motives, or driving forces, consumers lose out.
On a related note, there have been alternatives to Cuben that have been looked at, and last I heard they are being worked on. Probably a few years out, but I’m patient.Jan 14, 2016 at 6:45 pm #3375886
I didn’t see anything there with generic fibers that are demonstrably comparable to dyneema or spectra. Just because something is an UHMWPE doesn’t mean it’s the same as the highly oriented spectra/dyneema.
I don’t think these are billion dollar markets.Jan 14, 2016 at 7:10 pm #3375889
Just because something is an UHMWPE doesn’t mean it’s the same as the highly oriented spectra/dyneema.
Well, it won’t be CALLED Spectra or Dyneema, because those are registered trademarks. But could it have very similar properties? After all, if one company can make X, very often so can another.
CheersJan 14, 2016 at 7:23 pm #3375891
Sure, but I’m not seeing, for example, braided generic UHMWPE fibers with similar properties to the brand name. Are there any?Jan 16, 2016 at 5:39 pm #3376215
Look here: http://www.mcmaster.com/#cut-resistant-gloves/=10poawa I can buy a pair of full Dyneema gloves for $12, and I can buy Chinese made equivalents for half that(I’ll give you the high number). A 10″ cut resistant sleeve is only $4. You have been able to buy this stuff for over a decade, with the price dropping over the years, because of the demand and expanded use. Thousands of people use these kinds of products everyday, to the point they are basically disposable.
Hmmm……..If we could just get demand and production up, then we “might” see the price for Cuben come down………..
Have I mentioned that that has already been done…………….Well, not the part about the price of Cuben coming down.Jan 16, 2016 at 8:08 pm #3376234
it is a real piece of Asian sourced, “braided generic” UHMW rope with the exact same specs as branded Dyneema/Spectra
I am not going to disagree with what you are saying, but I will point out that you are skipping over two vital bits.
Do you trust the companies you mentioned? Sure, they claim that they meet certain specs – but do they? The average person has no way of knowing.
In the hobby CNC world there any many Chinese vendors who are exactly that: vendors. They are not the manufacturers and they have zero support staff. They just sell. They do not answer email about problems. And the stuff they sell usually dies.
The item may be exactly what the vendor claims – but is it any good? One Taiwanese company did get my respect, by quoting their price for a certain size of cutter:
Chinese carbide: $4.50
Taiwanese carbide: $6
German carbide: $10
Swedish carbide: $13
At least, IF you trust them, they let you select the product quality.
So it can be a little more complex than it first appears.
CheersJan 27, 2016 at 8:15 pm #3378566Michael GonzalesBPL Member
i learned a long time ago that I could raise more money by selling items for $1.00 than $10.00. As a DYI of ultralight gear, my preference is silnylon because it is affordable. Cuben fiber is way to expensive to justify its cost. DSM Dyneema should look at volume rather than a monopoly as a business plan. When you screw your customers they do not forget!Jan 30, 2016 at 1:19 pm #3379099Sam FarringtonBPL Member
@scfhomeLocale: Chocorua NH, USA
“Is Silnylon Dead?” So I nailed it already.
“Silnylon vs. Cuben Fiber” Still more false dichotomies. Tiresome.
Contrary to what is stated, both Nylon and Polyester fabrics are now available in the 1.03-1.04 oz/sq/yd range, including high water column coatings on both sides of the material. The coatings are part polyurethane and part silicone. High quality silnylon in the same weight range can be found in Terra Nova tarp shelters.
All of this has been posted in greater detail in the Gear and MYOG forum by R. Nisley with some samples from both vendors and myself.Jan 31, 2016 at 7:34 am #3379184Jennifer MitolBPL Member
@jenmitolLocale: In my dreams....
Can anyone comment on just how many cuben products are sold each year? I always wondered just how many shelters Joe at Zpacks sells, or the cuben versions of MLD, etc etc. I mean, are there hundreds? Thousands? Tens of thousands??
I realize we are a niche group – but just curious as to how large a market we really are……Jan 31, 2016 at 9:04 am #3379201Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
i learned a long time ago that I could raise more money by selling items for $1.00 than $10.00
Yes, but what is the profit margin at $1 and $10 multiplied by the sales volume?
You might want to read my take on DSM.Feb 16, 2016 at 7:16 pm #3382446Chris VoresBPL Member
@soggyLocale: South Central Pennsylvania
I totally agree. Dyneema acquired Cuben. Dyneema isn’t Cuben fiber correct? This article makes it sound like it is one in the sameFeb 17, 2016 at 4:51 am #3382500James MarcoBPL Member
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
Chris, Hey, ha… No, they are NOT the same. Dyneema is a trademark. “Cuben” is now Dyneema Composite Fabrics. DSM is the conglomerate that owns the trademark Dyneema.
Anyway, “Cuben” was used to reference the vast multitude of materials made by Cubic Tech/North Sails, whatever (they have been sold so many times I loose track of who owns it, except it is now owned by DSM…) Mylar, Spectra, Carbon, Kevlar, etc were tried as reinforcements/plastics. Basically, it is two sheets of plastic film with reinforcement fibers between them. Then it is pressed until laminated, ie. bonding the plastic films together with the fibers sandwiched inside. Multiple layers exist. Different weight plastics, different fibers, etc have all been tried.Mar 8, 2016 at 12:46 pm #3387606Ron Bell / MLDBPL Member
All Mountain Laurel Designs Cuben Fiber / DNW / DCF, Etc. shelters are now available in White and Green .75 style and the smaller shelters are available in the White .5 style. White (non-color) versions cost about 5% less than the Green. Current ship times only 1-3 weeks.Mar 25, 2016 at 5:19 pm #3391880ChrisSpectator
@chrsLocale: Upstate NY
I wish that video had no interviews and just had the footage of people hiking in beautiful places. While I understand cuben and its advantages I am also a regular person and cannot justify its cost. I did like the guy from yama when he said a light weight pack should be the result not the goal.Jan 1, 2018 at 7:32 pm #3510373Gary MSpectator
So I guess by the posts here that technology has come to a stand still and it will be a long time before we see carbon fiber impregnated reflective Mylar which would be the best Tarp tent ever. Well maybe I can glue a reflective emergency blanket onto my old Cuben fiber tarp, hey does anyone have access to a large roller that heats up to press 2 layers of plastic together?
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.
Our Community Posts are Moderated
Backpacking Light community posts are moderated and here to foster helpful and positive discussions about lightweight backpacking. Please be mindful of our values and boundaries and review our Community Guidelines prior to posting.